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Provider of FIFA goal line tech chosen, tracks ball in space and time

Strangely a German firm, not one in Qatar

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Football governing body FIFA has selected goal-line technology from German firm GoalControl as its preferred option in trials ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

The GoalControl-4D system features 14 high-speed cameras around a football pitch focused on both goal mouths to help match officials determine whether or not the ball has crossed the goal-line.

The ball’s position is continuously and automatically captured in three dimensions when it is close to the goal, GoalControl explains. If the ball has passed the goal line, the system's CPU sends an encrypted radio signal to the referee’s watch in less than one second.

GoalControl offers the possibility of providing replays as well as the ability to be installed within existing goal frames and nets, without needing hi-tech additions to the match balls themselves.

The technology will be put through its paces at the upcoming Confederations Cup in Brazil. If trials progress as planned the technology will be deployed at next year's eagerly anticipated tournament.

GoalControl (which sounds like US commentator-speak for a goalkeeper) was picked ahead of three other FIFA-licensed technology providers, including British firm Hawkeye. So yet again the English have lost a football shoot-out against the Germans.

In a statement about the GoalControl system, FIFA said:

While all four companies had previously met the stringent technical requirements of the FIFA quality programme, 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 [goal line technology] system in relation to FIFA match operations.

The respective bids were also judged on cost and project management factors such as staffing and time schedules for installation."

FIFA said its selection of GoalControl followed a "comprehensive tender process" that began in February and involved bid presentations in Zurich as well as site inspections in Brazil. The use of GoalControl-4D in Brazil is "subject to a final installation test at each stadium where the system will be installed".

Unlike other sports governing bodies, FIFA has consistently opposed the use of technology to help officials to decide marginal calls. Goal line technology was first used in a FIFA-run tournament during the Club World Cup in Japan last December, when two forms of the technology were deployed, including Hawkeye.

This followed the decision by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to allow the use of GLT in the beautiful game in July 2012, years after the equivalent bodies in tennis, cricket and other team sports allowed the introduction of comparable technologies.

This was the key decision and will allow the introduction of goal line technology by the Premier League, La Liga and in other top competitions, perhaps before next year's World Cup. The selection of GoalControl by FIFA for the World Cup itself is influential, if not binding.

FIFA's top suits, most notably Sepp Blatter, have consistently dragged their heels about introducing either GLT or video replays despite numerous poor decisions in high profile matches over the years that were easily apparent to TV audiences. The solution has always been to draft in more officials on the pitch instead of adopting a tech-based solution.

Introducing technology was resisted partly by claiming that the lower levels of the game couldn't afford it, and that this would lead to the non-uniform application of the rules of the game. Luddites also claimed that existing technology was not accurate enough, at least until recently, and that using technology would slow down the game.

Controversy over the issue intensified following a disallowed goal by Frank Lampard in Germany's 4–1 victory over England in the knock-out stages of the 2010 World Cup, but the issue has been bubbling up for years. It's been a talking point in England since Tottenham midfielder Pedro Mendes scored a disallowed goal against Manchester United from 50 yards out that crossed the line by at least a yard during a match in January 2005.

Amazingly, neither the referee nor the linesmen saw the ball cross the line. ®

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