GENEVA — FIFA surprisingly opted for GoalControl on Tuesday as its goal-line technology system ahead of next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
The German camera-based, ball-tracking system was the last of four contenders to join the race to win a FIFA contract and will first be employed at the Confederations Cup in June.
FIFA chose GoalControl-4D over three rival projects: GoalRef and Cairos, which both use magnetic sensor fields; and Hawk-Eye, another camera system which was considered the favorite. Hawk-Eye is already used in tennis and cricket, and its English parent company was bought by World Cup sponsor Sony Corp. before the system began FIFA-endorsed testing in 2011.
GoalControl was licensed by FIFA only one month ago, and owner Dirk Broichhausen told The Associated Press then that its simplicity was the key factor.
“Our innovation, and also a difference looking to other competitors, is that we can use standard goals, balls and nets. There is no modification necessary,” said Broichhausen, whose company is based in Wurselen but already established an office base in Brazil.
GoalControl uses 14 high-speed cameras — seven trained on each goalmouth — and passed FIFA-approved tests in February in German stadiums in Duesseldorf and Gelsenkirchen. All four systems met FIFA’s demand that a signal is transmitted to the referee’s watch within one second if a goal should be awarded.
“We want to offer tournament organizers and leagues and clubs not to have to change anything on the pitch. The investment in the technology is enough,” Broichhausen said
He estimated that GoalControl will cost €200,000 ($260,000) per stadium to install, and €3,000 ($3,900) per match to operate.
FIFA said the cost of installation — at six scheduled Confederations Cup stadiums and 12 for the World Cup — was considered.
“The respective bids were also judged on cost and project management factors such as staffing and time schedules for installation,” football’s governing body said in a statement.
FIFA’s contract with GoalControl for the World Cup can be reviewed if there are problems at the 16-match Confederations Cup — or even before.
“The use of GoalControl-4D in Brazil is subject to a final installation test at each stadium where the system will be installed,” FIFA said.
FIFA, through its rule-making panel known as IFAB, approved goal-line technology last July, when Hawk-Eye and the German-Danish project GoalRef passed the rigorous testing process.
Those systems were tested at the Club World Cup in Japan last December, before Cairos and GoalControl had even been licensed.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter was a longstanding opponent of high-tech help for referees, but urged using goal-line technology in Brazil after England midfielder Frank Lampard had a clear goal disallowed against Germany at the 2010 World Cup.
FIFA performed another U-turn last month when it withdrew previous opposition to publicizing goal-line rulings.
Now, competition organizers can choose whether decisions are shown to fans on big screens in stadiums and television viewers. In tennis and cricket, anticipation of a decision provided by Hawk-Eye has become part of the in-game entertainment.
“It’s not secret,” Blatter said on the sidelines of the IFAB meeting in Edinburgh. “Once we have the technology and it shows it’s a goal or not a goal, we have to be transparent, otherwise there’s no need to do it.”
Referees still have the final say on awarding a goal, or even using goal-line technology when it is installed. Mandatory pre-game tests give match officials the option to switch off the technology if they doubt its accuracy on that day.
Hawk-Eye, GoalRef and Cairos will now seek to persuade other football clients, such as the English Premier League or German’s Bundesliga, to choose their systems before next season begins in August.
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