Goal line technology lived up to its star billing in the World Cup on Sunday, making an extremely tough call in France’s 3-0 victory over Honduras.
The Brazil World Cup marks the technology’s debut in soccer’s showpiece competition as football’s governing body FIFA attempts to end blown calls. The absence of goal line controversies in the tournament’s initial nine games, however, had left the GoalControl-4D system a virtual spectator, but it was called into action three minutes into the second half of France’s clash with Honduras.
After hitting the goal post, a shot from France star Karim Benzema rebounded across the goal line, where it was briefly fumbled across the line by Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares, who then pushed it out of the goal. The margin by which the ball cross the line, though, was so narrow that even TV replays of the incident were inconclusive.
Cue GoalControl’s 4D system. Within seconds, the camera-based system signaled “goal” to a watch worn by referee Sandro Ricci, who duly awarded the goal. There was, however, some confusion in the stadium when video replays initially flashed up “no goal”, before signaling “goal." The “no goal” message referred to the point when the ball rebounded along the goal line, before it reached the unfortunate Honduran keeper. So, after all the hype, GoalControl-4D proved that it can quickly make the tough calls.
“That was exactly the situation the system was built for,” GoalControl spokesman Rolf Dittrich told FoxNews.com. “The system worked well.”
The technology uses 14 high-speed cameras operating at up to 500 frames a second to capture a three-dimensional position of the ball. Each goal has seven cameras trained on it at all times. Fixed to a high point in the stadium, such as the roof, two cameras are at the halfway line, another two are placed between halfway and the goal line and another camera is located behind the goal.
The cameras are linked via fibre-optic cable to an image processing computer that monitors the movements of every object on the pitch. Specially-built detection software is used to filter out players and the referee. Thanks to the flood of information from the cameras, the system can monitor the ball's position based on x,y and z coordinates and report its three-dimensional position anywhere on the field. Crucially for under-pressure referees, this position is monitored both when the ball is on the ground and when it’s in the air.
GoalControl beat out three rivals for a chance to star in the World Cup, including another camera-based system, Hawk-Eye. Built by Sony-owned Hawk-Eye Innovations, Hawk-Eye is well known thanks to its use in tennis, so there was some surprise when the system lost out to GoalControl-4D.
Hawk-Eye has been awarded the contract to provide goal line technology to the Barclays Premier League in England. The Hawk-Eye technology is also in trials with the Dutch Eredivisie, where officials are looking at both goal line technology and the use of video.