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The technical side of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil

On the occasion of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, we will report on two topics which are "made in Germany" and entail the advantage of remaining up to date through to the finale. It is interesting to note that hardly any football fan knows that Public Viewing was invented in Dortmund and that the equipment based on goal line technology comes from Würselen near Aachen. We will talk to both inventors and provide you with interesting information having an impact far beyond the limits of sport, since Public Viewing has also a socializing effect and the goal line technology will finally solve the errors committed by referees, as a result of which a football match can get completely out of hand. Stay with us up to the finale!

Interview with Rolf Dittrich, Media Officer, GoalControl

When did FIFA opt for your system?

On 10 October the International Football Association FIFA announced in Rio de Janeiro that the company GoalControl GmbH, Würselen, shall be entrusted with providing the equipment for the goal line technology for the FIFA Football World Cup 2014 Brazil™. The company will install its system "GoalControl-4D", based on 14 high speed cameras in all 12 venues chosen in Brazil for the most important and world's biggest football tournament (12 June through 13 July 2014), and will ensure smooth operation.

Will you have to make a new bid prior to each World Cup, or are you sure that you will be on stage in Russia in 2018?

The current assignment covers the FIFA Football World Cup 2014 Brazil™. 

How could the breakthrough be achieved, since it is known that the two most important decision-makers in world football disagreed in that respect? Michel Platini from UEFA had vehemently resisted the introduction of the goal line technology, whereas Joseph Blatter from FIFA came out in favour of this technology.

The two goals scored in the football matches between England and Germany in 1966 and 2010 are undoubtedly the most familiar examples of goalmouth scenes, which gave plenty of food for discussion. However, there have been controversial cases in the recent past where the relevant question was not whether the ball jumped from the crossbar on or just behind the goal line. The following videos show a selection of such goal scenes from the last few years.

Nevertheless the "Lampard goal" from 2010 might have been the decisive impulse for the wider opening of the IFAB in favour of technical aids. On 5 July 2012 the International Football Association Board (IFAB) unanimously decided after a nine months'  test phase, which started to run in August 2011 under the management of the EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research), to basically admit the systems provided by the companies involved in test phase 2. The admission was granted under the reservation of a final installation test to be performed in accordance with the FIFA quality program for TLT in each football stadium, before the systems can be implemented in "real" football matches. The IFAB stressed that said technology will solely be used for the goal line, and thus for no other game areas.

We know that there are two systems of goal line technology: The cameras and the chip in the ball. Does your company offer both systems, or only the cameras, as with the World Cup in Brazil?

GoalControl is a specialist for image real-time analysis. The team of GoalControl has gained many years of experience with the development and installation of camera-based systems. These systems record, identify and track objects in complex environments, for instance a football in 3D on a football field. With GoalControl-4D we have developed a system which fulfils all FIFA criteria for GLT (goal line technology). The system is based on 14 cameras, which are arranged around the playing field and are geared towards both goals. The ball position is continuously and automatically recorded in 3 dimensions, as soon as the ball gets near the goal line. Once the ball has completely crossed the goal line, the central evaluation unit sends in less than one second a coded signal (vibration and signal sound) to the receiver watch of the referee. GoalControl-4D thus helps the referee to make a clear decision: goal or no goal.

How did you experience the wrong decisions during the World Cup in South Africa? Was your system ready for operation in those days already?

At that time, GoalControl was still at the development phase.

The company GoalControl GmbH, Würselen, received the FIFA license for its goal line system "GoalControl-4D".

 

     

Dirk Broichhausen and Dr. Jürgen Philipps, managing directors of GoalControl

After successful completion of the test runs carried out in February 2013 in the Düsseldorf Esprit-Arena and in the Veltins-Arena of Gelsenkirchen, GoalControl GmbH and FIFA now signed the License Agreement. "We are glad about this historic success and about a situation where we can shape the sport of football a bit for the better", said GoalControl Managing Director and shareholder Dirk Broichhausen.

The licensed goal line system GoalControl-4D may from now onwards be used at official matches, football leagues and tournaments. GoalControl furthermore participates in the tender process for supplying the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 with equipment and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil with goal line systems.

When did it start?

It all started in April 2009 in front of the TV at home. Dirk Broichhausen watched the live broadcast of the then second league match 1860 Munich – 1. FC Kaiserslautern; with a scene marked "Wembley goal" scored shortly before the final whistle. Nobody was really able to judge in that situation - where the ball jumped from the crossbar probably behind the line and then again into the field - on whether a hit happened; least of all the referee. Instead of 2:1 for the "Lions", the duel ended in a draw. Broichhausen considered this to be a sporting injustice and on the next day he consulted in his company Pixargus, specializing in automated quality control in the industrial production, the chief engineer, asking the question: "Can we also detect a ball with our camera systems?" "What kind of ball?", was the question posed in response. "A football",  this is how 

Broichhausen briefly and concisely described the challenge - and the project started.

Is a goal scored, only when the ball lies entirely above the line, or is it sufficient if half of the ball crosses the line?

As established by the international football rules: Once the ball has completely crossed the goal line, the central evaluation unit sends in less than one second a coded optical and acoustic signal to the receiver watch of the referee.

Can the goal line technology be compared with the offside technology?

An "offside technology" does not exist. An electronic monitoring of the offside rule is currently not even compliant to the rules!

When was your system initially applied during an official football match?

In the course of the matches at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 in Brazil.

What costs should be expected for the installation of your equipment, and can maintenance work or updates be considered?

There is no all-inclusive price, since the costs are dependent upon numerous factors - like for instance the number of football stadiums, the term of contract, how complex is the installation etc. We must, however, assume that a six-digit amount per football stadium is concerned. Around 200.000 EUR.

Further performances of the system: Can your system also determine the goal scorer after a scramble in the penalty area?

With the help of a camera-based system it is possible to expand and develop numerous further functionalities for the analysis. Currently, however, the GoalControl-4D system is geared to the actual task of the goal line technology.

How can you eliminate confusion, since during this match the scoreboard first showed "No Goal", when the ball hit the post?

The goal line technology helped the referee Sandro Ricci in the World Cup match between France and Honduras held on Sunday, and furnished the evidence of the second goal scored by France. The pertinent animation made the goal clear to the spectators, since the normal TV pictures could not unequivocally clarify whether a goal had been scored or not.

This explains how the relevant animations are to be understood and why, in this special case, the animation "No Goal" was initially shown and was immediately thereafter followed by the animation confirming the goal. Basically animations can be shown in cases where the ball is less than 30 centimeters away from the goal line, and of course where the ball crosses the line.

The animations of goals and other scenes on the goal line are provided by the company GoalControl GmbH as supplier of the goal line technology, and can then be used by the respective Head of the production team. Upon the second goal of France the ball first jumped onto the inner post and jumped from there back from the goal area, before it hit the goalkeeper and then moved again towards the goal and finally crossed the goal line. The first animation showed how the ball hit the inner post, but failed to cross the line. Immediately thereafter the second animation made it clear that, after bouncing off the goalkeeper, the ball completely crossed the goal line. Hence, the system correctly clarified two successive scenes!

See the folowing links on goal line technology: link I, link II

Don't you fear, now already, that you helped to introduce a two-class system between the rich countries, which can afford to purchase such equipment, and the developing countries?

This question is somewhat hard to understand. For a long time already, different standards have been used in international football, as far as the monitoring of rule compliance is concerned. This has nothing to do with "rich" and "poor" countries, but rather with the importance and significance of the competitions concerned. 

Besides Morocco, where your equipment was installed for the FIFA Club World Championship in December 2013, have you established further contacts in the African countries?

Numerous international associations and leagues have searched for contact to us in the last few months; also from the area where the Confederation of African Football (CAF) is located.

The Interview was held by Ibrahim Guèye

 

The Interview with GoalControl has led us to think of further controversial cases which might be solved by cameras: Will cameras be soon able to solve the offside problems? What about a throw-in, when two footballers claim the ball and when the referees seem reluctant? Can we achieve perfection with the help of cameras? The Football World Cup 2018 will be definitely exciting in terms of the technical development.