After years of debate, goal-line technology is finally to be introduced to the game of soccer worldwide after two systems were approved by the sport’s law-makers in Zurich last Thursday.
World governing body FIFA said it will first be used at the seven-team Club World Cup in Japan in December. There are also plans to use it at the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup, both to be staged in Brazil.
Both Hawk-Eye and GoalRef systems will be used in Japan after they won unanimous support from the International Football Association Board (IFAB) panel, which comprises officials from FIFA and the four British soccer associations.
GoalRef uses magnetic sensors inside the goal posts and crossbar to track a special ball which contains an embedded chip.
Hawk-Eye, meanwhile, is a camera-based system which anyone watching the tennis at Wimbledon over the past couple of weeks would have seen in action.
However, IFAB ruled out any possibility of video replays of goal-line decisions being shown on TV or on big screens at stadiums, as happens with Hawk-Eye.
Major League Soccer and the English Premier League are among those expected to adopt one of the goal-line systems, which will cost up to $250,000 per stadium. (GoalRef costs less to install than Hawk-Eye, according to developers.)
In a statement, MLS executive vice president of competition and game operations Nelson Rodriguez said the league is eager to begin the process toward implementing one of the systems, which could be in play for the 2013 season.
“We first need to research the installation, testing, staffing and training required,” said Rodriguez. “It is unlikely that either system could be in place for our games in 2012, but we will examine the feasibility of doing so by the start of our 18th season in 2013.”
Meanwhile, UEFA’s proposal of a five-referees system to officiate matches —placing an additional assistant beside each goal — won IFAB approval after three years of trials in more than 1,000 matchups.
IFAB also agreed to allow headscarves to be worn by female players after requests from some Muslim countries. A decision on the design and color of the scarves will be made later this year.
The issue hit the headlines last year when Iran was kept from playing in an Olympic qualifying match against Jordan because its players refused to remove their hijabs.