Its introduction comes four years too late for Frank Lampard (England’s leading goal scorer), but goal-line technology has the potential to change football for the better.
Last weekend’s World Cup group-stage match between France and Honduras saw the technology come into play for the first time at the sport’s most prestigious tournament when Karim Benzema’s strike was rightly adjudged to have crossed the line.
Although the GoalControl-4D system took human error out of the equation, there was still utter confusion in the wake of Benzema’s finish. And with this in mind, we have brought to you everything you need to know about goal-line technology.
What is goal-line technology, and how does it work?
Goal-line technology is a collection of systems designed to monitor the ball’s flight path and determine whether it has crossed the line for a goal, thus preventing teams from falling victim to the same injustice as England in the 2010 World Cup. There are several systems approved for use by FIFA, but the governing body has opted to employ the German-produced GoalControl-4D at Brazil 2014.
GoalControl-4D makes use of 14 high-speed cameras situated around the stadium, with seven pointed at each goal, to continuously and automatically capture the position of the ball in three dimensions when it nears either end of the pitch. The system filters out the position of the players and referee, and is capable of detecting the ball’s position in 3D to within a few millimeters. While the technology is automated, the decision to award a goal still ultimately falls to the match official, who receives an encrypted alert on his watch when the ball crosses the line. A virtual 3D image of the ball crossing the line can be broadcast to a screen, but this did little to prevent confusion when France notched up their second goal against Honduras.
The potential of goal-line technology
Goal-line tech was first tested by FIFA and approved by the IFAB in 2012. It was debuted at the Club World Cup in Japan that year, before featuring again at the 2013 Confederations Cup.
It made its debut in the English Premier League last season in the form of Hawk-Eye, technology developed by Dr Paul Hawkins and engineers at Siemens subsidiary Roke Manor Research Limited that has previously revolutionized tennis and cricket.
A goal-line technology camera at the World Cup
But the use of the system on the bigger stage of the World Cup has highlighted both possibilities and pitfalls. The France incident proved beyond doubt that the technology has the potential to all but eliminate ‘ghost goals’ like the one Lampard netted against Germany in South Africa, but FIFA is well aware of the challenges it faces where clarity and communication are concerned.
Teething problems aside, goal-line technology isn’t going anywhere. UEFA president Michel Platini has confirmed that he is campaigning for its inclusion at Euro 2016, and you can expect to see it return to the Premier League next season.