New smart ball gets Japan test

An all new chip-in-ball goal-line technology is to be tested at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2007, kicking off in Tokyo in around three weeks time, as confirmed at a competition preview press conference in the Japanese capital on Friday.

The technology, jointly developed by adidas and Cairos Technologies AG, transmits a signal in real time to the referee's watch, alerting the official as to whether the ball, which contains a microchip, has crossed the line or not. The system to be tested at the competition is based on a completely new technology and is far more precise and robust than the radio-signal based system tested in 2005 at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.

Dr. Viacheslav Koloskov, chairman of the Organising Committee for the FIFA Club World Cup, confirmed the FIFA Executive Committee's decision to go forward with the tests at the press conference at the Japan Football Museum. Also present were the President and vice-president of the Japan Football Association (JFA), representatives from adidas and Cairos, and players and officials from Urawa Red Diamonds. The Urawa outfit are set to be the first Japanese club to appear in the tournament after sealing the AFC Champions League title on Wednesday 14 November.

"The technology meets all the requirements set by the International Football Association Board (IFAB)," said Gunter Pfau, the Head of FIFA & UEFA Affairs at adidas. "The IFAB requires that a goal-line technology system determines whether or not the ball has crossed has the line with 100 per cent accuracy and transmits the signal instantaneously to the referee alone."

"This improved system won't be influenced by players or the weather," added Christian Holzer from Cairos. "It is made up of more robust components and meets the precision requirements of the IFAB."

A full technical briefing and demonstration of how the new goal-line technology works will be conducted for the media in one of the FIFA Club World Cup venues just prior the start of the tournament. An analysis of the test results will then be presented to the IFAB at its Annual General Meeting in Scotland in March 2008 for review and future consideration.

Japanese club to make debut
The ten-day tournament now has a new format that will enable the J. League champions to take part in the elite event. However, Urawa's 3-1 aggregate victory over Iranian side Sepahan on Wednesday saw the Reds take the slot available for the Asian champions, with Sepahan occupying the berth originally set aside for the Japanese title holders.

"I would like to congratulate Urawa Diamond Reds on becoming Asian champions," said Koloskov. "Having a club from the host country taken part should make this a very exciting tournament."

Saburo Kawaguchi, JFA President and member of the Organizing Committee, stated that he hoped that "Urawa would be able to break the stranglehold European and South American clubs have on the tournament".

Meanwhile, Urawa officials and players were clearly delighted at the prospect of their club's upcoming appearance at the showpiece competition. "It hadn't really sunk in that we're now Asia's top club, but I'm grasping it for the first time now," said club president Mitsunori Fujiguchi. "When I was watching as a spectator last year, I really wished Urawa were out there playing on a stage like this."

"With Japan hosting the tournament again, it was extremely important to come into the tournament as Asian champions," said the Red Diamonds' German coach Holger Osieck. "I was involved as FIFA's technical director during the last two tournaments, but this time I'll be out there directing from the dugout." His enthusiasm was matched by that of club captain Nobuhisa Yamada, who revealed that players have been focusing on Japan 2007 since the moment they claimed the AFC Champions League crown.