Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke hailed “a kind of revolution” as the football world prepared for today’s introduction of goal-line technology.
The governing body was staunchly against the use of any form of technology for many years but the winds changed in the wake of the 2010 World Cup, where England were denied a clear goal against Germany despite Frank Lampard’s shot clearly crossing the line.
Since then the journey has been a relatively rapid one and Fifa will try out two systems — UK-based Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, from Germany — at the Club World Cup in Japan, starting with today’s match between Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Auckland City.
“It’s a big day,” Valcke said on fifa.com.
“Today will be the first time that goal-line technology will be officially used in a game. The tests are done; and the instillation tests were successful.
“This is also an important day for us, because we will use one of the two systems we are using here in the Fifa Confederations Cup next year.”
He added: “This is a kind of revolution. It is the first time that this kind of technology is coming into football.
“It will be restricted to the goal-line specifically. The IFAB [International Football Association Board] is there to ensure the 17 laws of the game are protected.
“It was their decision, and they were clear, to say that the technology is limited to the goal-line.
“We must ensure that when the ball goes into the goal, the referee must get the information that the ball has gone in. The referee has the final decision.
“The technology won’t change the speed, value or spirit of the game.
“There is no reason to be against this technology.”
The Hawk-Eye system is the same as that used in cricket and tennis, which relies on a series of seven cameras to create a 3D picture of each goal, while GoalRef uses electro-magnetic sensors.
Valcke also said he had full confidence there would be no errors from the technology.
“It needs to be the most accurate system we can have at the moment,” he said. “There can be no mistakes with this and that is why the IFAB took two years to make sure the system was perfect.”
Hawk-Eye managing director Steve Carter referred to John Terry’s goal-line clearance in England’s 1-0 win over Ukraine at Euro 2012 as an example of the precision required to get decisions right.
“If you look at the John Terry incident, we measured it using the TV footage, the ball was actually 25 millimetres over the line,” he said.
“That is well within the accuracy of our system — two, three, four millimetres of accuracy in that scenario. Football needs that level.”
Fifa had resisted pressure for technology, successfully used in other sports including cricket, tennis, rugby and American football, for years.
But Lampard’s ‘goal’ for England against Germany in South Africa, not seen by either the referee or linesman, prompted Fifa to finally turn to science.
“What happened at the World Cup in 2010 cannot happen again,” Valcke told reporters yesterday.
“The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. The ball was not two centimetres in the goal — it was clearly in.
“Millions of people see that and wonder how the referee didn’t see it. That’s the decision we made after the 2010 World Cup.”
After analysing data taken from the Club World Cup, Fifa will choose which system to implement at the six Brazilian venues being used for the Confederations Cup by the end of March.
Those chosen will remain in place for the 2014 World Cup, although the six other venues could potentially end up with a different system.
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