World football enters technological era

Goal line technology gets rave reviews
A FIFA official displays new goal-line technology, developed by GoalRef, for the press in Yokohama on December 5, 2012 ahead the Club World Cup football tournament beginning on December 6. The wrist watch displays 'goal' and vibrates whenever the ball enters the goal. Referees can reject the use of goal-line technology or even overrule it in the Club World Cup, which starts this week in Japan, a senior FIFA official said on December 5. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

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Story highlights

  • FIFA uses goal-line technology at Club World Cup opener in Japan
  • Two competing systems are being trialed at the global championships
  • GoalRef, which uses a magnetic field system, and camera-based Hawk Eye are the systems
  • On the pitch, Sanfrecce Hiroshima reach quarterfinals with defeat of Auckland City

Football history was made at the opening match of FIFA's Club World Cup in Japan on Thursday when goal-line technology (GLT) was made available to a referee for the first time.

Host side Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat New Zealand's Auckland City 1-0 to earn a quarterfinal clash with African champions Al Ahly of Egypt, but the result will remain a footnote to FIFA's "revolution".

Despite resisting calls for the introduction of GLT for many years, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke stated that there was "no reason to be against this technology" on the eve of the match.

The first referee to have access to the system in a competitive game was Djamel Haimoudi but the Algerian had no need to call upon GoalRef's magnetic field system in Yokohama.

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This is the first of two goal-line systems being trialed at the competition for the continental club champions, in which the title-holders of the host nation (J-League winners Sanfrecce Hiroshima on this occasion) also participate.

Hiroshima, who won the Japanese championship for the first time last month to earn their place in football history, will also take part as the second system is used, with camera-based Hawk-Eye being used for Sunday's tie with the seven-time African champions.

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"This is a kind of revolution," Valcke told FIFA's website before the match. "It is the first time that this kind of technology is coming into football. We must ensure that when the ball goes into the goal, the referee must get the information that the ball has gone in.

"The referee has the final decision. The technology won't change the speed, value or spirit of the game."

It changed little as Hiroshima saw off Auckland City, thanks to a stunning strike from Toshihiro Aoyama after 66 minutes, as the New Zealanders' impressive goalkeeper Tamati Williams was finally beaten.

However, it has added a further element to the referee's pre-match ritual with officials now needing to test the system 90 minutes before every match to determine whether the technology is working as expected.

After FIFA had seemingly abandoned GLT in 2008 after freezing experiments into the practice, and preferring instead to look at using additional referees, the issue was reborn at the 2010 World Cup.

After a Frank Lampard shot crossed the line but was not given as England lost to Germany in the Round of 16, FIFA chief Sepp Blatter backtracked on his previous belief that there was no room for goal-line technology in football.

After a long testing process, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) voted in July to use GLT at the ongoing Club World Cup, as well as the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"This is also an important day for us," Valcke had said on Wednesday. "Because we will use one of the two systems we are using here in the Fifa Confederations Cup next year."

Both Britain-based Hawk-Eye and Germany's GoalRef transmit their findings to devices that can be worn on officials' wrists.

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