Prompted into action by England midfielder’s Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany at the 2010 World Cup, Fifa will use goal-line technology actively for the first time in Japan this week.
The technology will be employed in today’s Club World Cup curtain raiser between Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Auckland City as football’s governing body finally answers calls for it to join the 21st century. Hawk-eye, widely used in cricket and tennis, and GoalRef, which uses a microchip in the ball,, will be used at venues in Toyota and Yokohama.
“The important thing is for the technologies to perform as well as possible and there are no mistakes,” said Hawk-Eye’s managing director Steve Carter. “Obviously the worst scenario you can have is if the technology isn’t that accurate is the TV broadcast cameras proving that the answer’s wrong.”
With European champions Chelsea, whose players have been at the centre of several goal-line controversies in recent years, competing in Japan, the science is set for even closer scrutiny. “Hawk-Eye has seven cameras per goalmouth,” said Carter. “You’re talking millimetre level and that’s absolutely essential for football.”
Carter referred to John Terry’s goal-line clearance in England’s 1-0 win over Ukraine at Euro 2012 as an example of the precision required to get decisions right. “If you look at the John Terry incident, we measured it using the TV footage, the ball was actually 25 millimetres over the line,” he said. “That is well within the accuracy of our system – two, three, four millimetres of accuracy in that scenario.”
Fifa had resisted pressure for technology, successfully used in other sports including cricket, tennis, rugby and American Football, for years. Lampard’s goal for England against Germany in South Africa, not seen by either the referee or linesman, prompted Sepp Blatter and Fifa to finally turn to science. “What happened at the World Cup in 2010 cannot happen again,” said Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke.
Hawk-Eye and GoalRef are front-runners for next year’s Confederations Cup in Brazil, although Fifa has kept the door open for other competing companies. “It is expensive but, over time, technology gets cheaper,” said Valcke, adding that Fifa had invested $2 million to date on development and installation at stadiums in Japan. “The more market competition there is the cheaper it will get. It has to be available for all but at the same time it has to be accurate. We can’t afford mistakes.”
After analysing data taken from the Club World Cup, Fifa will choose which system to implement for the six Confederations Cup venues by the end of March. Those chosen will remain in place for the 2014 World Cup.