When the Premier League 2013/14 season kicks off this weekend, every ground will be using Hawk-Eye’s specially developed goal-line technology. The aim is to clear up once and for all whether the ball has crossed the line. So, how does it work? And will other leagues and competitions be using it?
The system being used by the FA and Premier League is made by Hawk-Eye. This Sony–owned company already has a history when it comes to tech in sport. It’s been used as part of the Umpire Decision Review System in cricket since 2008, while its tennis system has been a mainstay on the WTA and ATP tours since 2006. It’s also been used in snooker, Gaelic games and Aussie rules.
This football version has been tested extensively and was used in low key matches throughout 2012, before gaining Premier League approval earlier this year.
Hawk-Eye utilises 14 cameras, seven trained on each goal and positioned throughout the stadium, usually high in the roof. Each of these cameras tracks the ball’s movement, with the system able to detect of it’s crossed the goal-line even if only a small part of it is visible.
In case of a full-on goalmouth scramble, with legs flailing and bodies piling up, the system can trigger a goal if only two of the seven cameras can see the ball. However, it will always use as many cameras as possible to determine whether it’s a goal or not.
Referees will be kitted out with a specially designed watch, built by Hawk-Eye and stadium communications supremoes Adeunis. Within a second of the ball crossing the line, the ref will see ‘Goal’ flash up on his wrist and he’ll award it accordingly.
What’s more, match-goers and TV viewers will be able to see replays of the incident and the complete Hawk-Eye data. This is a big move for Premier League grounds, which never replay controversial moments such as dodgy offside decisions and blatant dives, for fear of giving fans more to berate officials with. Imagine what they do at Lord’s and Wimbledon and you get the picture.
Just like cricket and tennis, Hawk-Eye claims its football system is inch-perfect. Millimetre perfect, in fact. It says that this millimetre accuracy ‘ensures that no broadcast replays could disprove [a] decision’.
That’s an impressively bold claim, but one which backs up its assertion that goal-line rows will be a thing of the past from this season onwards. Expect the chaps on Sky’s Monday Night Football to be analysing every single angle as soon as one of these incident’s occurs at a Premier League ground.
At the moment, only Premier League grounds and Wembley have goal-line tech installed, with Hawk-Eye on a five-year contract to install and maintain its tech.
That means that lower leagues will miss out on the tech for now, a shame seeing as The Championship is one of Europe’s most-watched and exciting leagues. In Scotland too, the SPL won’t be using goal-line tech for the foreseeable future.
None of the leagues in Spain, Italy or Germany will be using goal-line tech this season. What’s more, Champions League fixtures will also be bereft of technology, meaning that elite teams could benefit from Hawk-Eye at home, but see goals disallowed while playing in Europe.
Instead, UEFA is sticking with its policy of having two extra goal-line officials in Europa League and Champions League matches. Its head, Michel Platini, is against technology being used in football.
-line tech will be used in the 2014 World Cup. FIFA has come round to the idea, based largely on Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal during England’s second-round battering at the hands of Germany in 2010.
However, it won’t be using Hawk-Eye’s system. Instead, the world governing body has opted for a system built by German company, GoalControl. Either way, the aim is to prevent these kind of incidents dominating the discussion at Sepp Blatter and co’s four-yearly money spinner.