By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – FIFA, world football’s (soccer’s) governing body, arrived in Brazil on Monday to make a further inspection prior to the 2014 World Cup. Their visit coincides with the country’s countdown to this year’s Confederations Cup, with exactly one hundred days to go until the tournament kicks-off.
Jérôme Valcke, FIFA’s general secretary, said it was an exciting time to be in the country as major events begin to draw near. Valcke published a note on the FIFA website claiming he is looking forward to the tournament and highlighting the hundred day countdown to the Confederations Cup.
“We will arrive at the hundred day mark for the opening ceremony of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup that will take place on June 15th in Brasília… Despite some stadiums still being in the final stages of construction, the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) is beginning to build a team of workers in each host city”, described Valcke.
Valcke will finish his tour in Rio de Janeiro Thursday, March 7th. He is planning a visit to the Maracanã Stadium, the site of the Confederations and World Cup Finals. After three months of delays, the Maracanã is now considered 87 percent complete.
FIFA’s upcoming visit comes in the wake of a monumental decision. Last week, for the first time in football history, president Sepp Blatter declared that goal-line technology would be used at the World Cup in Brazil. German company GoalControl GmBH obtained the necessary license from FIFA last Friday, March 1st.
The system should be given a test run at the Confederations Cup, but GoalControl still face competition from English company Hawk-Eye for the final contract.
The plan is to have fourteen cameras placed around the pitch to cover the entire playing area, with each camera pointed at the goals.
In theory, whenever the ball reaches the penalty area the technology begins to work – by focusing on ball position as it moves – continually. If and when the ball crosses the line, a signal is sent to the referee in less than a second.
Tests were carried out in Germany last month. The accuracy and speed of the machinery gave the green light to a deal, making World Cup history and will likely change the face of international and club football permanently.
Yet while the latest innovation into the world’s most popular sport could rule out arbitrary error – at the last World Cup England midfielder Frank Lampard crucially had a goal incorrectly chalked off against Germany that would have leveled the score at 2-2 – football fans are split on whether it is a positive move for the game or not.
Charlie Elgy, who works for Premiership side and European champions Chelsea, thinks the introduction of goal-line technology is a step forward for the sport. “Goal-line technology will smooth out incorrect decision-making and make it fairer for teams, the referee and the fans. All other major sports, like tennis and rugby, use technology to their benefit and it only causes a delay of a few seconds.”
São Paulo based businessman Sean Colgan, however, believes the introduction of goal-line technology will only serve to hinder football in the long run.
“It makes less wealthy leagues seem less valid. Eventually, television stations and media outlets would build in sponsorship deals on decisions and we would end up like the NFL, with a pause every fifteen seconds. Football is loved because of its fluidity,” he said.