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Hawk-Eye near agreement with FIFA over goal-line technology tests

Mon 14th Mar 2011 | IT & Technology

The final frontier for goal-line technology could be upon us – with Hawk-Eye hoping to start trials in the Barclays Premier League next season.

On March 5, FIFA decided that it would allow another year of testing for systems which, if successful, would make 'goals' that referees fail to award a thing of the past. 

It follows the uproar in last year's World Cup after millions of England fans saw a Frank Lampard shot cross the line against Germany, only for the referee to allow play to carry on.

None of the 10 companies that were invited to test for FIFA recently were able to comply with the stringent criteria for approval – that a decision must be reached within 1sec and be 100per cent accurate. 

Crucially though, Hawk-Eye, the company that has revolutionised the cricket and tennis worlds with its review system, was not involved as they needed a stadium for their tests.

But the British firm have been assured they are still part of the process and the system’s inventor Dr Paul Hawkins is confident they will be able to start testing soon.

He said: 'We will speak to FIFA over the next week or so to get the detail, but it looks positive I think. 

'Obviously we have to understand how they are going to test but I think there is a will there and hopefully we can learn from them and also advise on our experience in other sports as to the way [forward]. 

'It got as far as it could get three years ago when we had a system set up at Reading that worked in all instances.

'This plan with the Premier League is to put it into three stadia, and have it as a blind trial for six months to understand any teething problems and just to make it really a bit more mature.

'Once [FIFA] previously decided to finish testing they didn’t want to go ahead with it and there wasn’t a commercial reason for carrying on and putting it into stadia. And also they actively said that no goal-line technology is allowed to be put into stadia so we would have been breaking IFAB rules.'

But now FIFA appear to be on board with secretary general, Jerome Valcke, saying: 'The decision is, do we extend the tests, which we at FIFA are ready to do and ready to pay for? Maybe we will do the next tests in England and in a stadium. 

'If something is working then why not? [FIFA’s president] Sepp Blatter was clear to the executive committee by saying if there is a system that’s working we have to accept it.'

Although the plan is not to extend tests beyond 2012, if they are successful Blatter says the technology would be used at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil if approved in time. And with Hawk-Eye being taken over by technology giants Sony last week it is surely looking bright that the issue will be resolved. 

Hawkins, who is not sure which venues will be used in the testing yet, added: 'We can now put it into stadia – that’s my working assumption. Now they actively want to do it, but it’s not to actually be used for matches. 

'We’ll have the technology there to be used for our own purposes or be sent to an independent person in the stands so they can monitor the progress of the system. 
'Obviously we would never be able to release anything to the press, so if there was, in whichever stadium we put it in, a controversial goal then we would have to keep that to ourselves. 

'Our hope is that we can install it in an English stadium. My hope is we will be able to install, realistically it will be next football season.' 

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