England v Germany: Goal-line technology decision imminent

Germany goalkeeper dives as Frank Lampard shot bounces behind the line. Goal! It was this effort, from England's Frank Lampard, that set the ball rolling for Thursday's vote on goal-line technology

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Football's world governing body Fifa and other organisations are preparing to vote on something many fans of the game have been crying out for: goal-line technology (GLT).

For years, supporters have watched, heads in hands, as balls bounced over the line - only for the referee and his assistants to somehow be the only people in the stadium not to see the clear goal.

Meanwhile, other sports like tennis, cricket and rugby have all embraced technology to assist officials in making the right decisions.

But in football, the powers-that-be have always been reluctant. Fifa's outspoken president Sepp Blatter said he didn't want to slow the game down or make it less exciting.

The footballer's view

I'm against it. I just think human error is a part of football, there are just so many things that go unseen by the referee, and I don't see why goal-line technology should take a preference over a penalty appeal or a foul that might lead to something that might lead to a goal.

It's just one area of football that we're trying to perfect when there are many areas that are left to human error. With technology, where do you stop? Surely an offside decision for a winning goal to get a team into the premier league is as important as whether the ball goes over the line or not.

I know I stand alone - I'm probably one in a hundred. I understand the argument for goal-line technology, of course I do, but I played in hundreds of games where the referee hasn't seen certain things. There are a lot of important decisions that referees miss.

In Europe, Uefa president Michel Platini has been equally hesitant, instead pressing ahead with the largely unpopular introduction of extra officials near the goal-line - an addition viewed by many as useless.

One such official was described by a television pundit as "just a bloke with a silly wand".

But a shot by England's Frank Lampard during a World Cup match versus Germany in 2010 meant Fifa had no choice but to reconsider.

It was clear - to everyone except the officials - that it had crossed the line.

The wheels were finally set in motion to make GLT part of the beautiful game - and on Thursday football chiefs will decide which technology will be given the green light.

Hawk-Eye vs Goalref

In 2011 Fifa released a document outlining the criteria which the technology must meet:

  • Accuracy must be 100% - with no concessions made for shots that, for example, hit the side netting and bulge into the goal.
  • The referee must be notified of the goal within a second of it crossing the line, as any longer would disrupt the flow of the match.
  • And the technology must be able to work both during the day and at night under floodlights, and in all weather conditions.

Of 12 initial candidates, just two companies made the cut. And, fittingly enough, it's England versus Germany all over again.

Goal-line technology explainer

From Germany: Goalref, a system which relies on a customised ball with a special sensor in the middle.

When the ball crosses the line it disrupts a magnetic field, and the referee is told almost instantly.

England's offering is Hawk-Eye, a technology that will be familiar to many sports fans thanks to its widespread adoption in tennis and cricket.

The lower league view

Goal-line technology is a must in football. If it can be proven that it's economically viable outside the major leagues in any country, it should be introduced wherever possible.

Any technology that proves whether the ball is over the line or not has to be right, because that's what football is all about: goals. As long as it does the job, that's the right thing for football.

The conference has got more and more professional over the years. It would be important that the Conference considers it.

It is a camera-based system; six for each goal, set up in various parts of the ground. When combined they can pinpoint exactly where the ball is. Like Goalref, the referee is then informed immediately via a wristwatch.

Drama vs cost

A simple choice between in-the-ball or in-the-stands tech then? Not quite.

The vote, to be hosted by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) - of which Fifa represents 50% of the vote - is about a lot more.

For instance, Hawk-Eye relies on more than 25% of the ball being visible to its cameras. A messy goalmouth scramble could stop it working.

But the Hawk-Eye method brings great "was it in?!" drama, and while Goalref can merely tell the referee and supporters that the ball has gone in, Hawk-Eye can provide documented evidence of the fact via an instant virtual-reality replay.

Goal-line incidents in England history England's drama: (L-R) dubiously awarded a goal in 1966; denied a clear goal in 2010; and lucky not to concede against Ukraine this summer

But Goalref has a trump card: cost. The system itself is easier and cheaper to install than Hawk-Eye, and doesn't require any extra surrounding structures to which to attach cameras.

It means it is far more likely that Goalref could be used in almost any significant football league.

There is a chance, Fifa told the BBC, that both systems could get the IFAB's backing.

It would mean leagues across the world could decide to adopt either system - with the most likely scenario being that the top divisions, such as the Premier League, would go for Hawk-Eye, with Goalref adopted in the lower leagues to keep costs down.

The expert's view

In a weird way, one argument is to say that it won't make any difference at all. There is not a piece of technology in the world that is infallible. In every measurement that you make in life, there is an uncertain associated with it.

It ought to eliminate blunders and mistakes - like the situation with Frank Lampard's goal in the World Cup. Any system that is employed ought to detect that as it was a gross mistake.

But the Ukraine goal against England in the recent championships is a slightly different story. That was very very close.

I watch recordings day-in, day-out, we analyse footage at over one thousand frames per second. What was interesting in the reaction to the Ukraine goal was that it was almost unanimous in the media that it was a goal. But yet I looked at the footage and thought 'how confident could I be?'. I definitely wouldn't have been 100% confident.

Let's imagine the technology had been in place, and had said 'no goal', we'd still have pundits in the studio saying that 'everyone could see it was over the line'.

Uefa protests

Whichever they choose, it will mean that leagues finally have got the green light for the technology to be rolled out. It will be too soon for the upcoming Premier League season, officials said, but by 2013-2014 we could see it in action around the UK's stadiums.

The first major league to take it up could be the US Major League Soccer - home to David Beckham - which kicks off its next season in March.

However, one league we're unlikely to see technology at in the near future is the Champions League, despite it being host to several controversial goal-line incidents.

Such is Uefa president Michel Platini's disdain for GLT, he has called for Fifa to postpone Thursday's decision and instead "start an open debate about technology in football".

"I am wholly against goal-line technology," the Frenchman said.

"But it's not just goal-line technology. I am against technology itself because it will invade every single area of football."

At the time of writing, Fifa has told the BBC that the vote is still set to go ahead despite Uefa's protests - but that could potentially change at the last minute.

Additionally, the members of the IFAB panel could vote for neither option - sending the process back to the drawing board.

Should that happen, it will no doubt be seen by most fans worldwide as one of world football's biggest own goals to date.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    How can such an ill informed comment such as 301 be considered an editors pick? Football does NOT have natural breaks in play to facilitate video review that cricket, tennis and rugby has. There are too many issues with video review of decisions during fluid play that 400 chars cannot address. Goal line decisions -yes, others - NO

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    I don't understand why we need a new system for just goal line decisions. Mark Bright makes a brilliant point about all the other decisions missed by referees. why cant we just take a leaf out of the rugby union book and have a video ref. surely we could then review all decisions instead of just goal line

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    My only worry is the costs to the the already precarious finances of some clubs.

    Maybe SKY or the FA could be persuaded to provide a subsidy to those clubs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    Forming an elite via the rule book is not on. No way can all football matches introduce this technology. No,no a thousand times NO.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    I really don't get the 'gives us something to debate' brigade. The money in football means that a wrong decision has more than an emotional cost. Clubs that are denied promotion or are relegated due to these won't shrug their shoulders and enjoy the controversy will they?
    Even winning a tournament has its big financial incentives:

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    Goaline technology is essential with the vast amounts of money a wrong decision can cost a club in this day and age. Football is so fast these days that with the best will in the world officials will continue to miss clear goals unless a change is made. Cricket , Rugby and Tennis to name but a few use video aids so why does Football continue to make itself look stupid at times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    The FA are like Luddites!
    Rugby has had the "extra referee" for years.
    After the Europa Cup watching footballers pushing and shoving with no ref reaction,goal line technology is only a part of the story.
    Making enforcement of infringement better in Football would improve the game.
    In Football players often ignore the ref.
    Do that in Rugby and you are OFF!
    Introduce that into football hear squeals!

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    If Mark Bright says we don't need goal line technology its obvious that we do. Argument over.

    If the John Moules commenting is the same man that I saw referreeing during the 80s its a shame we didn't have it then. He is the most appalling referee I've ever seen and sent off Peter Lorimer at Oxford - with the offence appearing to be "being punched in the face by John Aldridge".

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    Wasting time in a game? Are these guys for real?

    The only waste of time and money in football are FIFA and uefa themselves...

    Football promotes ignorance and arrogance from the very top down,

    Come on, the cost? This game drags more money than any other...beggars belief that these guys will stiffle the game from growing in a technologically advanced world!

    Subs board.....so high-tech

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    I couldn't disagree more. Not only is goal line technology essential, I would go further to say that video technology should also be used in open play. We've all seen 'the hand of God' - this could have been replayed as play had stopped and the goal would not have counted. 'Divers' would also be less inclined to roll around on the ground as if hit by a bus either in or out of the penalty area!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    Seems to me UEFA is still against GLT. Then again, it is run by people of the older generation. ie Sepp Blatter (mid 80s ?), who are completely out of touch with the way football needs to keep up to date with modern technologies just as other sports do. Football has to move with the times, I think if it was up to them we would still be kicking a leather football around with the laces still in !

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    If somebody is willing to pay for it, then let it happen.

    I'm not sure about what objection you could have to technology improving the fairness of a game worth billions of pounds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    The 3 comments with the highest negative ratings are all "Editors Pick". Don't sit on the fence Mr Editor, tell us your view ! (sarcasm intended).

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    Surely people from both sides of this arguement can agree on 1 point - we all want the correct result. If its a goal or not then so be it, if technology brings about the correct result then it has to happen and needs to happen in my opinion. Platini is living in the dark ages and is an embarrassment to football.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    The facts are simple - the 1966 goal, Lampard's goal, and the Ukrainian goal were all mistakes. Therefore its obvious we need GLT (full stop). But its not down to the people and players - its down to the people who make money and rule football. Hawk eye has been in place for at least a decade I guess and so there is no excuse, and football commands more money than tennis

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    looks like we need GLT. About 1 game in 50 seems to need it. But what really needs to be tackled is the cheating that goes on in 100% of every game - faking, diving, claiming for a throw-in/corner when player knows he touched it last......everyone up in arms with DC (100m) for cheating, what about footballers. Refs job have become more important due to the increase level of cheating

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    Mark Bright can't be serious! Yes, there are errors in other areas of the game, but the biggest of those is when a referee disallows a goal. It's ridiculous to say GLT shouldn't be implemented because referees always get it wrong. Does he expect one day fifa will say 'we're fixing everything, every tackle will now be reviewed & decided whether it's deemed fair on video replay every 20 secs', no.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    277. you say that as if its a bad thing. Winning that world cup hasnt done our international side any favours. in fact its become a burden.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    If goal line technology had been around fifty years ago we wouldn't have had to listen to England supporters contantly going on about how they won the World Cup in 1966 for half a century.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Actually what should happen is the same as in other sports...giving players the respectful right to challenge a decision that they think is wrong.this means that the player feels happier that there claim is looked at. like in tennis if it proves the umpire is right then they are happy the player gets on with it.give each manager 2 challenges per game like in NFL easy.if there wrong you lose them.


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