Technology in football moves closer
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The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has given its go-ahead for further evaluation of two goal line technology systems and revealed that the technology could be introduced to football as early as next season.

The Board, which comprises representatives from FIFA and from the four UK-based football associations, met today, 3 March 2012, for its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Surrey, England.

At the meeting, independent test institute EMPA revealed that two of the eight companies involved in November and December’s first phase of testing, Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, had met the criteria set out by the Board. Hawk-Eye’s system uses optical recognition with cameras, whilst GoalRef utilises a magnetic field with a special ball to identify goals.

We absolutely expect that, provided the companies fulfill the criteria, we will be passing the use of the systems into the laws on 2 July in Kiev.
FA Chief Executive Alex Horne on goal line technology

The accuracy and robustness of these two systems will be assessed in a second phase of testing between March and July before a final decision on their approval is made at the Board’s Special Meeting in Kiev on 2 July, following the UEFA EURO 2012 final.

“It’s an important step forwards for us, but it’s equally important that we implement it properly,” said The FA’s Chief Executive Alex Horne. “It must be accurate or it’s not worth having, but we’re very comfortable that the technology is proving itself.”

“We absolutely expect that, provided the companies fulfill the criteria, we will be passing the use of the systems into the laws on 2 July in Kiev,” he added.

The introduction of the technology appeared to be popular with all the members. “We’ve been very supportive of goal line technology for some time if it is proven to be effective,” said the Scottish Football Association’s Chief Executive Stewart Regan. “The presentation by EMPA was excellent and we’re delighted to see two companies go forward.”

Unanimous verdict on headscarves
While the meeting brought good news for advocates of technology in football, it also represented a victory for those seeking to facilitate women’s access to football across the globe. Jordan’s HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, made an impassioned plea to the Board to allow the wearing of headscarves by female players.

The IFAB unanimously agreed to the proposal in principle, pending an accelerated review of health and safety issues. A final endorsement of this proposal will also be made at the Board’s Special Meeting in July.

“Prince Ali gave a perfect presentation,” said FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke. “He explained how important the issue was in his region. It was important that we had chance to hear what he had to say and the Board’s decision was unanimous. If women cannot play because of headscarves then we at FIFA are very happy to authorise them so women around world have access to football.”

I am delighted that the decision is a unanimous one,” said Prince Ali, adding that he was “very confident that the issue will be ratified in July.”

In other business, the IFAB granted its approval for the amendment of the law concerning the location of upright advertising, and also permitted football associations around the world to use vanishing spray to help ward against players encroaching too far forward when defending free-kicks. The Board also offered the four UK associations the option of carrying out a two-year experiment regarding modifications to the number of substitutions allowed in amateur football.

The IFAB also amended a law on players’ equipment to the effect that tape must be the same colour as the socks it is applied to, and set out the action to be taken by match officials if the ball is kicked directly into the goal from an ‘uncontested’ dropped ball.

However, FIFA agreed to withdraw the proposed amendment to the law relating to a fourth substitution being used during extra time, while the proposal regarding fouls and misconduct, the so-called “triple punishment”, will be reviewed further.

Meanwhile, the Additional Assistant Referees (AAR) experiment, which is ongoing in several competitions around the world, including the UEFA Champions League, will continue. A final report will be made at July’s Special Meeting in order that a definitive decision on the future of AAR can also be made.

The decisions concerning the Laws of the Game taken today by the IFAB will come into effect – taking into consideration UEFA EURO 2012 - on 1 June 2012.