On Tuesday February 19th, FIFA confirmed that goal-line technology would be in use at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, ending years of pressure for its introduction.

This decision came after a successful trial at the 2012 Club World Cup in Japan, where a goal-line system was implemented for all eight games, and was considered a success after proving popular with match officials, fans and teams alike. This was a small-scale experiment, but FIFA’s latest announcement means that things may be looking a little different come 2014.

Furthermore, on February 28th, the Premier League also announced they would be implementing the use of the technology into Premiership fixtures from the start of the 2013-14 season, and is in advanced talks with two major providers according to BBC Sport.

What can we expect to see from the 2013-14 season?

After Frank Lampard’s attempt against Germany in the 2010 FIFA World Cup was judged not to have crossed the line by officials, the International Football Association Board reconsidered the introduction of technology, aware that such blatant misinterpretations of the rules were not acceptable given present-day capabilities. As calls for change grew louder, FIFA employed EMPA, a Swiss-based test institute, with the role of finding a system that would pass all of FIFA’s necessary tests. After an intense two-year process, two technology providers – GoalRef and Hawk-Eye – became the first to be offered licence agreements. These would then be implemented at the Japanese stadiums for the Club World Cup, in order to examine how they functioned in practice, and after a successful trial it is these two systems that we can expect to see operating at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

How do they work?

GoalRef is a system whereby a magnetic field is applied to goals and the match ball, with cables running behind the goal to a processor. The processor uses the magnetic field to detect whether the ball has crossed the line and computes signals to the referee’s watch from antennae on the goal. It indicates within one second of the ball crossing the line to the referee as to whether a goal has been scored or not. Therefore, we won’t see an instant replay in the same way that we do in rugby or tennis, as the game must be able to continue after such an incident. The system is tested by match officials prior to games, in the same way that nets, equipment and kit are assessed, in order to make sure it is functioning properly, and therefore, it will be highly unlikely that we get any malfunctions in 2014. GoalRef was actually used during Chelsea’s 1-0 Final defeat to Brazilian club Corinthians at the Club World Cup.

Hawk-Eye is the second technological provider and is the camera system we know best from tennis and cricket. It uses a number of selectively placed cameras in order to determine whether a ball has crossed the line. It requires a team of people to install Hawk-Eye over the course of one-and-a-half weeks, suggesting that this system may be expensive and, thus, not able to be widespread into lower roots after the World Cup. Despite being second preference, it was relied upon in Japan, and will be implemented in various stadiums for 2014.

Referees’ and Players’ Perception

On the whole, referees are positive about its introduction, as it is likely that they have had to make subjective calls in the past, making it difficult to avoid anger and criticism from fans, players and managers. Whereas previously there would have been no definite answer, the new technology will reduce the number of subjective calls referees have to make, making their job much easier.

Turkish Official, Cuneyt Cakir, was referee for the Club World Cup Final in Japan and, in an interview with FIFA, said: “The perfect running of the system during the match made an impression on me, that the system will help us if there is such a critical situation. The training was really good, and we entered the field knowing exactly how the system would function.”

In addition to the view of Cakir, Cassio, goalkeeper of Brazilian champions Corinthians, said after his side’s victory against Chelsea: “The ball was very good. I think the new technology is going to improve football in the future.”

The move by FIFA certainly seems a step in the right direction. In a Label Sport article  by Callum Leslie-Draper entitled ‘Does Football Need Technology?’ back in November,  the same conclusion was effectively reached, and this is now reflected by football’s governing body, despite being perhaps the last party to have adopted the view. Where the two systems go beyond 2014 remains to be seen, but this is surely a one-way path, and as a result, football at the highest level will certainly be subject to change in the near future.

Is this delayed implementation too little too late, or is it right to implemented in modern day football? Comment below with your opinions on the matter, or find us on Twitter @labelonline. Make sure you keep an eye on our new Facebook page for all our latest content, including photos from Union nights out.


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