Goal-Line Technology It's a Goal! Or Is It?

European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, has decided to introduce video technology to settle disputes over whether a ball has crossed the goal-line in major tournaments. A German supplier, Goal-Control, is among the top bidders.
Did England score an equalizer against Germany at the World Cup in 2010? Englishmen didn't need goal-line technology to tell you the answer.


The disallowed goal by English midfielder Frank Lampard in the World Cup 2010 quarter-final against Germany is arguably the most famous recent example of how goal-line technology would have changed a game.

Trailing 2-1 and approaching half-time, English fans were euphoric after they saw Mr. Lampard’s shot clip the crossbar before bouncing in – and back out – of the goal. German goalie Manuel Neuer quickly grabbed the ball and kicked it up-field.

The linesman didn’t give England what would have been an equalizer, and Germany went on to win 4-1.

It was a major blunder by the referee that led to major uproar among English fans – and a flood of jokes on the Internet, with one photo montage showing the goal line moved back a few feet to keep the ball in play.

Sepp Blatter, at the time president of FIFA, soccer's world governing body, subsequently called on national soccer leagues around the globe to consider using goal-line technology, which employs high-speed video cameras to track the ball.

The German company may have a slight advantage over its English rival for the European tournaments this summer.

Even though the use of goal-line technology has been controversial, it has proven to be far less so than Mr. Blatter, who was forced last year to step down as FIFA president amid a string of scandals. It is now poised to become a mainstay not only in soccer tournaments, but also national leagues around the world.

UEFA will allow the technology to be used for the final of the EURO 2016 tournament in France and the 2016-17 Champions League from the playoffs onwards. The system will work alongside assistant referees who will continue to monitor all activity around the penalty area.

Two systems are the major competitors for the 2016 tournament: Britain’s Hawk-Eye system and Germany’s Goal-Control.

Hawk-Eye is already used in a number of sports, including rugby and tennis, and has monitored England’s Premier League games since the 2013-14 season. Earlier this year, Germany’s Bundesliga selected the technology for its 2015-16 season, and the Italian and Spanish leagues have been testing it.

Quelle: dpa
The referee's missed call led to flood of jokes on the Internet.
(Source: dpa)


The system uses 14 cameras, seven at each goal, to triangulate and track the position of the ball, even if one camera is blocked by a player. It was developed in 1999 for cricket by Paul Hawkins and engineers at Roke Manor Research, at the time a Siemens subsidiary.

Since 2011, Hawk-Eye has been owned by Japanese consumer electronics and entertainment company Sony, which is also a major sponsor of UEFA tournaments.

Goal-Control is supplied by the company of the same name in Würselen near Aachen. The technology works much the same as Hawk-Eye to track the flight of the ball and detect whether or not it has crossed the goal line. FIFA selected the technology for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

But the German company may have a slight advantage over its English rival for the European tournaments this summer. Goal-Control is already deployed in 20 French stadiums, including the 10 stadiums at EURO 2016, followng a deal the company clinched with the country’s Ligue 1.

“The French have confirmed that we have a very attractive offer in total,” Dirk Broichhausen, the managing director of Goal-Control, told Handelsblatt.

German engineers were involved in another goal-scoring technology, which appears to have found little traction in the global soccer community.

Sports gear manufacturer Adidas collaborated with German software company Cairos Technologies and the Fraunhofer Institute, a government-funded research organization, to develop a chip-enabled soccer ball. The technology is based on a chip with an integrated transmitter to send data. The chip is suspended in the middle of the ball to survive acceleration and hard kicks.

But many testing the ball-based system found it too technically challenging to implement and susceptible to error.

In the coming weeks, UEFA expects to announce its choice of supplier for the multi-million euro contract, which could open deals with other leagues in Europe and worldwide.


John Blau is a senior editor with Handelsblatt Global Edition. Markus Hennes is a reporter for Handelsblatt in Düsseldorf. To contact the authors: [email protected] and [email protected]