A new system of cameras, developed by German company GoalControl, has received the FIFA GLT license and is being evaluated at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil. Requiring no changes to the ball, goals, net or pitch, GoalControl-4D utilizes 14 cameras that monitor the precise location of the ball. When the ball crosses the goal line, the central processing unit sends an encrypted radio signal that notifies the referee’s watch in less than one second.
Tech-enabled officiating is a different debate for each sport, but the implications of technology on gameplay and the guest experience will only increase as new discoveries and capabilities emerge. Also at play in the debate is referee and guest safety, as violent incidents in sports can easily be triggered by a call (or lack thereof) that ignites volatile reactions from an impassioned army of attendees.
From ball placement in American football to the strike zone in baseball, our culture seems to increasingly demand that our officiating transcend the limits of the human eye. Technology is rapidly trying to close the gaps of human error, but to what extent? Recent violence against referees in youth sports is a sobering reminder that until we have GoalControl-4D installed on every pee-wee field in the world, we might be forced as a culture to deal with the imperfections we all bring to the event.