On Monday 7th February the 10 companies which think they have the acceptable solution to FIFA’s requirements for goal line technology will have the chance to demonstrate their product in Zurich and be assessed by EMPA, an independent Swiss research institution.

They will set up their system at FIFA’s Headquarters and will have to pay a hefty fee for the privilege but if they are successful the potential rewards will be great.

Companies which are expected to take part include Adidas/Cairos, whose microchip inside a ball system has been tested by FIFA before, plus Swiss watch firms Longines and Tag Heuer. The English Hawkeye System, which is used in tennis, is also expected to be in Zurich.

There are very strict criteria set for the systems:

  • The technology would apply solely to the goal line, and only to determine whether a goal has been scored or not
  • The system must be accurate
  • The indication of whether a goal has been scored must be immediate and automatically confirmed within one second
  • The indication of whether a goal has been scored will only be communicated to the match officials

The results will be reported to the Annual General Meeting of the International FA Board at Newport, South Wales on 5th March 2011.

Goal-line technology was put back on the IFAB agenda following a major refereeing controversy at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when a goal by England midfielder Frank Lampard against Germany was not awarded.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, despite being a self-confessed advocate for human judgement, admitted it would be “a nonsense” not to reopen the file on technology following the World Cup incident and referred the matter to the IFAB.

UEFA President Michel Platini is strongly against the introduction of technology and is convinced his alternative system of an additional assistant referee behind each goal is sufficient.

“With additional referees you don’t need goal-line technology,” said Platini. “If you want to put goal-line technology in place, it will be for maybe one or two cases every five years. I want more justice but I want human justice, using human eyes.”

The Board will also receive a progress report on the UEFA sponsored experiment which will run until 2012.

No definite decisions will be taken on goal line technology but it is likely that successful systems will be further tested in future FIFA competitions.

Goal line incidents are relatively unusual but gain great publicity when they happen in high profile matches. The reality is that there are very few leagues which could afford to install these systems, especially when their use would be very limited. Also there are regular maintenance costs to ensure 100% accuracy.

The additional assistant system can also be very expensive, especially in continental competitions. Significant costs would be involved in bringing two additional officials from Australia to referee an AFC Champions League match in Iran for example or to bring additional officials from South Africa for a CAF competition match in Algeria.

Maybe we should just accept that football is a game where mistakes are made by all those involved – referees, assistants, players and coaches – and this is its attraction.

There are not too many post match arguments after a game of chess – there are plenty after a game of football!

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