THE English Premier League is the first leading club competition to approve the use of goal-line technology, and Hawk-Eye will be deployed at stadiums from next season.
The Spanish and German leagues, however, said they would hold off from giving referees high-tech aids for at least two years, while the Italians are less enthusiastic for now. It is understood that Scottish football will not see the technology for a few years, due to the expense involved.
The English have championed Hawk-Eye for several years, but Fifa opposed the use of technology until 2010 when England’s World Cup campaign ended following a game in which Frank Lampard was denied a legitimate goal. Now England’s top stadiums can install the camera-based ball-tracking system from Hawk-Eye, which has been successfully deployed in tennis and cricket. It was chosen ahead of three rival products sanctioned by Fifa, which is set to use another camera system, GoalControl, at the World Cup next year.
Hawk-Eye, which is owned by Sony, sends a signal within a second of the ball crossing the line to the referee, who has the power to make the final call on a disputed goal. As well as being installed at the 20 Premier League clubs, Hawk-Eye is set to be used at Wembley Stadium in English football’s showpiece matches, including the FA Cup.
“(Technology) has been a big debate and it was pushed back but it’s great now to see that everyone is on the same page and that they have introduced it,” England coach Roy Hodgson said.
“At least it will stop some of those gross injustices that we have seen in recent years where goals have obviously been scored and not allowed. It will be one of those momentous days in football. It will be alongside days like changing the offside law, and not least the backpass to the goalkeeper law which, at the time, many of us were very sceptical about but now we have taken to our hearts and appreciate it.”
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand asked on Twitter: “What will we do without all the media/pub/friends etc debates? Will we miss it?”
Such debates will still exist elsewhere on the continent. The Italian football federation said that it has no current plans to implement goal-line technology, and will wait to see how successful it is elsewhere. Italy has tested Uefa president Michel Platini’s alternative to technology – placing an extra official behind each goal.
Germany’s Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga both say they do not plan to introduce the technology until at least 2015.
“We think this is the right way to go – that all major leagues will have this technology in place and we are looking at it,” La Liga chief executive Francisco Roca Perez said at the SoccerEx conference in Manchester.
“If it is not two seasons from now, it will be three, but as soon as we can. We are going to be watching the experience in the Premier League to see how it helps, and whatever things we can learn from the process.”
Perez does not think technology should be limited to goal-line decisions, and wants cameras to be used to rule on disputed offside decisions as well.
“Helping refereeing is essential because this has become a huge business with enormous implications,” he said. “It’s really sad when you see mistakes that are honest mistakes but affecting the outcome of a football match.”