Technology in Football

Long discussions were held over the years about the use of technology in football and its potential impact on the game. These qualms have since been answered, as these state-of-the-art technologies have been implemented and have become the norm in various parts of the world, specifically, in the Bundesliga, which is the league that we are going to focus on in this blog.

Read on to understand more about the objective of goal line technology in modern football and how it affects referees and their decision-making. We hope that you enjoy this blog, and be sure to check other articles that we have put out on the LV BET Sports Blog on VAR and the controversies surrounding that technology and plenty of other aspects of the game that we all love. Share your thoughts on the topic: are you in favour or against technology in football?

What is goal-line technology?  

Goal line technology is a set of sophisticated technology used to determine if the ball has crossed the goal line or not during a football match. The need for such technology came as a consequence of many controversies, namely in the World Cup, when that famous Frank Lampard goal was not given as it was deemed a no-goal by the linesman. Pitchside cameras, however, picked up footage that suggested otherwise and deemed that it should have been a goal. This instance is not the only one of its kind; many others occur across the world of football, which is why this technology is in place to signal the on-pitch officiating ecosystem that a goal has been scored. Match officials are the only ones to receive a signal, and viewers at home can see a replay of the action should the organisers decide to show it.

The decision to approve and implement this technology was taken in 2012, as clubs voted in favour, as long as the use of goal line technology would not interfere with the game – a contrasting approach to that of VAR (Virtual Assistant Referee). VAR was later introduced, and this system was able to both positively and negatively interfere with the game, as we have seen in many games in England and over the world. In contrast to implementing goal line technology, VAR is yet to be perfected by the top leagues, as controversies are still present. To those who argue that the game is losing the human touch due to the use of technology, the people behind this sophisticated technology are very much humans, and that is the reason why mistakes in big games are still present.

How does goal-line technology work?

As the name suggests, this new technology in professional football focuses on the goal line. The system sends a signal indicating whether the ball has fully crossed the line or not – emphasis on the ‘fully’ part. The information is transmitted within one second, which ensures an immediate response from the referee. The system uses 14 high-speed cameras mounted on the catwalk of the stadium/under the roof. The data from the cameras is used to create a 3D animation to visualise the decision to the fans. Watch how FIFA tests the system in this short video.

Hawk eye system is the system that uses cameras on the catwalk on top of the stadium’s roof, which utilises high-speed cameras that track the ball and capture the exact position of the ball, which is normal in other sports such as tennis and cricket.

Benefits of this technology

Introducing goal line technology has improved goal-scoring accuracy, which has led to more goals being scored, it makes games less controversial, as all goals are now clearly the correct decision taken as the final whistle is blown by the referee. It also helps referees make better decisions because they can now rely on accurate data when deciding whether a goal should count or not. The most important factor is that goal line technology is much faster than any human could possibly be at making these decisions.

Effect on the German football league

Proposals have been made by Bayern Munich for German football to introduce goal-line technology, just a year after the proposal was initially rejected. During this timeframe, hawk eye system was implemented in Premier League, and it was notifying referees whenever the ball crosses the goal line. Once the German Football League saw the positives from other leagues, they reassured themselves that it really was the correct idea at that point in time.

The English Premier League introduced goal line technology in the 2013 season and soon after, Bundesliga referees got the helping hand of goal line technology at the start of the 2015-16 season. The introduction of this significant and exciting evolution was a step forward which elevated the quality of Bundesliga fixtures.

In the past, Bundesliga referees deemed two ‘ghost goals’ as valid even when the players pointed out a fault in the net that caused the ball to enter the goal. Through this, camera technology and hawk eye, coupled up with video assistant referee decisions will be correct more often than not.

Past incidents in German Football

One of the most well-known incidents in the Bundesliga happened during the 2013/14 season, when Stefan Kiessling scored a goal that should never have been given. In this goal, you can see a crossed ball which is met by Kiessling who heds the ball into the side netting and his initial reaction was that he missed his chance. The ball goes through the net due to a hole in it which gives the impression of a goal which the referee awards straight away. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the match officials, this system of cameras offers great support in a tense situation. In this particular instance, the opposing team show the hole in the net but since the goal was given the first time, it was not possible to revert this goal, there were no process to back this decision. After the game both clubs released a statement voicing their opinions on what happened during the match, setting the tone for things to come in upcoming seasons.

A somewhat similar incident happened in the 1993/94 season when Bayern Munich played FC Nurnberg. This, in comparison to the one mentioned above, is quite bizarre as the ball never hits the net. It all started from a corner kick which was whipped into the box. Thomas Helmer had a tussle with the keeper but the ball never crossed the line nor touched the net and was cleared away. It seems like the only people that deem that action as a goal where the linesman and the referee as both sets of players did not appeal for anything. Eventually, due to the criticism that the Bundesliga had received, the final result of 2-1 in favour of Bayern had to be scrapped and the match had to be replayed – Bayern Munich won the replay 6-0.

Technology in Football

Football is no exception, so in an ever-improving world that is always looking to take that step forward, technology is precisely the means to move forward. Similar technologies could be implemented in the near future in order to facilitate offside calls – called player-line technology, which pinpoints the exact position a player is in when the pass is played to him by his teammate. Teams are always looking to make the game fair, but as we continue to ramp up the innovative ideas, there are some serious costs involved. In a sport that has a lot of imbalance between big and small teams in terms of facilities, with these technologies, costs might be too high for lower leagues or clubs to keep up.

Milestones for goal line technology in Football

The English Premier League introduced hawk eye system during the 2013–14 Premier League season and the later rounds of the 2013–14 Football League Cup.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup was the first-time when goal line technology was used on the biggest stage. The first goal given through this technology was in a game World Cup group stage game between France and Honduras.

In December 2014, the Bundesliga clubs voted and approved goal-line technology, which was introduced at the start of the 2015–16 Bundesliga season.

Goal Line Technology was used in the UEFA Europa League final, UEFA Champions League, European Championship and Copa America for the first time in 2016. This introduction improved the quality and security, since it means that a decision taken by the match officials would the correct one due to the system support. The fully integrated data that is gathered from other sports such as tennis and cricket has also helped by leaps and bounds. 


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