FIFA has promised goal line technology for the World Cup Brazil 2014. It has been two years since FIFA began testing goal-line technology (GLT). Sports Techie was launched in time for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I founded Sports Techie three years ago and remember blogging and tweeting about FIFA’s “Stone Age” mentality towards implementing tech into the beautiful game of football. And then Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal in the England vs. Germany game happened… Since then, FIFA’s aim is to use GLT in order to support the match officials and to install a system in all stadia, pending the successful installation, and pre-match referee tests.
Goal-line technology put to the test by FIFATV: http://youtu.be/hn94ztuuGtw.
Bravo to FIFA for finally committing to using GLT at World Cup Brazil 2014 from June 12 to July 13. The International Football Federation board’s decision on October 20, 2010 to formalize and reconsider the introduction of goal line technology was an absolute no-brainer decision but did get the process started. Three years later, GLT is finally here.
GLT Testing, Licensing and Approval
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football. Technology partners worked closely with the IFAB and FIFA to make sure that any GLT system would work in a variety of environments and situations. FIFA’s Quality Program for GLT continued with a pass/fail test requirement that filtered out technology providers until only two remained, Hawk-Eye Innovations and RefGoal.
After two years of testing by EMPA, an independent Swiss based testing company, the Football Association was ready to proceed with signing a licensing agreement with these two sports tech providers. In October of 2012, licenses were signed and authorization was given to install these two GLT systems worldwide.
How the GLT systems were tested:
Club World Cup Japan 2012
The GLT systems were last tested at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2012. The systems were installed between October and December last year. The Japanese Football Association, the local organizing committee and stadium managers cooperated to ensure GLT installation success. RefGoal installed their magnetic field at the Yokohama International Stadium. Hawk-Eye placed their camera based system in Tokyo Stadium. Each stadium hosted four games. Both Hawk-Eye and RefGoal GLT operated as expected.
Hawk-Eye Football Project Manager, Laurence Upshon, explained their setup process to FIFA. The site survey began with a walk around the stadium. His team locates the best camera positions and scouts for ideal locations for the booth and cable runs. It takes at least a week to implement Hawk-Eye because of the systems setup and calibration process. A team of six installed the cables and equipment, then a team of three calibrated the system, making it match ready. Once the hardware is installed, the cameras are in place, the software is running, and internal testing is complete, their system is ready to go without any additional input from operators.
More about how Hawk-Eye works:
GoalRef built a special goal that plugs into the existing mounting sleeves of the stadium. Cables attached to the goal go around the back and connect to an external computer processing station placed behind the net. Signals are picked up by the computer from an antenna installed on the goal. The data is computed and wirelessly transmitted to the special watch on the head referee’s arm. The GoalRef system is compact and does not require the use the stadium structure. GoalRef only needs a working power plug on each side of the goal to function.
More about how GoalRef works:
Final GLT Tests
Final installation tests were given to both systems inside of a stadium. Team Test Leader at EMPA, Rolf Stampfli, explained the test procedures. EMPA wanted to make sure that if a goal has been scored, the match official would be indicated within one second by visual and vibrating confirmations to his custom watch. Each system was tested all day and into the night to simulate all starting times and weather conditions.
After two years of testing both good and bad systems, EMPA felt confident the engineering was ready for real match conditions. FIFA approved the two GLT systems for their Club World Cup tournament in Japan.
The pre-match check by the officials of both goals passed the required GLT functionality testing. All of the tournaments pre-match checks by the referees passed. GLT was then used successfully in all eight matches.
The referees at the FIFA Club World Cup 2012 had zero problems with the systems. The detailed training refs received before the game made a difference. No critical goals were reviewed during the 8 games. Players and refs provided positive feedback about the GLT. Cassio, the goalkeeper for Sao Paulo, said, “I think the new technology is going to improve football in the future.”
FIFA Secretary General, Jerome Valcke said the system clearly worked around the goal area. His example of the video that compared the speed of a human eye, the slow motion of the TV replay, and the GLT system, was spot-on. In the first two you do not see a goal but with the glt system you do. The speed of the soccer ball crossing the goal line makes it at times impossible to tell with the human eye or by using TV video replay whether a goal was scored. These two GLT systems have has no such limitations.
More about the use of GLT at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup™:
GLT and Replay Analysis
Replay technology is by no means new in sports anymore and it certainly plays a very important part. Tennis uses the challenge as a strategic part of the game. The NFL used replacement officials for part of last season but luckily their booth officials were not replacements. If the booth officials were also replacements you can be sure more chaos like the finish to the MNF game here in Seattle would have been the norm.
I feel that MLB is awaiting a replay related disaster the way they choose not to honor the complete use of technology to assist their unionized umpires with getting the baseball calls right. The NHL is an excellent model because of how quickly they use instant replay to analyze the legitimacy of all hockey goals scored. Sure fans complain that time is wasted during a NBA or NCAA basketball game reviewing a three-point shot attempt until it’s YOUR team that benefits from the tech aided, correct call for the win.
I would like to be reporting to Sports Techie that FIFA added more technological tools to help combat the real issues of diving or match fixing. Instead, this blog focuses on the long and complicated process of selecting a GLT provider. The two years of testing by EMPA whittled down the competing companies to RefGoal and Hawk-Eye. At the FIFA Club World Cup 2012 in Japan, the systems both passed with flying colors. GLT is finally FIFA approved and ready to go for the next World Cup.
As good as this GLT news by FIFA is Sports Techie, the UEFA President, Michel Platini, still represents the old guard and publically disapproves of the tech. This means the Premier League and Europa League will not be installing GLT at this time even though FIFA has given its blessings. The MLS has decided to wait until 2015 for any GLT implementation here. Nevertheless, our Sports Techie hats are off to FIFA for making GLT a reality at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 and 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
Sports Techie, Am I excited about this glorious GLT news by FIFA? “Ya, sure, you betcha,” as they say around here in Ballard. In other words, I am not jumping through the roof but it is nice to see this finally happen. When a soccer game is 1-0 and the lone goal scored is a critical one that GLT can clearly assist a match official with determining if it was valid, you’d better use it.
Cheers to FIFA for finally being reactive enough to assist officials with determining whether a goal was scored or not by GLT. I am surprised it has taken FIFA this long to get it done; a final GLT decision is due to be confirmed in early April. Even more surprising is how GLT continues to be met with further resistance. Now is the time for FIFA to be proactive and use more video replay to help stop the massive problems of match fixing and diving. Implementing GLT by FIFA is hopefully yesterday’s news already.
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