Saturday, 13 April 2013
The Football Association will install a system at Wembley Stadium in time for August's Community Shield. Top-flight clubs voted to adopt the system during a meeting of the 20 Premier League chairmen on Thursday. Hawk-Eye is known for providing tennis and cricket with ball-tracking technology. Its football system notifies the referee if the ball has crossed the goal line via a vibration and optical signal sent to the officials' watches within one second.
Some involved in the game hope that this is the start of a technological revolution. Off-side decisions and contentious fouls could also benefit from video analysis, something that Fifa insist will not happen. But many believe that the game has opened Pandora's box by approving systems for goal-line decisions. While English football looks set to embrace change, the Champions League will continue to live without digital help as the European football authority Uefa remains ideologically opposed to its use. And that's something that looks set to persist for as long as Michel Platini remains as its president.
After some controversial line-calls in major tennis matches, some questioned whether the technology could be used for more than just the benefit of a TV audience. The International Tennis Federation eventually approved the use of Hawk-Eye as an aid to be used by umpires, should any judgements be disputed or too close to call. Hawk-Eye was first used in a tennis tournament in 2005, making its official Wimbledon debut in 2007. Despite being praised by many, not everyone has been in favour of the technology. Most notably, 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer has said in the past that Hawk-Eye is not accurate enough and has even called for it to be scrapped. But such criticism has not hindered the technology's global success, and in 2011 the company was bought by Sony for an undisclosed sum. The firm's staff and developers are now based at Sony's European headquarters in Basingstoke, Hampshire, where the units are put together in a warehouse on site. A number of staff are also based abroad, following tennis tours and working at international stadiums. The company had a setback in early 2013, when it missed out on the contract to supply goal-line technology for the 2014 World Cup to its German rival, GoalControl. But the Premier League deal confirms Hawk-Eye as a leading player in football's greater use of technology to assist officials. The company's accounts are private, but the agreement with the Premier League is reported to be worth millions of pounds.