The date was June 27, 2010. The venue was the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The stadium was packed with English and German fans looking forward to the round-of-16 clash between two football giants. Unfortunately, the game was marred by Englishman Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal (the ball crossed the goal-line but was not awarded) in the 39th minute. If the goal had stood, the game would have been tied at 2-2 and could have gone either way. However, the referee waved play on and in the end Germany comfortably won 4-1. Nevertheless, the incident did bring to the fore the greater need for goal-line technology to be put into practice.
Cut to this year’s World Cup in Brazil. With less than 70 days to go, this summer’s sporting extravaganza will be the first time that technology will be used in various capacities during a tournament of this stature, according to the sport’s governing body FIFA. Obviously, the most prominent (and controversial) feature will be the goal-line technology (GLT) system.
The system works by using 14 cameras through a network of high-speed video footage to track the ball’s position at any given time. The position of the ball is regularly and automatically captured in three dimensions as soon as it approaches the goal-line. When the ball has completely crossed the line, the system sends an encrypted signal to the referee's watch in less than a second. The referee can now take an informed view on whether to award a goal or not in situations where he is unable to make a decision with the naked eye.
Technology has already been successfully tried and tested in sports such as cricket and tennis. In the latter, the Hawk-Eye officiating tennis system is omnipresent in its use across most major global tournaments. It has already proved to be an invaluable resource in judging whether a ball is in or out—a decision that is based on the finest of line-call margins—and in many cases, practically impossible for the human eye to judge. The system, which is similar to goal-line technology, relies on a 3D position of the ball in order to judge its trajectory and finally, where it will land.
With cricket, technology is constantly being put to use with evolution of the Decision Review System (DRS), taking into account edges of the bat (Snicko), where the ball has hit the batsman or bat (Hot Spot), as well as Hawk-Eye for LBW decisions.
For football, if goal-line technology can help in making more accurate decisions and incidents like Lampard’s disallowed goal of four years ago may well be a thing of the past.
How do you think the implementation of new technology will affect the World Cup and the sport as a whole? Please leave your comments in the section below.