Goal-Line Technology Gets Green Light From IFAB

Goal-line technology (GLT) has at last been given the go-ahead by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). The decision was made Thursday in Zurich during a special meeting chaired by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who now fully endorses GLT after being staunchly against it in recent years.

Both technologies under consideration, Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, were unanimously approved “in principle” after test house EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology) presented its report on the systems to the board.

Camera-based analysis system Hawk-Eye, developed in the UK and now owned by Sony, and German-Danish joint venture GoalRef, which relies on a microchip in the ball with sensors in the goal and features technology developed by Fraunhofer IIS, were part of the IFAB’s Test Phase 2 project. The project was implemented after several national football associations, team managers, players, commentators, and fans called for introduction of GLT in the wake of a series of high-profile refereeing missteps that led to goals’ being erroneously given or disallowed.

Testing began in August 2011 and lasted nine months, culminating in trials during the Danish Superliga game between Silkeborg IF and SønderjyskE (GoalRef) and the England-Belgium match at Wembley (Hawk-Eye) at the end of May and beginning of June, respectively.

Approval for full implementation of GLT in each country depends on final installation tests at each home ground of teams in the leagues wanting to install it. Before it can be used in competitive games, GLT would have to be tested again in situ by EMPA.

The IFAB emphasizes that GLT will be used only for decisions around the goal line and not elsewhere during the match. The use of GLT will bring about changes in wording of specific Laws of the Game regarding The Field of Play (Law 1), The Ball (Law 2), The Referee (Law 5), and The Method of Scoring (Law 10).

The introduction of GLT in soccer will bring the game into line with other sports, notably rugby, cricket, and tennis, which have been using analysis technology, including Hawk-Eye, for several years. The IFAB comprises representatives from the football associations of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, in addition to four voting members of FIFA, including Blatter.

The English FA has long supported GLT and calls Thursday’s meeting “historic.” Says FA General Secretary Alex Horne, “It is a hugely important day. It is a cause we have had on our agenda for a number of years.”

The Premier League issued this statement: “The Premier League has been a long-term advocate of goal-line technology. We welcome [the] decision by IFAB and will engage in discussions with both Hawkeye and GoalRef in the near future with a view to introducing goal-line technology as soon as is practically possible.”

Steve Carter, managing director of Hawk-Eye Innovations, says, “We are delighted by FIFA’s decision to endorse the use of goal-line technology and to have qualified for a license. We are confident, following years of development and testing, that Hawk-Eye can assist decision making for referees in critical goal-line situations which can affect the outcomes of club and international games.”

Right now, there is no time schedule for introduction of either technology in individual leagues. During a press conference Thursday, Horne said no one wanted the technology to “creep out.”

Blatter has said his intention is that GLT will be used at the World Cup in Brazil during 2014. Before then, FIFA plans to use the technology at the Club World Cup in Japan this year and the 2013 Confederations Cup, which also is in Brazil. According to a spokesman, these two competitions would use both Hawk-Eye and GoalRef at different grounds, which would allow a final decision to be made on what to use for the World Cup.

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