Goal line technology: is GLT the new LHC?

I know something is up when I get consecutive phone calls from the press to comment on the same subject.  Most recently this was about goal-line technology and  I wondered what I could say that hadn’t already been said.  And then I realised what the story was:  that goal-line technology is a non-story very much like the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The next in goal line technology?

Those in the UK may remember back in 2009 the moment when the LHC was switched on and the search for the Higg’s boson – the ‘God Particle’ – began (so-called because it was thought to be so crucial to our understanding of physics).  There was a lengthy introduction, a live feed, a 3 – 2 – 1 and the commentator dramatically announcing, “and there we have it, the Large Hadron Collider is now on, and… and….”  a long pause.  Followed by a technical hitch (even nuclear scientists get it wrong) and by an even longer pause (of about a year).

The point is, that once we start using goal-line technology, it will only actually come into action very rarely and even then we won’t see anything.  As a reminder, FIFA is trialling two technologies – one from Hawkeye and another from Goalref.  The former uses camera tracking while the latter uses a  sensor in the ball that interacts with emitters in the goal, but the outcome is the same: if the ball is over the line then a watch worn by the referee vibrates.

The sensational drama unfolding before you will be that the referee will blow his whistle and award a goal.  Not something entirely unexpected if we all thought it was a goal anyway.  The controversy will be whether the goal-line technology was actually switched on, whether it worked, whether the watch vibrated, and whether the referee had already decided that it was a goal anyway.

I suppose, all I’m saying is, don’t hold your breath for a dramatic event.  The ‘Goal Particle’ will happen eventually but whether it will lead to football as the origin of the Universe I’m really not sure.

About stevehaake

Steve is Professor of Sports Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University. He has a degree in Physics from the University of Leeds and a PhD from Aston University on the mechanics of golf balls on golf greens. He has over 200 publications, including his first book "Advantage Play: Technologies that changed Sporting History" due out in October 2018.

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