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Goal-line decision in four weeks

Goal-line technology is tested

In exactly four weeks, the IFAB will convene for a Special Meeting in Zurich on 5 July. After nine months of testing in England, Germany, Hungary and Italy, two companies, Hawk-Eye and GoalRef are the two remaining Goal-Line Technology (GLT) systems.

With the second test phase set to conclude tomorrow, both companies are will learn whether the IFAB has approved in principle the introduction of GLT, in what would undoubtedly be a historic moment in the IFAB’s 127 year history.

Today at the home of Bundesliga club FC Nuremberg, Goal-Ref have been undertaking their Field Tests monitored not only by Rolf Staempli and Michael Koster from the independent test institute EMPA, but also a large group of German and Swiss media.

The origins of GoalRef are in another sport, after the Danish based organisation developed a system for the International Handball Federation. Several systems were presented, but progress was limited due to a lack of financial backing. In 2011, GoalRef began to work with the German organisation the Fraunhofer IIS, entering the first set of GLT tests in February 2011.

“The Fraunhofer IIS is part of an organisation with 60 different Institutes, and we are all applied research organisations” explained Ingmar Bretz, GoalRef’s Project Leader. “We develop products and then licence them, or work on product development, developing technologies for different companies. One of our most well-known ‘successes’ is MP3, which was developed at our headquarters in Erlangen.”

The Fraunhofer Institute is now the lead partner, working alongside the technology’s original inventor. The company are also currently looking into solutions for 5-a-side football and Futsal goals.

When our balls crosses the magnetic field, this ‘disturbs’ our system, and we can pinpoint that the ball has crossed the goal-line.

The on-looking media in Nuremberg observed an impact wall test today, just one element of EMPA’s rigorous system analysis. A ball-shooting machine placed 6m from the goal-line, and the size and shape of the wall is similar to that of a goalkeeper (190cm tall). With this test, EMPA are seeking to determine the dynamic accuracy of the GoalRef technology. The wall starts out in front of the goal-line and then is moved backwards in increments, until finally it is behind the goal-line. The ball hits the impact wall at speeds between 50-120 km/h, with High Definition cameras determining whether the ball has crossed the line or not. If the shot is a 'goal', a vibration and visual signal is sent to a watch, worn by the testers, within one second.

So how does the GoalRef system work? Rene Dunkler is the Communications and PR Manager for GoalRef, and had the unenviable task today of explaining the system in layman’s terms to the gathered media, and FIFA.com.

“Our system works in each goal, with ten antennas mounted on the goalposts and crossbar, encased in plastic. There is an antenna ‘exciter’ that is partially below the ground, and this is connected to a processor. Inside the ball, there are three electronic coils, sitting between the bladder of the ball and the ball panels. When the ball enters the goal, the antenna system is activated, and ‘excites’ the processor. Once the magnetic field has been crossed, signalling a goal, the wireless RF signal is transmitted to the referee’s watch. We believe we can achieve all this in less than 0.5 seconds.”

If the above explanation still takes some understanding, Mr Dunkler continued: “Imagine a still lake with no wind; the water is completely flat. Then if it begins to rain, the first raindrop disturbs the surface of the water. When our balls crosses the magnetic field, this ‘disturbs’ our system, and we can pinpoint that the ball has crossed the goal-line.”

Testing in Nuremberg will continue into this evening under floodlight conditions, and then into tomorrow when the GoalRef system will also be tested in a training match.

The wait to find out what will happen next, is now just a matter of weeks away.

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