Finally: Goal-line tech for English Premier League, World Cup?

A decision by the International Football Association Board may very well lead to good technological sense at last prevailing in international soccer.

NMA NewsDirect/YouTube Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There's a retrograde little sports event happening in England this week called Wimbledon.

The organizers still force players to wear predominantly white clothing. Yes, even on the practice courts.

And yet, way back in 1980, Wimbledon began employing Cyclops technology to make service line calls.

Meanwhile, soccer (or football, as most of the world knows it) contented itself with sad little men carrying flags, often somehow blind to balls crossing the goal line.

But that perhaps will soon be no more. For the BBC reports that the International Football Association Board has finally decided that it should experiment with goal-line technology, starting in December at the slightly insignificant FIFA Club World Cup (not to be confused with the World Cup).

You might wonder what had suddenly changed these crusty old men's minds.

Embarrassment, that's what. Soccer's administrators have so often been caught with their technological pants around their pale, gout-threatened ankles that even they have begun to notice.

Two recent examples come to mind.

In the last World Cup, a shot from England's Frank Lampard against Germany was seen to be far over the goal line even by the most diehard of Teutons in Bavaria and yet not by the three officials (evidence embedded below).

In the recently concluded Euro 2012, England was on the receiving end of myopic fortune when a shot from Ukraine's Marko Devic was over the line and yet an extra assistant official -- placed on the goal line for that very purpose -- still denied a clear goal.

With copious amounts of yoke and albumen still smearing their cheeks, the International Football Association Board has approved not one, but two systems for testing.

One approved system is Hawk-Eye, which has been in use for some time now in sports such as cricket and tennis -- though not always without controversy.

The other system is GoalRef, which has already been tried out in a Danish Superliga game.

Each system has its own technological approach. Hawk-Eye relies on six cameras, coupled with software that triangulates the precise position of the ball.

GoalRef, on the other hand, simply shoves a microchip inside the ball. No, it doesn't make it rattle. Rather, thanks to low magnetic waves around the goal, it monitors for any change in the magnetic field on or behind the goal line.

In each case, the process takes about a second and a signal is sent to one of the officials.

Those who truly adore football (it's a habit calling it that, please forgive) will be delighted to hear that the English Premier League -- known for its fast pace, English passion, and largely non-English players -- is reportedly keen to quickly sign up for one or both of these technologies.

Moreover, if the Club World Cup experiment goes well, there is talk of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil enjoying goal-line technology.

I understand that soccer is still a couple of years away from locating swift technology that can conclusively prove whether a player has actually been kicked, punched, gouged, pushed, or scythed, rather than simulating the results thereof.

 

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