FIFA not on the ball with sports technology

28 Jun 2010

Following England’s defeat by Germany on Saturday there was as much talk about the need for goal-line technology than post-match analysis of player performance with UK Sports Minister Hugh Robertson joining the growing list of those in support of introducing this technology.

The debate surrounding goal-line technology began in earnest after Frank Lampard’s shot bounced over the line but failed to be recognised by referee Jorge Larrionda and his assistant Mauricio Espinosa. Had the goal counted England would have levelled with Germany 2-2.

This failure to spot the ball is one of several incidents throughout the FIFA World Cup 2010 calling into question the reliance on the human eye and split decision making without incorporating some kind of technology that would see the action from several angles at once in real-time.

“This was a disappointing end to a tournament in which England hardly ever performed,” Robertson is quoted as saying in The Guardian.

“Once the dust has settled, I hope the FA take a long hard look at the reasons why and FIFA reassess their opposition to using goal-line technology.”

UK news outlets have been gathering public opinion and This is Bristol captures the flavour, quoting university student Sarah Batten, who said: “I’m devastated. You would have thought that in the 21st century they would have technology to check the goal line.”

Of course the Irish will already be quite well acquainted with arguing the case for goal-line technology. There was a pre-World Cup meeting of the International Football Association Board on 11 March looking at the rules of the game following Thierry Henry’s famous handball that knocked us out of the running.

At the time FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that video replays would in no way affect the decision made but did, however, indicate that goal-line technology may be re-visited in the future.

What is goal-line technology?

This is proposed technology that lets the referee know when the ball has crossed the goal line. It could be in the form of existing Hawk-Eye technology that is already being used to visually track the path of the ball in tennis and cricket using high-speed cameras and triangulation or it could be a special football with a chip inside.

The Adidas/Cairos technologies Chip-Ball is a prototype that essentially has its own GPS system using a magnetic field to determine where the ball is in 3D space.