CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in Southampton: Goal-line technology has arrived. It’s ‘landed’ in Southampton and will be tested in public at the Hampshire FA Senior Cup Final between Eastleigh FC and AFC Totton next Wednesday.
Not that the players or fans or match officials involved in the county challenge will be aware of it even if a Frank Lampard-type ‘phantom’ goal occurs.
The law-making International Football Association Board is using the match ‘merely’ as part of the second phase of testing for the GLT version produced by the British Hawk-Eye company (already part of the ‘judicial’ scenery in tennis and cricket).
The board decided in March that, if the Hawk-Eye and/or GoalRef systems survived the latest round of testing then they would be approved for competitive use from next season.
Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium is the venue. Installation of Hawk-Eye’s equipment began this week and the outcome of its testing is being undertaken by the Swiss research institute EMPA under the auspicies of the board.
Neil Barry, the head of senior referees development at the Football Association and a member of the board’s GLT working group, said: “I haven’t come across a ref who’s not in favour. It’s not really a matter of opinion: there are a number of instances where sometimes referees need that technology to be sure. If it works then I think every referee would welcome goal line technology.”
Barry also dismissed concerns that the introduction of goal-line technology would prompt calls for video replay decisions on other elements in a match.
He said: “In my opinion we are a very conservative organisation and I would be astonished if we moved on to other forms of technology. We would have to be really convinced in order to approve other technology – we are always open to debate though.”
Goal-line technology was abandoned by the International Board three years ago after inconclusive testing but was revived within hours of Lampard’s ‘non’-goal for England against Germany in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Barry added: “After the board’s annual meeting this year following the World Cup there has been a total change in attitude and emphasis [within FIFA]. The possibility of the technology working and being licensed means I’m pretty confident that if the tests are positive that when the board meets next on July 2 that will be agreed and licensed.”
Chip in the ball
GoalRef, a Danish/German system, will be tested next month. That system uses an electronic chip in the ball which responds to a magnetic field in the goal when it has fully crossed the line.
Hawk-Eye’s relies on cameras placed around the stadium at all angles. Managing director Steve Carter said that the “rigorous nature” of the testing phase meant that every football fan could “sleep easy”.
He added: “It’s definitely a benefit of a camera based tech that we don’t do anything with the ball. Even if scientifically there’s no difference – if there is a chip in the ball that could become an issue. And we also benefit from having a video replay to explain the decision.”
Carter said the testing variations would replicate scenarios which have provided contentious goal-line decisions in the past, such as incidents in this year’s FA Cup semi-final and final. In the latter instance some Liverpool players claimed a goal after Chelsea keeper Petr Cech pushed an Andy Carroll header against the underside of the crossbar.
He added: “The testing process undertaken at the moment means testing scenarios that are far harder than the situation that happened in the cup final.”
D-Day for Hawk-Eye or GoalRef will be a special meeting of the International Board in Kyiv on July 2, the morning after the final in the Ukraine capital of Euro 2012.
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