At a special meeting held in Zurich on July 5, 2012, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) approved the use of goal-line technology (GLT). GLT technology was undergoing a rigorous testing process for the past nine months and of the eight companies that took part in the first phase of testing only two systems — Hawk-Eye and GoalRef — successfully completed the entire process and will be now allowed to apply for FIFA goal-line technology licenses. This was a historic decision as for the first time in its history IFAB agreed to introduce technology to assist the referee in determining whether a goal has been scored. As we understand, however, the referee will retain absolute and ultimate authority to determine whether a goal should be awarded or not. The IFAB also stressed that “the technology will only be utilized for the goal line and no other areas of the game.” Moreover, the use of technology will not be mandatory for any national soccer associations. The decisions concerning GLT went into effect immediately. However, given the approval of GLT technology, IFAB stated that certain wording of Laws of the Game, “relating to Law 1 (The Field of Play); Law 2 (The Ball); Law 5 (The Referee); and Law 10 (The Method of Scoring)”, will have to be made in the immediate future. We, of course, will cover these changes when they are made.
How Hawk-Eye Goal Line Technology Works. According to Hawk-Eye, its technology does not require any modifications to the field of play or structures/equipment on the field of play such as goals, corner flags or balls. Instead, Hawk-Eye explained that its system is “based on numerous high frame rate cameras placed around the stadium focused on each goal mouth, monitoring the ball’s trajectory when it is close to the line. The data from the cameras is fed into a central processing unit that analyses the position of the ball relative to that of the goal line. If the system recognizes that the ball has crossed the goal line, it relays that information in less than one second to” a watch worn by officials. Hawk-Eye promises that like its officiating system employed in tennis matches, the technology will prove accurate, fast, reliable and practical in soccer matches as well.
How GoalRef Goal Line Technology Works. Unlike Hawk-Eye, GoalRef’s technology requires the installation of special electromagnetic equipment in or around the goals and a small and compact electronic device must be embedded in the match balls. GoalRef’s technology “is a radio-based solution.” According to GoalRef, its technology produces “low magnetic fields around the goals, creat[ing] the radio equivalent of a light curtain. As soon as the ball has wholly crossed the goal line between the posts, a change in the magnetic field is detected. A goal alert is then instantaneously transmitted to the game officials using an encrypted radio signal.”
As we mentioned in our previous posts, we supported efforts to implement GLT in soccer. We believe that the technology will not cause any undue delays or change the game in any negative way. Indeed, given that the goal signal/alert is transmitted almost instantaneously, there should be no delays in the game. As proposed, there will be no video replays or other review process to determine whether the ball has wholly crossed the goal line. Also, there will be no challenge or review request system and no players, coaches or team officials will be able to use the technology. Instead, only the referee will receive an encrypted radio signal/alert on his wristwatch that the goal has been scored. Most importantly, the referee will retain ultimate authority to determine whether the goal has been scored. In short, the technology promises to be minimally disruptive, fast and accurate.