Little known football teams Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Auckland City made history on Thursday after their Club World Cup match was the first ever official fixture to feature goal line technology.
The game saw the use of GoalRef, a radio-based system developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits which works by creating two low-frequency magnetic fields – one in the goal area and the other around the ball.
Coils attached to the goal then monitor the interaction between the magnetic field induced in the goal area and that created around the ball, which is fitted with a passive electronic circuit, according to the Institute.
The resulting data is apparently processed in realtime by the system and sent wirelessly to the referee’s watch.
Yesterday’s match apparently yielded few opportunities to test the system, but it will go head-to-head against English rival Hawk-Eye in succeeding matches in the tournament before FIFA decides which to choose for the Confederations Cup in Brazil next year and, in all likelihood, the World Cup there in 2014.
Hawk-Eye is more of a known quantity, having been used extensively in cricket and tennis matches.
It works by triangulating the visual images generated by numerous high speed cameras placed around the field of play. It can also be set to notify the referee in near real-time whether a ball has crossed the line by sending a message to his watch, according to Reuters.
The decision to introduce the technology comes a whole two years after an infamous disallowed goal by England’s Frank Lampard against Germany in the last World Cup. Despite landing fully across the line it was mysteriously not spotted by either linesman or referee – prompting gratuitous “we was robbed” outbursts from the English diaspora all over the world.
FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, who successfully derailed England’s bid to host the World Cup in 2018, has resisted goal line technology for years but even he found it hard not to step into the 21st century after that incident.
"What happened at the World Cup in 2010 cannot happen again," FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke told reporters ahead of Thursday’s historic game.
"The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. The ball was not two centimetres in the goal - it was clearly in.” ®