While many major sports around the world have had few problems incorporating technology to help officials make key decisions during a game, soccer has long withstood any such moves, due largely to opposition from Sepp Blatter, president of the sport’s governing body, FIFA.
However, with so much money in the game and so many reputations on the line, not forgetting the numerous replay-providing TV cameras seemingly placed everywhere bar down a player’s shorts, FIFA has finally relented, agreeing to use goal-line technology at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The decision follows successful trials at the Club World Cup in Japan in December. Two leading providers of on-the-field technology – Sony-owned Hawk-Eye in the UK and Germany-based GoalRef – will now compete to win the contract for the 2014 World Cup, with a decision expected in April.
Hawk-Eye uses a number of carefully placed cameras to determine the exact location of the ball whereas GoalRef’s technology involves sensors placed inside the ball and goal posts.
Blatter had always insisted that soccer should maintain its “human face” and said that debate around controversial decisions made the game more exciting. However, Blatter changed his mind after witnessing an incident at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when England’s Frank Lampard scored a clear goal in a game against Germany only for the ref to rule that the ball didn’t go over the line.
The ball struck the underside of the bar at high speed, hit the ground over the line and, because of the spin, bounced back out of the goal. As millions watched replays at home showing the ball clearly over the line (below), the referee carried on oblivious. England lost the game.
The decision to go with goal-line technology will please fans all over the world, many of whom had been growing increasingly frustrated at seeing clear goals ignored by officials. Sure, there will still be wrongly given offside, handball and penalty decisions, but seeing a clear goal ignored by a referee is enough to make any footie fan froth at the mouth in wide-eyed anger and despair. Hopefully, from this year, those moments will be a thing of the past.
[Main image: Hawk-Eye]