After being embarrassed several times between the last World Cup and this year’s UEFA Cup by completely blind referees, FIFA has reversed its stance that “stupid and blind refs are just part of the spice of the game”, and will start allowing goal line technology into international soccer matches.
The IFAB approved systems made by the British firm Hawk-Eye and the Danish-German venture GoalRef. Both have been extensively proven in tests with ball cannons and mannequins before being thoroughly shaken down in matches. The two systems alert a referee within one second when a ball has crossed the goal line, eradicating absurd blunders like Frank Lampard’s phantom goal for England in the 2010 World Cup finals against Germany, which was clearly over the line yet still disallowed.
We’ll see the tech on the pitch as early as December in the FIFA Club World Cup and in most major leagues beginning next year. And it’ll definitely be in place for the 2014 World Cup. FIFA, the sport’s governing body, at first opposed the tech but abruptly changed course after the England vs. Germany blunder.
“Today is a historic day for international football and for the IFAB,” FIFA President Sepp Blatter said in an interview published on the FIFA website. “It’s a very modern decision to apply this to football. It is so important because the objective of football is to score goals. With the new techniques and the new tactics, it’s difficult to score goals, so it helps to use technology to help identify when a goal is scored. It’s a help to the referee. There was a call for this technology and now I can say that we did it.”
Hawk-Eye uses 14 cameras placed high on each end of the stadium, while GoalRef makes use of a chip inside the ball and a magnetic field around the goalposts. Both technologies send a signal to the ref’s watch within a second, indicating a goal. Although GoalRef is relatively cheaper to implement, installation costs are estimated at $150,000 to $200,000 per stadium.
The NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball have long used technology to settle scoring disputes. But soccer has needed a definitive means of deciding since at least 1966, when England beat West Germany 4-2 in the World Cup final at Wembley. In one of soccer’s most controversial calls ever, a shot by England striker Geoff Hurst hit the underside of the crossbar, deflected and was dubiously called over the line for England’s second goal.
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