One aspect of the World Cup that has football fans confused is the goal line technology. Confused about how goal line technology works at the World Cup? We demystify this sporting tech in simple terms. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Goal Line Technology Used During World Cup Match Between France and Honduras
In the image above, Goalkeeper Noel Valladares of Honduras scores an own goal (France’s second of the match), as he fumbles the ball over the line. The France and Honduras match took place at Estadio Beira-Rio on June 15, 2014. You can see another angle in the Vine below.
France’s second goal in their World Cup matchup against Honduras was an important moment in World Cup history. This goal was the first goal that was analyzed by the new automated goal line technology. The technology determines whether the ball has crossed the line, which is helpful during especially close calls that are difficult to call with confidence.
The Guardian writes:
“The technology tracks the position of the ball in relation to the goal line, with the aim of eliminating human error when deciding whether a goal has been scored or not. France’s goal provoked plenty of debate about how the technology worked…
The video replay showed two events. One when the goal hit the post and bounced out, which was ruled not a goal, and a second as the ball hit the Honduras goal keeper and bounced over the line, which was ruled a goal for France.”
2. Goal Line Technology Links to Referee’s Wrists
The goal line technology being used at the World Cup offers real-time feedback for the referees. When a goal is detected by the cameras and computer system, referees on the pitch will receive an instantaneous vibration on a smartwatch. Along with the vibration notification, the refs also get a visual update on the watch: if a goal is made, “GOAL” flashes on the watch display.
Ars Technica notes that goal line tech is designed to make football fans happier…though that hasn’t been the case thus far in the 2014 World Cup. Ars Technica writes:
“The new gear is designed to avoid incidents like one that happened during the previous World Cup in 2010, in a match between England and Germany. During the thirty-seventh minute, English midfielder Frank Lampard fired a shot that struck the German goal’s crossbar, bouncing downward and into the goal. The referees ruled that it had not crossed the line even though cameras mounted above the goal clearly showed that it had.”
3. Goal Line Technology Isn’t as New as You Think
The video above from CNN explains more about this technology.
Goal line tech may be a hot button issue today, but the technology has been around for several years. Back in 2012, the New York Times ran an article about various types of goal line technology in development. The article cited a price of $200,000 per stadium to install such a goal line technology system.
The New York Times wrote that goal line technology had the opportunity to reduce fan anguish:
“Disputed goals (the entire ball must completely cross the goal line for a goal to be awarded) have marred the sport at its highest levels for years. In 1966, England, as the host, won its first and only World Cup title, over West Germany, on an overtime goal by Geoff Hurst that is still the subject of intense debate.”
Premiere League notes that one type of goal line tech, “Hawk-Eye,” has roots that stretch as far back as 1999. During the Premier League’s 2006/07 season, an early version of goal line camera technology was used at Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage stadium.
ESPN UK notes that GoalControl, the goal tech system at the World Cup, was first used at the FIFA Club World Cup this past December. The State writes that GoalControl has undergone 2,400 tests in Brazil, and each stadium in Brazil has 14 cameras that take 500 images per second.
4. Goal Line Technology Has a Slim Margin of Error
Trust me. Goal. #ballin
— brazuca (@brazuca) June 15, 2014
The above tweet from the Adidas World Cup ball makes a sly joke about the ball being behind the goal line in the controversial France-Honduras match.
NBC Sports notes that there is a very slim margin of error when using goal line technology:
“In an article on South Carolina’s The State last week, GoalControl head man Dirk Broichhausen said the margin of error is officially +/- 1.5 cm, but is more realistically around +/- 0.5 cm. The [controversial French] goal surely looked of a slimmer margin than that.”
It is likely that no matter how advanced goal line technology gets in the years to come, there will always be some margin of error.
5. Goal Line Technology Squashes ‘Human Element’ of Football, According to Some
The video above features a compilation of many different football matches from over the years. Each match features a controversial goal where goal line technology could have been helpful.
Goal line technology is highly controversial in the world of football. FIFA president Sepp Blatter went on the record way back in 2008 about goal line technology, arguing that it removed a certain something from the sport. He stated:
“We have 260 million people directly involved in the game…Other sports regularly change the laws of the game to react to the new technology…We don’t do it and this makes the fascination and the popularity of football.”
Around the same time, WFA secretary general David Collins said that goal line tech would “hinder” the flow of the game.
More recently, Michel Platini, head of European football’s ruling body UEFA, has gone on the record as being against goal line tech. CNN quoted him as saying:
“Why don’t we have technology for offside decisions as well? Where does it stop? It’s not goal-line technology in itself.
I am against technology coming into force to actually make decisions. It invades every single area. If tomorrow someone handballs it on the line and the referee doesn’t see it, what then?
We can’t just have goal-line technology. We also need sensors to see if someone has handballed it.”