Goal Line Technology Makes Its Debut in International Football

    30 June, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

    Goal line technology made its debut in international football at the Confederations Cup in Brazil that ended on Sunday.  The move to goal line technology follows international pressure on the sport's governing body FIFA after a missed call in the 2010 World Cup.

    Video replays of a match clearly show that England's Frank Lampard had scored a goal against Germany. However, that goal was denied because neither the referee nor linesman saw the ball cross the goal line. The incident caused such a stir that FIFA approve the development of goal line technology. That technology was put to the test at the Confederations Cup in Brazil which began June 15.

    Bjorn Linder is the chairman of GoalControl, the German-based company that won the goal line technology contract for this year's Confederations Cup. 

    His team spend weeks in Brazil before the games as part of the FIFA certification process.

    "The whole system uses 14 cameras that are installed on the catwalk. We have seven cameras per goal and computers that are connected to those cameras. The computers are catching the images, around 500 pictures per second." 

    Computers track the path of the ball in real time and reconstruct the play.

    "Once the computer perceives the ball has crossed the goal line, it gives a signal to the referee's watch, so all the referees on the field receive the signal. It vibrates and gives an optical signal ‘goal' and he knows a goal has occurred." 

    Electronic eyes on the goal line may settle arguments, but the data is still only a reconstruction of reality.

    Nic Fleming is a London-based science and technology writer, he believes the use of goal line technology is a chance to educate people about the role of uncertainty in science.

    "These are fantastic tools, but let's be realistic about their limitations, that science is about probabilities. What better way than to have this message in a game so popular."

    GoalControl claims an accuracy of plus-or-minus 5 millimeters, this is well under FIFA's minimum requirement of plus or minus 3 centimeters.

    Nic Fleming would like to see that number flashed on the screen. He says viewers could compare the replays to the computer reconstruction and learn a little science.

    "The wider point really is that science is central to many public debates today, whether that's climate change or nuclear power or genetic modification. In all of these cases science provides probabilities. It does not provide yes-no, black-white answers, and it's quite important to the public understands that."

    Goal-line technology may become a central part of the sport, but it is important to remember that is still the referee, not the computer, that makes the final call.
    And that's the Technology Report from VOA Learning English, for more about reports, visit our website at 51voa.com. I'm June Simms.