Now that the FIFA World Cup 2014 has already begun, every football fan around the globe is curious to know about the Goal Line Technology (GLT), also known as the Goal Decision System. ‘To err is human’ and a referee is no exception, particularly with regard to the position of the ball when it crosses the line, to be declared as a goal. The constraining factors for the referee are the obstruction of vision by the goal keeper, other players or even the lineman. More impending factor is the speed of the ball vis-a-vis the minute line of goal. Therefore, FIFA has taken every care to see that the best Goal Line Technology is adopted for the 2014 Football World Cup and has awarded the task to GoalControl 4-D.
“Boss is always right” is an acceptable adage in management context. This arises out of professional compulsion, the need to follow the ‘rule of the game’. The Football World Cup accepts “Referee is always right”. However, knowing it pretty well that ‘to err is human’, the decision of a ‘win’ or ‘loss’ being left to human factor, has been most frustrating for the round the globe football fans. The incidence of FIFA World Cup 2010 must be fresh in your mind. In the England versus Germany knockout match Frank Lamped shot the ball that crossed the goal line entirely. Everyone clearly watched this and the most expected decision was being awaited. The decision of the referee went against England that was trailing 2-1 at that juncture. Ultimately, England lost 4-1 to Germany. That bitter experience compelled FIFA to take the help of Goal Line Technology to help the referee to be ‘right’ in taking his decision of goal score.
A similar situation arose in the Euro 2012, questioning the decision of the referee. Marko Devic of Ukraine shot a goal against England which was not counted. England won 1-0, leaving the football authorities to ponder over the matter. It was an impending task for the International Football Association Boar (IFAB) to maintain the sanctity, popularity and conformity of the game. Even the critics of GLT found it time opportune to adopt this technique to ensure legitimate goal and avoid phantom goals.
What it means
Goal Line Technology is designed to determine whether a goal has been scored or not and then to transmit the same to the referee within one second. This is done through the vibration and visual signal sent to the referee’s smart watch. In order to confirm to the specifications prescribed by the FIFA Quality Program related to Goal-line Technology system, certain specific technologies are required to exist in the GLT.
Goal Line Technology is a camera-based technique that alerts the referee when exactly the ball crosses the ‘goal line’. It eliminates the human error that is likely to arise in deciding a goal against a team. The system uses a magnetic field for tracking a ball with sensor suspended inside. A grid is made by burying cables in the penalty box and behind the goal line. Electrical current runs through the cables. On measuring the magnetic grids, the sensor relays the position of the ball to a computer.
How it works
GLT is designed on the principle of ‘triangulation’. It uses visual images and timing data by deploying high-speed video cameras at various locations of the area of play. The high frame rate cameras triangulate and track the ball in flight. GLT records the flight path of the ball and stores in a database. This can be used for creating a graphic image of the flight path. The images can be used by commentators, coaches and audiences for their respective purposes.
The technology of magnetic field plays a crucial role in GLT. Passive electronic circuits are embedded in the ball and a low frequency magnetic field is created around the goal. Thin live cables are put underground the penalty box and behind the goal line for creating a grid. The magnetic grids are measured by the sensor and the data are relayed to a computer that ascertains if the ball has crossed the goal line. A goal alert is displayed on the referee’s watch, through the encrypted visual signal.
Filtration of unwanted object like players and referee during the process of video shooting of the play is an equally important technology in GLT. The position of the ball is captured continuously in three dimensions, namely the X, Y, and Z co-ordinates when the ball is at a close proximity to the goal, within a few millimeters. The virtual 3-D images of the whole event could be displayed on a screen.
Another important aspect of the technology is that it does not intrude in the fundamental features in the game of football. It does not intend to undermine the function, role or ability of the referee. Rather it aims at assisting the referee in taking the right decision about the scoring of the goal. The referee will no more be required to stop the game for referring to other match officials for viewing the replay of the game. The smart watch of the referee constitutes a part of the technology of the GLT. It communicates with the referee through vibration and visual signals about the ball, passing through the goal line.
Choosing the best
On 5th July 2012, the International Football Association Board officially approved the adoption of the Goal Line Technology (GLT). The FIFA Quality Programs carried on multiple tests as prescribed in the Law of the Game. A number of companies offered their products on GLT for tests. These encompassed CAIROS, backed by Adidas, Hawk-Eye, Goal Ref and GoalControl 4D GmbH.
Hawk-Eye and Goal Ref’s systems were tested in different times and weather conditions in real as well as simulated matches at FIFA Club World Cup, held in Japan in 2012. However, both could not impress the FIFA authorities with their technologies. Hawk-Eye of Britain use 6 high speed cameras and vision processing for tracking the every position of the ball. Its technology needs netting of the goal to be black against the regular; ‘white’ and does not encompass the deployment of a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
CAIROS technology was tested to be slow and inaccurate and hence was rejected outright. Micro-second knowledge of goal confirmation could not be delivered by them. The Danish-German company Goal Ref transmits only the signal of ‘Goal’ or ‘No Goal’ to the referee. Hence, it was not accepted by FIFA.
Why GoalControl GmbH won
Of the 9 bidders for the GLT, GoalControl GmbH has been approved as the provider of GLT at the 12 stadiums of Brazil where World Cup 2014 is being played. Nearly $5.3 million has been sanctioned by FIFA for making use of the Goal Line Technology during all FIFA World Cup matches.
The GLT of Germany’s GoalControl GmbH was subjected to rigorous tests at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil in June 2013. Their GLT provided the detailed information about crossing of goal line by the ball. It also worked successfully at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco played at December 2013.
The technology provided by GoalControl GmbH makes use of 7 high powered cameras at each goal mouth, installed at elevated positions. These cameras take the visual images and timing data that are processed by a bank of computers in real time. The processed data are then transmitted to a central computer that has been programmed for analyzing a pre-defined playing area as outlined in the rules of the game. This information is applied for determining the goal line being crossed by the ball. Within one second of the ball crossing the ‘goal line’ a radio signal is transmitted to the smart-watch of the referee.
This time, FIFA is determined not to allow the repetition of controversial goal denial of the England-Germany game. Goal Line Technology ensures accuracy in taking the decision about the scoring of goal, eliminating the possibility of human error of judgment. Too often, during the play, a referee is required to consult the lineman or consult the reply officials to be sure of taking the right decision. GLT saves considerable time on this score. You can now have more playing time to watch, rather than getting tedious with the interruption in the game.