Belfast Telegraph

Goal decision system unveiled

Football's leaders insist that the goal-line technology system unveiled for the Premier League and Wembley Stadium will not suffer from the same controversy that has afflicted cricket's Decision Review System (DRS).

The Hawkeye system uses 14 cameras and will send a signal within the space of a second to the referee's watch and ear-piece indicating that the ball has crossed the line.

The first use of the system will take place at the Community Shield match between Manchester United and Wigan at Wembley on Sunday, and will also be used at all 20 Premier League grounds.

FA general secretary Alex Horne hailed the introduction of the technology as one of the most important developments in the 150 years since football rules were laid down - and said it would not suffer from the same problems as cricket.

Speaking at the system's launch at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium, he said: "One of the delays in bringing it in has been stress-testing this equipment to destruction effectively.

"There are some distinctions [to cricket]. Some of the technology you are talking about there is predictive technology. So with lbw decisions it's 'where would a ball have travelled?'.

"There is an inevitable element of subjectivity there. This is binary - has this crossed the line or not. It's historic and it's factual so I think we have got some advantages there."

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said there were 31 occasions last season where the system would have been helpful - three of those ended up with incorrect decisions.

He added: "It's a very exciting development in world football. It is a goal decision system - it is no longer just goal-line technology."

The main opposition to goal-line technology has come from UEFA president Michel Platini who fears it will lead to other developments such as a video referee to judge on offside calls and fouls.

There may be grounds to such fears. Hawkeye is - with FIFA's blessing it says - conducting a two-year pilot project in the Dutch top flight seeing if high-speed technology could help a video referee send almost instant messages to the officials on the pitch.

Hawkeye's inventor Paul Hawkins said: "This is a blind trial, nothing to do with the actual match, and this actually has FIFA blessing to gather information.

"It will be a video referee and over the two years they will gather data as to what kind of decisions can be made in what kind of time. The key element is clearly how quickly a decision can be made so this is pilot to answer that question."

But Horne, who sits on the game's law-making body the International FA Board (IFAB) said he would take some convincing to go beyond goal-line technology.

He added: "The thin end of the wedge argument has been one of the biggest political hurdles.

"I think we need to be very careful about what other decisions we think it is appropriate for. I don't want to undermine the referees and you can reach a position in other sports where referees are reliant on technology and their roles are a little bit confused.

"Offside decisions can be quite subjective.

"I am sure with the advancements in technology there will be something out there. Paul Hawkins has told me he thinks he can do it, but I will take some convincing that it's right for the game and for referees.

"I also know how hard it has been to get to this point with FIFA and IFAB so I wouldn't hold my breath."

Scudamore agreed, adding: "It's a much more difficult discussion when you start to deal with elements of subjectivity. And there is subjectivity about offside in terms of passive, active."

The Hawkeye system uses 14 cameras and will send a signal with the space of a second to the referee's watch - it beeps and vibrates - and there will also be a message to the ear-pieces worn by all match officials saying: "Goal, goal, goal."

Replays of goal-line decisions, taken using a high-speed camera, will be passed to broadcasters and also shown on big screens in stadiums.

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