Tuesday, February 8, 2011

FIFA to test 10 goal-line technology systems

Ten different goal-line technology systems will compete to persuade FIFA’s rules-making panel that referees need high-tech help to make decisions.

FIFA said Friday that the 10 systems, which it did not identify, will be tested privately at its headquarters next week by researchers from a Zurich-based technology institute.

“A report will be presented to the IFAB (International Football Association Board) following an independently monitored testing phase of 10 companies and their respective technology systems,” FIFA said in a statement.

The subject will top the agenda when IFAB -- comprising FIFA and the four British federations -- meets March 5 in Wales for its annual review of football’s laws.

IFAB also will consider letting UEFA use the five-referee match official system at the 2012 European Championship.

Other proposed rules changes relate to stray objects on the field, players wearing snoods and tights, plus referees using vanishing spray to mark where defensive walls stand.

Goal-line technology has long been resisted by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who has insisted that human error is part of the game.

However, Blatter bowed to pressure and promised to reopen the debate at the 2010 World Cup after England was denied a goal against Germany when Frank Lampard’s shot clearly crossed the line. The goal would have levelled the round-of-16 match at 2-2 before halftime, but England eventually lost 4-1.

IFAB said when approving the tests last October that “indication of whether a goal has been scored must be immediate and automatically confirmed within one second.” Only match officials would receive the information.

The panel will now evaluate how accurate and efficient the systems are before taking a “decision of principle and potential next step.”

Even if at least one system meets all FIFA’s demands, further discussions are likely about commercial use and which competitions will adopt the technology before goal-line technology is finally approved.

Candidates are expected to include the camera-based Hawk-Eye system used in tennis and cricket, and the Cairos team which has a micro chipped ball. Both systems were rejected by IFAB in 2008 and again last March.

FIFA also has proposed tightening rules on what referees should do when stray objects interfere with play.

An amendment regarding an “extra ball, other object or animal” could be added to Law 5, requiring referees to stop the match and restart with a dropped ball.

Currently, a section of Law 2 concerning the match ball only refers to “an extra ball” affecting play.

That rule caused confusion when Sunderland scored its notorious “beach ball” goal to beat Liverpool in a Premier League match in October 2009. A shot by Darren Bent deflected into the goal off a red beach ball which was thrown onto the field by a Liverpool fan.

IFAB also will debate whether the current players’ fashion for wearing neck-warming snoods is a safety risk, and consider a Wales federation proposal that tights must be worn in the same color as team shorts. The existing rule applies only to undershorts.

IFAB is a 125-year-old body comprising officials from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, plus FIFA representing the other 204 football nations plus referees, coaches and players worldwide. Each British member has one vote, FIFA has four and a proposed new rule needs six votes to be passed.

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