Goal-line technology is a method used to determine when the ball has slightly crossed the goal line with the assistance of electronic devices and at the same time assisting the referee in awarding a goal or not. The objective of goal-line technology (GLT) is not to replace the role of the officials, but rather to support them in their decision-making. The GLT must provide a clear indication as to whether the ball has fully crossed the line, and this information will serve to assist the referee in making his final decision. In the wake of controversial calls made in the Premier League, 2010 World Cup and the Euro 2012, FIFA (previously against the technology) tested potential candidates for goal-line technology. Nine systems were initially tested, but only two remain.
On 5 July 2012, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) officially approved the use of goal line technology.
The two systems approved in principle were involved in test phase 2: GoalRef and Hawk-Eye. In December 2012, FIFA announced it would introduce goal-line technology in a competitive match for the first time at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Why was Goal Line Technology Needed?
The question of the inclusion of goal-line technology began to be raised in 2000 as a result of a penalty shootout during that year's Africa Cup of Nations final, when Victor Ikpeba's penalty for Nigeria against Cameroon was deemed by the referee not to have crossed the line after deflecting off the crossbar. To the contrary, television replays showed that it had. Cameroon went on to win the shootout and thus the Trophy of African Unity.
Interest was ignited in the United Kingdom after a game between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in January 2005, in which Tottenham midfielder Pedro Mendes hit a shot 55 yards from goal. United goalkeeper Roy Carroll caught the ball and then dropped it at least a yard over the line before hitting it back out, but neither the referee nor the linesmen saw the ball cross the line. In response to this, FIFA decided to test a system by Adidas in which a football with an embedded microchip would send a signal to the referee if it crossed a sensor going through the goal. According to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, "We did different tests at the Under-17 World Cup in Peru but the evidence wasn't clear so we will carry out trials in junior competitions in 2007". However, those trials did not materialise and by 2008, Blatter had rejected the system outright, describing the technology as 'only 95% accurate'.
Another incident occurred in August 2009 in a league match between Crystal Palace and Bristol City. Striker Freddie Sears knocked the ball over the line from close range, but the ball bounced off the stanchion below the net and then came back out. The goal was not given and Palace manager Neil Warnock was furious. In March 2010, the International Football
Association Board, which determines the laws of the game, voted 6-2 to permanently ditch the technology, with the Scotland and England football associations casting the dissenting votes. In a recent poll of 48 captains in the UEFA Europa League, 90% of respondents said that they wanted goal-line technology introduced. Following several refereeing errors at the 2010
FIFA World Cup – including the disallowed goal in Germany's 4–1 victory over England, when Frank Lampard hit a shot from outside of the penalty box that bounced off the crossbar and over the line; the ball came back out and the goal was disallowed because the assistant referee did not call for a goal – Blatter announced that FIFA would reopen the goal-line technology discussion.
Another instance of a controversial call was Chelsea’s 2–1 victory over Tottenham in 2011. Frank Lampard hit a shot just before halftime that slipped through the legs of Tottenham's goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, and almost crossed the line before being tipped back into play, however the assistant called for a goal and Chelsea equalised before going on to win. Chelsea were credited with another goal that did not cross the line against the same opponents in the 2012 FA Cup semi-finals, leading again to calls for goal-line technology.
Before Euro 2012, UEFA president Michel Platini dismissed the need for goal-line technology, instead arguing for placing additional assistant referees behind the goal. However, in a Group D match with Ukraine losing 1-0 to England, the on-field Hungarian officials, Viktor Kassai and István Vad did not see Ukraine's Marko Dević's shot briefly cross the line before it was cleared by England's John Terry.
In December 2012, FIFA announced it would introduce goal-line technology at the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. Hawk-Eye technology was employed at Toyota Stadium, while GoalRef was used at International Stadium Yokohama.
In April 2013, FIFA announced that GoalControl, a camera-based system, would be used at the 2013 Confederations Cup and, if successful, would be implemented at the 2014 FIFA World Cup (in October 2013, FIFA confirmed the use of GoalControl at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.) Its system, GoalControl-4D, uses 14 high-speed cameras located around the pitch and directed at both goals. Later in April the Football Association announced that Hawk-Eye would be used in the 2013–14 Premier League season. On 16 December 2013, it was announced that Hawk-Eye would be used in three of the four quarter-finals and any subsequent matches in the League Cup. The system was used when, on the very next day, the Sunderland – Chelsea quarter-final goal from Frank Lampard was allowed. The first goal to be decisively awarded using goal-line technology in the English Premier League was Edin Džeko's goal for Manchester City against Cardiff City on 18 January 2014.
The first World Cup tournament to use goal-line technology was the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In a June 15, 2014 group stage match between France and Honduras, the Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares dropped a shot from Karim Benzema into the goal for the first World Cup goal given by the technology.
The Goal Line Technology system once installed must pass a "Final Installation Test (FIT)" before it can be used in a match situation. The FIT comprises similar tests to the Second phase of testing that new systems must undertake but further attempts to account for the dynamic conditions that each particular geographical area, stadium design, humidity, lighting and many other factors will have on the system. Once a system has been tested and passed by an accredited Goal Line technology Laboratory, and registered with FIFA the system, it can then be used for all official matches.
In 2013 FIFA accredited Sports Labs Ltd, a Scottish-based laboratory, to carry out Final Installation Tests on Goal Line Technology installations globally. Sports Labs have been accredited to test artificial turf for FIFA as a field testing laboratory and under laboratory conditions for 7 years, and now hold a license to test Goal Line Technology for FIFA.