Goal-line technology scored a first at the World Cup Sunday night when it confirmed a goal during France’s group-stage game with Honduras at the Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Made by Germany-based GoalControl, the system kicked into action in the 48th minute when a shot by France’s Karim Benzema hit the inside post before heading straight across the face of the goal to Honduras keeper Noel Valladares.
Evidently surprised to see it coming his way, Valladares fumbled the ball in the mouth of the goal before knocking it away. Before this year’s World Cup, it would’ve been left to the visual judgment of the ref and his assistant to determine if the ball had crossed the line – and we all know how that can turn out – but on Sunday night, ref Sandro Ricci only had to look at his watch to see whether it had gone in. After confirming that it had, Ricci ruled in France’s favor, marking the first ever use of goal-line technology in World Cup competition.
However, things didn’t go entirely smoothly as the stadium’s big screen initially showing the words ‘no goal’, causing momentary confusion in the crowd and giving Honduras fans false hope – but the goal stood.
Pressure to introduce goal-line technology had been mounting ever since England’s Frank Lampard had a clear goal (well, clear to everyone except the ref and his assistant) denied against Germany during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
For years Fifa president Sepp Blatter resisted calls for the technology to be introduced, concerned that it would slow the game down and strip the sport of its “human aspect.” After the Lampard fiasco, however, Blatter did a one-eighty, leading to the tech’s introduction at this month’s World Cup.
GoalControl’s system uses 14 high-speed cameras – seven for each goal – which begin functioning the moment it detects the ball is close to the goal.
“The cameras are connected to a powerful image-processing computer system, which tracks the movement of all objects on the pitch and filters out the players, referees, and all disturbing objects,” Dirk Broichhausen, managing director of GoalControl, told Digital Trends recently. “The remaining object is the ball – and the system knows its three-dimensional X, Y and Z position with a precision of a few millimeters.”
As it did during Sunday night’s France-Honduras game, when the ball crosses the goal line, a special watch worn by the ref starts vibrating. And just so that he’s absolutely certain about what’s just happened, the message “GOAL” flashes up on the watch face, too.