The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has approved the use of goal-line technology at a meeting held in Zurich this week under the chairmanship of FIFA President Joe Blatter.
Following the conclusion of a nine-month test process that began in August 2011, led by researchers at the EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology), the IFAB unanimously decided to approve the use of both the Hawk-Eye and GoalRef systems. The IFAB was keen to stress that technology will only be used for the goal line and for no other areas of the game.
The Hawk-Eye system from Hawk-Eye Innovations (Basingstoke, UK) is based on high frame rate cameras placed around the stadium that are focused on each goal mouth to monitor the ball's trajectory when it is close to the line. The data from the cameras is fed into a central processing unit that analyzes the position of the ball relative to that of the goal line.
If the system recognizes that the ball has crossed the goal line, it relays that information to devices worn by officials on the field of play. Hawk-Eye can also deliver video replays that prove the validity of the decision made by the system.
The GoalRef system, developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS (Erlangen, Germany), produces low magnetic fields around the goals. A microchip inside the ball itself changes the magnetic field as it crosses the goal line and a message is then instantaneously transmitted to wristwatch like devices worn by game officials.
The UK Football Association (FA) hailed the decision an historic day for football. The FA has long been a leading proponent of goal-line technology to aid referees after a number of controversial incidents in recent years.
At the 2010 FIFA World Cup, for example, a Frank Lampard 'goal' in England’s 4-1 quarter-final defeat by Germany was not awarded despite TV replays suggesting the whole of the ball had crossed the line.
-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design