FIFA surprisingly opted for GoalControl on Tuesday as its goal-line technology system to be used at next year’s World Cup in Brazil, picking the little-known German project ahead of three more established rivals such as Hawk-Eye.
GoalControl-4D uses 14 high-speed cameras placed strategically around a stadium to track a ball’s position, similar to the the Hawk-Eye system, which was predicted to win after establishing its reputation for accuracy and entertainment value in tennis and cricket.
While Hawk-Eye was at the forefront for several years during efforts to break down FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s initially stubborn resistance to high-tech help for referees, GoalControl was formed last year and licensed by soccer’s world governing body only one month ago.
All the systems met FIFA’s demand that a signal be transmitted to the referee’s watch within 1 second if a goal should be awarded.
GoalControl managing director Dirk Broichhausen said in a statement on Tuesday that Brazil is a special place for world soccer “where emotions from ghost goals are not welcome.”
After being licensed by FIFA on March 1, he told reporters that the system’s simplicity was its strength.
“Our innovation, and also a difference looking to other competitors, is that we can use standard goals, balls and nets. There is no modification necessary,” said Broichhausen, whose company is based in Wurselen, Germany, but already has an office base in Brazil.
GoalControl was the last entry in a race that began when Blatter reversed his stance after seeing FIFA’s match officials embarrassed when England midfielder Frank Lampard had a clear goal disallowed against Germany at the 2010 World Cup.
GoalControl was not even formed in 2011, when long-time World Cup sponsor Sony bought Hawk-Eye ahead of FIFA-endorsed tests, suggesting that the English project was the favorite.
Broichhausen estimated that GoalControl will cost 200,000 euros (US$260,000) per stadium to install and 3,000 euros per match to operate.
“We want to offer tournament organizers, and leagues and clubs, not to have to change anything on the pitch. The investment in the technology is enough,” he said last month.
The system will be used at six Confederations Cup stadiums this summer and at 12 stadiums at the World Cup.
FIFA performed another U-turn last month when it withdrew previous opposition to publicizing goal-line rulings.
Competition organizers can now choose whether decisions are shown to fans on big screens in stadiums and to television viewers.
Referees still have the final say on awarding a goal, or even using goal-line technology. Mandatory pre-game tests will give officials the option to switch off the system.