We’ve taken a bit of an interest in the relationship between football and pioneering tech recently, with the launch of Quick Feet — the proven ball skills training programme that helps players develop tiki-taka type skills.
After the latest goal-line furore in a high profile match, it seems FIFA may finally be bowing to pressure to implement its own tech. Juan Mata’s ‘ghost goal’ for Chelsea against Spurs wasn’t even close to crossing the line, a melee of bodies clearly affecting the judgement of the referee and his assistant.
FIFA is currently testing two systems. Hawk-Eye — it uses six cameras to triangulate and track the ball in flight. It’s television-friendly, offering fans at home and in the stadium a visual replay of the decision — just like the tennis. Though because of the camera-based tech installation costs will be high and you can’t see if it’s buried under the keeper. The other option is GoalRef (a joint Danish and German system) that uses a magnetic signal, so there’s no need for the ball to be in sight for a decision to be made. A signal is instantly relayed to the referee when the ball has crossed the line — and actually faster than the assistant referee could flag for a goal.
This, however, would not be great for TV — there’s no visual engagement with the crowd. It is far cheaper to install than Hawk-Eye, though, a mass production version is already standing by and all you have to install are the sensor strips which are placed inside the skin of the ball and also posts and under the crossbar. Bizarrely, though perhaps unsurprisingly, FIFA seems intent on choosing one system to govern all such decisions across the game.
I’d ask – why not use both? GoalRef is the clear choice for games from the grassroots up and Hawk-Eye can offer TV and big stadiums a visual pay-off, as well as the correct decision. This debate could be set to take another turn in the coming months.