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Goal-line technology on the way in?

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Football’s law maker the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has agreed to reconsider the introduction of goal-line technology. However, IFAB has stated that any decision on whether a ball has crossed the line must be able to be made within one second – a policy which rules out video replays.

It’s clear too that most fans now back goal-line technology. After the World Cup and Frank Lampard’s ghost goal three out of every four backed it in an FSF poll. The FSF believes IFAB should introduce goal-line technology; the game is so fast moving nowadays that such systems can only be of benefit to referees.

Companies must put forward their ideas to IFAB by the end of November for a period of testing which will run until March 2011. This coincides with the next IFAB meeting on 5th March when the technology will be reviewed and possible implementation timelines discussed.

“The indication of whether a goal has been scored must be immediate and automatically confirmed within one second,” said a statement from IFAB.  “The technology would apply solely to the goal-line, and only to determine whether a goal has been scored or not. The indication of whether a goal has been scored will only be communicated to the match officials.”

While it’s common to hear commentators and pundits pontificate on rule changes and blithely state that FIFA or Sepp Blatter should change the rules the situation is a little more complicated than that. IFAB is the only body which has the power to change the laws of football – FIFA cannot do so unilaterally.

IFAB is made up of five members and the UK’s numerous FAs have a very powerful say in the matters. The national FAs of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all sit on IFAB and have one vote each. The fifth member is the world game’s governing body FIFA which has four votes.

Any proposal to change the game’s laws requires six votes to be passed and this leaves a very clever and delicate balance of power. As FIFA has four votes, no law can be passed without their approval. However, they also require the support of at least two of the UK’s four FAs in order to implement any laws. The UK’s FAs hold four votes in total and thus cannot pass any laws without FIFA’s approval.

This is not the first time such proposals have been considered. In 2008 FIFA decided the Hawk-Eye system – as used in cricket and tennis – was not suitable for football. A microchip inserted into a football was also experimented with although this was found to be too complicated and inaccurate.

If the coming tests bring to light a system which is, on this occasion, both quick and accurate goal-line technology could be in place as soon as July 2011.

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