Goal-line technology a step closer

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Goal-line technology is a significant step closer after confirmation that a live test will take place in the international friendly between England and Belgium at Wembley on June 2nd.

Hawk-Eye - an English-based company in Hampshire - was one of two companies approved by the International Football Association Board to move into the second phase of testing back in March.

They've since been working at Southampton's St. Mary's Stadium in an effort to perfect the process. This stage of testing is regarded as 'field tests'.

Additional areas in this 'phase' include training sessions and laboratory tests, with real live matches to follow in an effort to make sure all possible eventualities are covered.

This is now where Hawk-Eye stand, and is actually the second live test after the Hampshire Senior Cup Final between Eastleigh FC and AFC Totton on May 16th.

Providing things run smoothly at 'the home of football', FIFA's independently appointed testers - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) - will then conduct two more days of testing.

A decision could even be made on the implementation of goal-line technology on July 2nd, when the IFAB meet in Kyiv at the conclusion of Euro 2012.

So how does Hawk-Eye work?

The system uses six cameras per goal specifically placed to pin-point the position of the ball in the goal. The theory of 'triangulation' is used to get the exact point of the ball, and therefore judge if it's crossed the line completely.

If yes, a radio signal is sent to the wristwatch of the referee within a second. If no, then nothing.

They don't have it all their own way though, with another company - GoalRef - also working towards landing a potentially lucrative contract.

Based in Denmark, the system is different but aims to produce the same result. A microchip is implanted in the ball, with low magnetic waves around the goal.

If the ball breaks the goal-line, a change is detected in the field and a message sent to the referee to confirm that a goal has been scored. If not, nothing.

Whilst it's yet to be confirmed, they could also face a high-profile test in the coming weeks, with a friendly against Australia in Copenhangen penciled in for June 2nd also.

Were either system to get the go-ahead in July, it remains unlikely that implementation would be able to take place across all 20 Premier League grounds before the start of the season.

And, whilst Hawk-Eye Managing Director Steve Carter says nothing is impossible, the company's focus is currently on completing 'phase two' successfully.

"Nothing's impossible, but at the moment - we would need to recce the stadiums, make sure that there is suitable infrastructure in place - all of that requires time," he told the BBC.

"Really it's not something we really want to consider at the moment. We're focused on phase two."

Goal-line technology has always been a contentious issue, but became topical for FIFA following the World Cup in 2010, when Frank Lampard's goal against Germany was not given despite pictures clearly showing the ball was in.

46 years earlier, the Three Lions benefited when the decision did go there way, although debate still rages as to whether the ball was or wasn't in during the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley.

Plenty more examples can be found in England this season as well, with Juan Mata's strike against Spurs in the FA Cup last four and Andy Carroll's late header for Liverpool in the final - both at Wembley - raising the issue once again.

QPR centre back Clint Hill also missed out on a clear goal for QPR at Bolton during the Premier League survival race, although it didn't cost the Hoops at the end of the season.

Realistically, 2013/14 seems like a start date for goal-line technology in all of world football's top divisions - providing one or both of the systems pass the second phase - and football will never be the same because of it.

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