The art behind football’s goal line technology

Football is a sport of intelligence, muscle, agility, and coordination. The combination of all four can make you a good footballer and a combination of all those four qualities when instilled in a team of good footballers, you get the best teams in the world. Football actually needs no introduction and if you are from the US then I am talking about soccer. Football is the most popular sport on planet earth, period. It is something which is pure and filled with passion.

It was one of those sports which was not tweaked because of technology since its inception. However, as the game became popular and faster with fitter attackers, gritty defenders, and agile goalkeepers, it became that much harder for the aging referees to referee the game. Now the most common things the referees had problems noticing were the offside traps, penalty appeals, and most importantly the ball crossing line.

The governing body of football, FIFA, was needed to re-visit their decision of not considering the use of Goal Line Technology in 2010. This was when Frank Lampard, the England international clearly scored a goal but was not given because the referee couldn’t see. England was playing against Germany and the game was a world cup quarter-final. The goal that was not given could have been pivotal in England’s world cup history. However, there was another incident in 1966 when England was the beneficiary. The same teams were playing and it was the world cup final. If the referee had seen the ball clearly not crossing the line, we could have England of today without a world cup.

That said, Goal Line Technology was important for the game to have fair play and it was important for the new technology to assist the referees. The speed of the game was increased and it was not possible for the human eyes to catch the ball’s exact location at the speed of today’s game. So FIFA decided to consider Goal Line Technology. That said, there were only two possible solutions and technologies that were available; Hawk-eye and Goalref.

The two technologies are very different from each other. The Hawk-eye, which is used in cricket and tennis, requires seven cameras specifically placed in certain areas of the stadium. Those seven cameras would track the ball for the entirety of 90 minutes and especially when the ball is near the goal. The cameras specific positions will help identify if the ball crossed the line or not. The ball tracking system is very much evolved over the years since it was introduced in the late 1990s.

However, there was a problem with the system or a drawback that to track and give a verified decision, Hawk-eye needed to see at least a quarter of the ball. That said, between so many legs and the hustle bustle on the field, it would be impossible to keep the ball visible. And hence Goalref came into existence.

Goalref does not need special cameras but the whole goalmouth is turned into an electromagnetic field. The ball is inserted with an electronic circuit that is between the leather and the inflatable center. The electromagnetic strength of the field is monitored by a computer. Now if the ball crosses the line there is a change in the strength of the electromagnetic field. This indicates whether the ball is in or not. The result of the same is then transmitted to the special watch the referees are wearing.

Nowadays, the Goal Line Technology comprises of an amalgamation of Hawk-eye and Goalref. Both the systems work hand in hand and have kind of changed football without changing it at all.

-Unmesh Phule



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