Friday, October 8, 2010

Goal line technology in soccer.

Content Pages
The topic that I have chosen to discuss in my research paper is the emergence of the use of video technology in sports in recent years. During our lifetimes, information and computer technologies have significantly changed the world. The major technological revolution has had a very profound effect on contemporary sports over the last twenty years (Reilly, 2006). Therefore, the use of different types of technology has become important in recent years due to the fact that sports contain moments in which there are mistakes made by referees and officials. The introduction of technology regarding these sports in recent years has helped to eradicate a number of these errors. The specific type of technology that is going to be discussed in this research paper is the use of video technology in relation to the potential introduction of goal line technology in soccer.
The majority of sports today use video technology of some description. However, like everything in this world there are always exceptions. Some sports, like soccer for example, refuse to introduce the use of video technology. Soccer is one of the most popular team sports in the world. “As a consequence of this popularity, soccer video analysis has attracted much research in the last decade” (D’Orazio and Leo, 2010).
Nonetheless, many controversial issues have arisen in recent years as to whether video technology should be introduced into soccer or not. Different companies have designed new programs in order to attempt elimination of certain errors made by officials with regards to the game. This may include anything as simple as tracking a player offside to decide whether or not the ball has crossed the goal line in order for a goal to be awarded or not. The bulk of these new developments have occurred in the area of goal line technology. Both the Hawk eye system and Cairos have been proposed in recent times in order to determine if the ball has crossed the goal line or not.
The use of goal line technology in soccer was first questioned after the 1966 World Cup Final. “During the final, with eleven minutes gone in extra time, Alan Ball crossed to George Hurst whose subsequent shot cannoned off the underside of the goal and down either just on or over the goal line. The goal was controversially allowed, and its validity is still questioned to this day” (Kapadia and Chimalapati, p1).
More recently, the use of both video and goal line technology has been questioned. During the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup in November 2009, Frances Thierry Henry illegally used his hand in order to control the ball. Frances consequently scored and won the game and hence went to the World Cup. Ireland was left at home. Also the World Cup Finals in South Africa in 2010 brought this controversial issue to light once more. In the quarter finals England scored a perfectly legitimate goal. Conversely, the officials stated that the ball had not crossed the line and the goal wasn’t given. According to television replays, it was evident that the ball had indeed crossed the line.
Use of the Technology
Some of the main sports that use video technology include rugby, tennis and cricket. In soccer which is the sport that I am focusing on for the purposes of my paper the referees use devices in order to be able to communicate with one another on the field even if they are 50 yards apart. Also the assistant referees have a button on their flags that causes a vibration on the official referee's arm when pressed. This is another way in which the assistant referees can catch the attention of the referee if there is a problem on the field. This is another technological advance in recent decades.
The Hawk-Eye system is a computer system that essentially tracks the path of the ball in sports like tennis and cricket. According to a letter wrote from the managing director of the Hawk-eye company addressed to the president of FIFA, the Hawk-eye technology “provides an immediate beep in the referee’s earpiece within 0.5 seconds of the ball crossing the line” (Hawkins, 2009). The proposal involves the placing of six cameras in the stands at each end of the field. The total cost of this technology is believed to amount to £250,000. According to Paul Hawkins, the inventor of the system, the ball needs to be at least 25 percent visible to be foolproof ” in order for the technology to perform efficiently (Dickinson, 2007).
Balls in both soccer and American football have been prototyped with GPS and Computer chips inside as a way to help the referees make better calls but the high-tech balls have yet to be incorporated into either sport. Cairos is a method proposed in which a chip is inserted inside the ball that helps to track the position of the soccer ball in real time and use that information to decide whether the entire ball has passed the line (Kapadia and Chimalapati). “The system consists of thin cables installed underneath the penalty area and behind the goal line.” There are sensors in the ball which measure the “magnetic fields and transmit data about the ball's location to receivers placed off the pitch which then forwards data to a central computer. The computer determines when the ball has crossed the goal line and transmits a radio signal to the referee, who wears a special watch, when a goal has been scored” (Cairos Technologies AG).

Advantages of the Technology
The obvious advantages of the technology would be that these human errors that referees and officials make during games could be diminished simply with the introduction of some form of technology (Kapadia and Chimalapati). It would mean that players, managers and fans alike would all see the correct calls being made during games.
The same principle can be applied for the use of goal line technology. If a goal is scored, it is only right that it should be recorded. Henceforth, there are many advantages.
Limitations of the Technology
The President of FIFA (Federation of International Football Associations) argues that it would remove the nature of human judgment in a negative way. Also FIFA has raised a number of other issues about goal line technology, saying “the system is not accurate enough, is too expensive and would affect the universality of the game, in that World Cup matches would not have the same rules as a Sunday League game in Bradford” (Emery, 2010).
The Hawk-Eye system has been critiqued and the main claim that people are making is that the margin of error is too large for it to be accurate and also that it would slow the game down too much. It is believed then that if this occurred then it would have a negative effect on the sport of soccer in itself. However, as is stated in the official letter to Mr. Sepp Blatter, this does not appear to be the case. The letter states that “within 0.5 seconds of the ball crossing the line the referee would be alerted.” (Hawkins, 2009)
Further Required Research
Although there has been a much heated debate in recent times about the introduction of goal line technology in soccer, it is evident that there is still further research to be carried out. The use of such techniques as Hawk eye and Cairos in order to determine whether the ball has crossed the line or not is still hotly debated in today’s sporting world.  Even though FIFA rejected the use of technology prior to the 2010 World Cup it did say afterwards that it would look into the matter again in its meeting in October 2010. The following video addresses the goal line technology issue and Mr Blatter clearly states that “if the system is accurate and simple then we will implement it” (The Telegraph TV, 2010). Many people think that it is just a matter of time before this type of technology is brought about.
Overall if the use of this technology is indeed proven to assist the referees and officials in a positive way then it should be seriously considered. After all, any technology which can help the referees and officials in today’s game decide whether the ball has crossed the line or not is beneficial for the game.
Reference Page
1.Dickinson, M. (2007, August 17). Hawk-eye set to extend its influence to contested goals. The Sunday Times. Retrieved September 30, 2010 from the World Wide Web:
This was a good reference as it explained the different issues that are being debated at the moment with regards to Hawk-Eye technology.
2.Kapadia, A., and Chimalapati, S. Ball and Player Tracking in Sports. Retrieved: September 29, 2010 from the World Wide Web:
This was also another very useful reference as it went into vast amounts of detail on the different types of goal line technology, some of which are discussed in the paper.
3.Hawkins, P. (2009, September 22). Open Letter. Hawk-eye innovations. Retrieved September 30, 2010 from the World Wide Web:
I found that this was a very interesting source as it was a letter straight from the Hawk-Eye innovations Ltd. Managing director stating the positives of introducing this technology.
4.      D’Orazio, T., and Leo, M. (2010). A review of vision-based systems for soccer video analysis. Pattern Recognition, 43(2010) 2911-2926.
This was also a very useful source to gain a broad overview of knowledge regarding the use and purposes of goal line technology.
5.      Reilly, T., Williams, M.A., and Carling, C. (2006) New York: Routledge.
This book gave useful information on the use of video technology in general. I found it useful in order to introduce myself to the topic of video technology in broad terms.
6.      The Telegraph TV (2010, August 11) Sepp Blatter: goal-line technology on FIFA’s agenda. The Telegraph. Retrieved September 28, 2010 from the World Wide Web:
This reference was an interview by Sepp Blatter explaining that goal line technology would be discussed again at FIFA’s next meeting.
7.      Emery, D. (2010, June 28) Goal-line technology firms dispute FIFA claims. BBC News. Retrieved September 30, 2010 from the World Wide Web:
This reference was a newspaper article which I also found interesting as it gave relevant information pertaining to the use of goal line technology.
8.      Cairos Technologies AG. Retrieved October 1, 2010 from the World Wide Web:
I found this website a really good source of information as it is the company’s website. It showed how the technology worked specifically and this was really beneficial to me.
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