The two systems, Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, have passed exhaustive scientific tests to the satisfaction of the Ifab. The urgency to address the situation, given fresh impetus by Ukraine’s disallowed goal against England last week, will also sweep aside any lingering doubts over the two systems.
Although the tests still raised questions over whether the systems would be 100 per cent accurate in every circumstance, the results are understood to be positive enough even for the doubters on the Ifab.
Ifab will stress however that the systems will be approved as an aid to referees rather than the ultimate decision-maker – the referee will still make the final call if he or she has any doubts.
The goal-line incident last week was a serious blow to the one remaining leading opponent of goal-line technology, Uefa president Michel Platini, who has been promoting a rival scheme of an extra official standing behind each dead-ball line. Platini said it would be an “historical mistake” if technology was introduced.
In the Ukraine-England incident, John Terry hooked the ball back into play when it was already across the line – no goal was awarded despite the extra official being no more than ten yards away and staring straight along the line.
The incident fell perfectly into the lap of Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who is now a strong backer of goal-line technology and who opposes the extra two officials on the grounds that in many countries there are not a sufficient number of referees.
The Ifab will also consider whether the Uefa experiment with extra officials has been a success. The law-making body is made up of Fifa, who have four votes, and the four home nations, who have one vote each. Any law change needs at least six votes.
A summary of results of the tests on the technology carried out by the EMPA – the Swiss Federal Laboratory for Materials Science and Technology – was discussed by Ifab members at a meeting earlier this month.
The Hawk-Eye system – developed by a British company now owned by Sony – is based on cameras and GoalRef – a Danish-German development – uses magnetic fields.
Each system is required to send an immediate message to a watch worn by the referee when the ball crosses the line. The tests by EMPA were comprehensive, and included exposing the equipment and watches to extreme heat and cold, as well as humidity and heavy rain. Experiments also took place during live matches including England’s match with Belgium on 2 June.
Both systems are expected to be approved as Fifa would open themselves up to accusations of favouritism if only Hawk-Eye got the go-ahead, given that Sony are major Fifa sponsors.
It is still likely to be months before any system is up and working – the systems will have to be licensed and installed in stadiums, and then certified that they are working. The Club World Cup in Japan in December is likely to be the first competition to use the technology.