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Features, Opinion

Can Hawk-Eye show the way?

The recent Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers in the SPL was once again at the centre of controversy, although on this occasion it was whether Lee Wallace’s goal bound header had crossed the line as Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster frantically clawed the ball away which sparked the debate and once again highlighted the need for goal line technology.

Television replays of the incident during Celtic’s 1-0 win over their arch-rivals couldn’t provide a definitive answer as to whether the ball had crossed the line or not and the officials found it difficult to make a clear cut decision based on their positions and the speed of which the incident occurred. This in turn has led to the Scottish FA calling for the authorities to bring in goal line technology as soon as possible to help keep both the integrity of the sport and that of the match officials. So what is actually is being done about it and what is the solution?

Lee Wallace's header during the Old Firm Derby has sparked much debate

Goal line technology has been talked about by various authorities within the game for a number of years following several high profile incidents and as a result FIFA have authorised an independent organisation to run trials of up to nine different methods.

The IFAB (International Football Association Board), as they are known, will assess the results of these selected methods following an initial phase of testing in March 2012 and those which are deemed successful will be invited to take part in a second phase of testing between March and June, where a final meeting in July will decide which technology will be recommended based on data produced from both of the test phases. A vote, initiated by FIFA, will then decide whether any changes of the law shall be implemented to integrate the technology. Some of the methods being tested include Adidas’ idea of sensors within the balls and goal line itself, HD camera’s embedded within the goal posts and what I think could the best possible solution – Hawk-Eye.

The key feature to Hawk-Eye is that it is accurate. Accurate to within 3mm in fact. The company, which is based in Winchester, already boast a proven product which has been utilised into both cricket and tennis with a large amount of success for almost a decade now. The concept works by using a number of high-speed camera’s located high into the arena which track the flight of the ball and using computer technology the device can work out where the ball is and track it’s trajectory which is then displayed as the graphic which those of you who follow cricket or tennis will be familiar with.

Given it’s speed and accuracy, the device already fits FIFA’s strict criteria for goal line technology and only minor tweaks to the system will make it ready for use in football. Also, seeing as Hawk-Eye already have a fully working model as opposed to a prototype that should also work in it’s favour meaning that potentially it might not be all that long until we see goal line technology finally put into practical use.

With the Premier League harbouring ambitions of integrating goal line technology into English football as early as next season, Hawk-Eye could therefore provide a realistic option to make this happen.

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