KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- The Premier League’s decision to hurry in the application of goal-line technology this season drew a disdainful reaction in some quarters of the German game. The Bundesliga and its clubs decided that the scarce number of occasions for its use did not justify the outlay. Or, at least, not yet.
But one of the key struts of the GLT argument is not the number of incidents but the profile of such incidents when they do erupt.
For example, only one goal-line incident occurred at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa but world football and its rulers came in for ridicule right around the planet and back again because of the context of Frank Lampard’s ‘phantom goal’ against Germany.
Similarly the two incidents in the Bundesliga where GLT would have had a role to play have both been high-profile, reflecting partly on the German decision not to rush to application.
Fair play debate
The victim club on both occasions were Hoffenheim. The latest storm erupted on Friday when a goal credited to Leverkusen’s Stefan Kiessling left the Bundesliga facing questions about organisational efficiency, refereeing credibility and players’ fair play standards.
Bayer Leverkusen won 2-1 at Hoffenheim after being awarded a goal when Stefan Kiessling’s header for their second goal clearly went in through the side net. However top FIFA referee Felix Brych awarded the goal while Kiessling was surrounded by celebrating team-mates.
Leverkusen officials admitted the goal should not have been given and Hoffenheim’s football director Alexander Rosen said they would protest.
Brych was loudly jeered at the final whistle. He said: “I had a slight doubt, but the reaction of the players was clear. Nobody said to me that the ball did not go in. It’s not great to have given a goal that didn’t exist.”
His next refereeing assignment is the high-pressure Champions League clash between Milan and Barcelona on Tuesday.
Kiessling initially put his hands to his head in apparent anger at having headed wide. But then, as he said: “Everyone came over to me to celebrate.”
Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia added: “I saw after the game that the ball went just past the post. During the match I celebrated but of course it’s a little unpleasant to win like that.”
CHRISTIAN SEIFERT (DFL ceo) asked in March when GLT would be introduced in Germany: Certainly not before 2015. We talked with everyone but we understand the tolerance with the ball is up to 3cm and this, for me, is too much to be certain. Also, we have only perhaps five to eight incidents each season and all, apart from maybe one of them, is more or less clear.
The game went from bad to worse for Hoffenheim. Roberto Firmino had a penalty saved by keeper Bernd Leno, thumped the loose ball against a post and then saw team-mate Omer Toprak strike the same upright.
Sven Schipplock’s eventual headed goal was too little too late.
Earlier Sidney Sam had given temporary league leaders Leverkusen a first-half lead with his seventh goal of the season.
The previous incident involving Hoffenheim was on the opening day of the season when Kevin Volland chipped Nurnberg keeper Raphael Schaefer. TV replays demonstrated clearly that the ball landed beyond the goal-line before spinning back into play.
Volland had begun to celebrate as Nurnberg players turned away in disappointment when referee Thorsten Kinhoefer waved play on. Hoffenheim, 1-0 ahead at the time, were held 2-2.
The incident revived memories of Thomas Helmer’s ‘phantom goal’ for Bayern Munich in 1994. The Germany defender pulled the ball wide in goalmouth scramble only for the referee to rule that it had gone in. Bayern went on to beat Nurnberg 2-1. The match result was cancelled and a replay ordered; Bayern won it 5-0 and Nurnberg were ultimately relegated.
The International Board changed its mind definitively on goal-line technology last summer, after prolonged testing. A German company won a tender for this year’s Confederations Cup and next year’s World Cup.
This may not have gone down too well with the former UK company Hawk-Eye whose pioneering work in the late 1990s had brought widespread use of decision technology in cricket, tennis and snooker.
The Hawk-Eye system is based on the principle of triangulation using the visual images and timing data provided by 14 high-speed video cameras at different locations around the area of play.
The software can track the ball and predict the flight path, even if several cameras are being blocked. It also records the ball’s flight path and stores it in a database that is used to create a graphic image of the flight path, so the images can be shown to commentators, coaches and audiences.
The equipment is checked before each game and, if the ball crosses the goal-line within the goal frame, the referee’s encrypted watch ‘buzzes’ in less than one second.
The Premier League system is formally described as a Goal Decision System. Installation cost each club a basic £250,000 and it was used first at Wembley in the Community Shield between Manchester United and Wigan.
The system proved effective on the first weekend of the season at Chelsea. A Branislav Ivanovic header hit Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor who saved on the line at the second attempt. Fans thought it might be a goal but there was no reaction from referee Jonathan Moss’s watch.
Subsquently the Hawk-Eye view of the incident was broadcast on television and on the big screen in the ground. Kevin de Bruyne said: “It was clearly not over the line. The technology is good so there will be no further questions.”
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