Upgrading the old system


Claudine Murphy looks at the increased use of technology in football and wonders at what point it becomes too much

FIFA have recently announced that goal-line technology will be introduced for the 2014 World Cup and that a fourth system of goal-line technology has been approved and granted a licence. The German-produced ‘GoalControl 4D’ uses 14 high-speed cameras placed strategically around the pitch and focused at both goals in order to determine whether or not the ball has entered the goal.

It is claimed that, by using this process, “the ball is continually and automatically captured in three dimensions as soon as it approaches the goal-line… When the ball has completely crossed the line, the central analysis unit sends an encrypted signal to the referee’s watch in less than a second. GoalControl 4D can be used with both standard goalposts and balls.”

The first two methods of goal-line technology approved by FIFA were GoalRef and Hawk-Eye. While GoalRef uses magnetic fields, Hawk-Eye, which is used in tennis and cricket, is similar to GoalControl as it is also optical-based. It is not yet known which system will be used for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

In the modern era, every aspect of the game of football comes under intense scrutiny, and the issue of using goal-line technology is no exception. It is an area which many in the football community are calling to be directly integrated while others advocate the continued reliance on the use of video replays or an increased number of match officials, cautious that technological developments may reduce the human element of the game.

Although FIFA has remained largely against the use of goal-line technology, it has now reconsidered this opinion, owing largely to the 2010 World Cup match between England and Germany, where Frank Lampard’s goal was not awarded by the match officials.

This technology was first tested in this season’s Club World Cup and successfully recorded all the 21 goals scored without error, which has led to the decision by FIFA to prepare the technology by this summer’s Confederations Cup in Brazil, and in turn, the 2014 World Cup finals.

The Premier League in England recently announced their plans to implement this technology by next season. The FA and Premier League are now in talks with two of the firms over putting the technology into English top-flight clubs and Wembley Stadium. Still, some leagues, such as the German Bundesliga, are determined to wait a little longer and continue the use of old methods.

Meanwhile, the European governing body UEFA has chosen not to yet to adopt goal-line technology, choosing to employ an extra linesman behind each goal. This has not proved always successful, however, particularly against the seemingly flawless system of goal-line technology. Although the technology has yet to be embraced worldwide, it is showing positive signs due to its success rate and is likely to be the way forward in ensuring goal scores are recorded immediately and accurately.

There has been much criticism of the extra officials behind the goals, as many feel that they do not do anything and some have been accused of cowardice when it comes to making the only decisions that they were put there to make in the first place.

In late March, the Football Federation of Australia announced that it is to become the second nation to use goal-line technology in a major FIFA-sanctioned tournament, when they host the 2015 Asian Cup. The Asian Football Confederation will decide which electronic method is to be used for the Asian Cup, despite FIFA committing to their preferred technology during the Confederations Cup in June and next year’s World Cup, both of which are set to take place in Brazil.

In a statement, AFC said that they have been “fully studying all options and will choose the best way for betterment of football matches in consultation with referees committee.” This is because FIFA announced that competition organisers are free to decide whether or not to use the technology, and they get to decide which company they would like to bring in should they decide to adopt the new methods.

It seems likely that Premier League clubs are likely to use some form of goal-line technology for domestic games from next season onwards, but they will be forbidden from doing so during European matches. This is due to the fact that UEFA President, Michel Platini, remains vehemently opposed to the use of goal-line technology.

In analysing the positive aspect of goal-line technology, it needs to be considered that the general secretary of the Football Association, Alex Horne, has advocated its use stating “My view that I will recommend to the FA Cup committee is that technology favours nobody; it is there for both teams.”

The current, lightning-fast developments in the area of technology in football appear to show no signs of slowing down, with the majority of those in the football community steadily embracing the introduction of these innovations. It appears that Platini is the most powerful opponent to the implementation of goal-line technology.

At present, football remains miles behind such sports as rugby, cricket and tennis in its refusal to adapt to modern technology. But, although their current stance is in support of traditional methods, it appears to be only a matter of time before cutting edge technology is used worldwide.