By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – FIFA, world football’s governing body, is set to hold a two stage test process for goal-line technology, which if successful could see a new system in place as soon as next summer. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has also insinuated that the new system could be in place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The first tests are set to be held between September and December of this year, with the best systems progressing to the second stage in March 2012.
FIFA is only willing to allow goal-line technology, a contentious issue for almost two decades, if it can be proved the system is completely reliable. Bidders to provide the systems will have to prove their technology is 90 percent accurate for the first stage of tests, but the second stage tests will demand a perfect success rate.
Blatter is keen to avoid a similar embarrassment to the one his organization felt at last year’s World Cup. In the second round match between Germany and England, a Frank Lampard shot hit the crossbar and bounced over the goal-line but was not awarded. At the time, the ‘goal’ would have leveled the scores at 2-2, although England went on to lose 4-1.
The first stage of goal-line technology tests will be divided into three parts; first, shots from all over the pitch into an empty net. A 100 percent success rate is needed to pass.
The second, a ‘dynamic tests’, in which a ball-shooting machine will fire shots into the goal where a fixed wall will at first stop the ball crossing the line, and then be moved back inside the goal at different distances from the line. A 90 percent success rate is needed to pass. Finally, the ‘static tests’: a ball is placed on a sledge and moved at slow motion across the goal-line, sometimes with the ball rotating. A 90 percent success rate of this test is also needed to pass.
The second stage of technology tests will be more thoroughly scientific, with FIFA claiming they will be carried out in “different lighting conditions as per the FIFA requirements for the 2014 World Cup.”
The FIFA statement said the second tests will include “more stimulated scenarios as well as other factors: software reliability; transmission signal quality; performance under changing weather conditions as well as on different pitch surfaces.”
Timing will be crucial come testing time; the International Football Association Board (IFAB) have stated they want a system that can decide upon questionable matters almost instantly. An IFAB statement said: “The indication of whether a goal has been scored must be immediate and automatically confirmed within one second.”
British company Hawk-Eye, whose technology has been used in cricket for ten years and in tennis since 2005, has confirmed it will be bidding. Paul Hawkins, the inventor of Hawk-Eye, believes his technology can make a decision within half a second. “Our system for football is easier than for cricket. Our name will be in the hat. Technology is not here to hurt anyone, it can only make things better,” he said.
The English Football Association had wanted to introduce Hawk-Eye to its professional leagues in 2009, but Blatter prevented goal-line technology experiments in 2008. Only under intense pressure has he backed down and conceded it may be beneficial, and profitable, for FIFA.