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German football and the goal line controversy - A question that needs answering

Soumo Ghosh
3.19K   //    18 May 2014, 18:01 IST
Dante Mats Hummels

Dante clearing Hummels’ shot off the line.

Bayern München’s 2-0 extra time victory over Borusia Dortmund, in the DFB Pokal Final, yesterday at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, has fanned the flames of thee goal-line controversy once again.

Arjen Robben and Thomas Müller scored late in the second half of extra time to take the Bavarian giants to their fourth title this season. It was however Dortmund defender Mats Hummels’ second half strike that got the Deutsche Fooßball Bund (DFB) into more controversy, last night.

At around the hour mark, Hummels managed to head an indirect free kick from Nuri Sahin towards the goal. Bayern defender, Dante did manage to clear it off the line. The replays however, suggested that the ball had gone well past the goal-line, before the Brazilian centre-back cleared it. The referee though decided to give the benefit of the doubt to the Bavarians.

Dortmund manager, Jurgen Klopp however, was left fuming at the referee, Florian Meyer’s decision yesterday. “I don’t want to pin the blame on the referee, but the goal would have changed a lot,” Klopp told Sky in a post-match interview. He also went on to say, “The referee Florian Meyer told me you need the goal-line technology for those things.”

Ironically however, Bayern were one of the few teams, earlier in the year, to vote in favour of the goal-line technology being implemented in the Bundesliga and the Bundesliga 2 – the top two divisions of German domestic football.

Bayern manager, Pep Guardiola himself came out in public and said that he supported the new advances in this technology. It was mainly most of the clubs from the Bundesliga 2, who voted against this technology, citing it as a waste of their money. In the Bundesliga, it was a split decision, with 9 teams voting for and 9 teams voting against the motion.

Dortmund’s arch rivals, Schalke 04 were one of the nine teams from the Bundesliga to reject the implementation of the goal-line technology earlier in the year. Their Sporting Director, Horst Heldt said, “I’m against it because it is not well thought out enough, and it costs much.”

Cost is the main reason why most of these clubs have rejected the goal-line technology. However, the accuracy of the goal-line technology has also been brought into question.

This technology mainly uses two techniques to determine whether the ball has crossed the line. Firstly, they use the magnetic impulses from a device placed within the ball to determine whether it has crossed the artificially created magnetic field within the frame of the goal.

The second technology that they use is the Hawkeye, which is also used in Tennis and Cricket. For Hawkeye, seven cameras are placed at strategic positions around each goal, forming a semi-circular formation around it. These cameras help tracking the trajectory of the ball, and determine whether the ball has actually crossed the line or not.

An animated depiction of HawkEye

An animated depiction of HawkEye

In spite of all these efforts being put into the goal-line technology, there still remains an error margin of three inches. And in a scramble in front of the goal, even an error by three inches could spell doom for one team or the other.

It is now to be seen whether the DFB decide to implement the goal-line technology. There are very good arguments both for and against it. It certainly reduces the human error, although it is not completely fool-proof in itself.

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Soumo Ghosh
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