Latecomer wins FIFA goal-line tech deal

Frank Lampard's disallowed effort against Germany at the 2010 World Cup persuaded Fifa chief Sepp Blatter to introduce GLT.

Story highlights

  • Camera-based GoalControl GmbH win tender to provide goal-line technology for FIFA
  • System will be used for 2014 World Cup if Confederations Cup trials prove successful
  • Cost of installing preferred GLT in a stadium is US$260,000

German company GoalControl GmbH has won the race to be the first provider of goal-line technology (GLT) to the FIFA World Cup -- for now.

The system will be rolled out for June's Confederations Cup in Brazil, which serves as a warm up event for the 2014 tournament.

Should the system perform adequately, GoalControl GmbH will be the official GLT provider when the World Cup heads to Brazil for the second time next year.

The technology, which uses 14 high-speed cameras (7 per goal) around the stadium, beat off competition from three other providers.

This came even though GoalControl was the last of the four to receive a FIFA license, only doing so last month.

"While all four companies had previously met the stringent technical requirements of the FIFA Quality Program," said football's world governing body in a statement, "the final decision was based on criteria relating more specifically to the tournaments in Brazil, including the company's ability to adapt to local conditions and the compatibility of each GLT system in relation to FIFA match operations."

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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"The respective bids were also judged on cost and project management factors such as staffing and time schedules for installation. The use of GoalControl-4D in Brazil is subject to a final installation test at each stadium."

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    Following a tender process that began in February and involved presentations to FIFA as well as visits to some of Brazil's leading stadiums, the companies that missed out were CAIROS, GoalRef and Hawk-Eye.

    While both CAIROS and GoalRef use magnetic fields around the goal and need to insert a chip in the ball, Hawk-Eye and GoalControl use a 3D imaging system to determine the precise location of the ball.

    The successful bidder, GoalControl, believes that one of its strengths is the fact that neither the ball nor goal structure need to be changed for the system to work -- with referees receiving a vibration and optical signal in their watches to inform them of a successful score.

    Nonetheless, it will still cost an estimated US$260,000 to install the system into a stadium while the running costs are considerably lower -- at just under US$4,000 per game.

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    GoalControl's high-speed cameras are located high in the stadium and, according to the company's website, are "connected to a powerful image processing computer system which tracks the movement of all objects on the pitch and filters out the players, referees and all disturbing objects.

    "The remaining object is the ball and the system knows its three dimensional position with a precision of a few millimeters in the coordinate system of the pitch."

    The British company Hawk-Eye aside, the three other companies bidding for the FIFA tender were all German.

    Coincidentally, it was a World Cup match between Germany and England, at the 2010 finals in South Africa, that prompted a FIFA rethink on GLT.

    FIFA president Sepp Blatter had long denied the need for such technology but he changed his mind after seeing Englishman Frank Lampard have a goal ruled out in a 4-1 loss even though the ball had clearly crossed the line.

    The theory is that such human refereeing error will be eradicated following the implementation of GLT, which was first used at December's Club World Cup in Japan.

    However, the system was never put to the test during a competition won by Corinthians of Brazil since all the goals that were scored clearly crossed the line.

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    Before every game, match officials will conduct tests to determine that the GLT system is working correctly -- with FIFA hoping to showcase GoalControl's technology prior to this year's Confederations Cup.

    While FIFA are embracing GLT, European football body UEFA are steadfastly refusing to use the new technology -- with president Michel Platini saying it is too expensive.

    The Frenchman says he would prefer the cost of installing the system in Europe's leading stadiums, which he says will cost some US$70m, to be spent on youth football.

    Meanwhile, Pierluigi Collina, the former Italian referee who now serves on UEFA's Referees Committee, has previously expressed his belief that no GLT system can ever be perfect.

    "I'm not sure that technology can be 100% perfect -- for example, my mobile phone and my computer sometimes don't work," he told CNN.

    "I would have been happy to have had two more sets of eyes in the penalty area," added Collina, effectively registering support for UEFA's system of using extra officials behind the goal-line.

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