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No more blown calls in soccer? FIFA to use goal-line technology

Human error in soccer game calls, like the one that denied a clear goal by English midfielder Frank Lampard against Germany at the 2010 World Cup, may soon be a thing of the past.

July 05, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • Jerome Valcke, FIFA's general secretary, answers questions at a press conference about goal-line technology in Zurich, Switzerland.
Jerome Valcke, FIFA's general secretary, answers questions at a… (AP Photo / KEYSTONE / Steffen…)

And the computer says, GOOOOAAAL!

On Thursday members of the International Football Assn. Board (IFAB) approved two types of goal-line technology to assist soccer referees in determining whether or not a player has scored a goal.

Human error in soccer game calls, like the one that denied a clear goal by English midfielder Frank Lampard against Germany at the 2010 World Cup, may soon be a thing of the past.

The new technology will be used by FIFA (international soccer's other governing group) World Cup in Tokyo in December, and at the World Cup in 2014, as long as there are no unexpected hiccups, said FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke at a press conference on Thursday.

It is the first time that technology will be used to aid soccer referees in IFAB's more than 120-year history.

IFAB started testing goal-line technologies at the end of 2011. Eight systems were put through a battery of tests but only two made the cut.

GoalRef uses magnetic-field technology to determine when a goal has been scored  — essentially creating an invisible magnetic "curtain" across the goal line, which is "disturbed" when a soccer ball, outfitted with a small electrical device, goes through it. 

The HawkEye system, which also won approval on Thursday, uses six to eight high-speed cameras to to triangulate the position of the ball. The HawkEye system is already used to call tennis and cricket matches.

Both systems would inform referees and other match officials when a goal has been scored within one second via a vibration and visual signal on a special wristwatch. 

This immediate alert was an essential requirement for IFAB, which requires that referees determine if a goal has been scored in just five seconds. 

Reaction to the announcement has been of the, "What took so long?" variety.

As RedBoyBJJ wrote in a comment on FIFA's website, "Thank you, thank you. Welcome to the new millennium...."

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