By Keith Weir
LONDON (Reuters) – A text message saying “goal” sent to the referee’s watch will end disputes over whether the ball has crossed the line in the English Premier League this season.
The Premier League will become the first domestic competition to adopt the camera-based technology when it kicks off on August 17.
Dubbed Goal Decision System (GDS) and developed by British company Hawk-Eye, the system promises to give referees a ruling within a second, their watch buzzing to tell them when a ball has gone in.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, intrigued by a demonstration of the new technology on his home pitch, supported its introduction and said speed was essential to prevent disputes.
“Is it quick enough?,” Wenger asked, setting out a scenario where there could be controversy.
“The ball goes in, comes out, there is a foul on the defender, he (the referee) gives a foul on the defender and suddenly the watch vibrates. This kind of incident could maybe happen,” he said.
“It’s still better than to have balls that go in and goals not given.”
There were 31 disputed goalline calls in the 380 Premier League matches last season and referees got them right in all but three cases, officials said.
HURST’S 1966 “GOAL”
Hawk-Eye, owned by Japanese group Sony, is familiar to British sports fans through its use in tennis and cricket.
This summer’s cricket series between England and Australia has been overshadowed by a series of arguments relating to the use of technology in the Decision Review System to help umpires make the correct calls.
Hawk-Eye’s ball-tracker is used to decide LBW appeals and has proved the least contentious part of the cricketing system.
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore was cautious over whether football should go further in using gadgetry to help referees.
“This is a factual decision that we think lends itself to the use of technology,” Scudamore told reporters.
“It’s a much more difficult debate when we start to deal with elements of subjectivity and there is subjectivity about offside in terms of active and passive.”
The Hawk-Eye technology uses seven cameras behind each goal at the 20 Premier League grounds to monitor the ball.
It will also be in operation at Wembley on Sunday when Manchester United play Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield, the annual prelude to the Premier League season.
FIFA tested a rival system developed by German company GoalControl at the Confederations Cup in Brazil in June.
A disputed goal is part of English football folklore after Geoff Hurst’s shot crashed down from the underside of the bar and was ruled to have crossed the line during England’s 4-2 World Cup final victory over West Germany in 1966.
(Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Robert Woodward)