Football gets its Hawkeye

January 8, 2018
WG Grace
This week, football’s new video assessment system reaches cup competitions in England. Will we learn from experiences in other sports?
Technology was accepted for lines-calls in tennis some years ago. It has also been introduced into cricket, and Rugby (both codes). LWD followed the emergence of Hawkeye in tennis, and one post has been studied as a business leadership case.
The changes were mostly accepted, perhaps grudgingly from those with a yearning for the romance of earlier days. Football now seems likely to follow a similar trajectory of initial controversy followed by eventual acceptance. There will almost certainly be learning from experience.
The new football system has been tested in Italy for around a hundred matches. It seems that the video referee is called into action in about 25% of matches. This is in contrast to the approach followed by rugby, when the hold-ups are incessant, and where referees are now conditioned to check every possible infringement,or point-scoring opportunity.
Tennis and cricket have opted for a limited number of player appeals. The approaches has been linked to spectator involvement following the game on large viewing screens, and rather naff graphics in cricket.
The problem I see is a concern by official bodies to obtain the ‘technically correct’ decision. This may be influenced by the financial swings hanging on a single decision.  In tennis, this means the evidence for a ball being hit in (including on) the line, or outside the line. The technology tends to be trusted to a precision that is not possible for the human eye of even the best umpires. A similar state of affairs holds in cricket where the technology reveals the slightest of contact with ball on bat, which would influence a decision for caught or LBW (out for the ball striking the player’s pads according to complex rules known as leg before wicket).
The current systems reduce uncertainties of human error to plausible ‘right or wrong’ decisions.  We are not quite at the limits of uncertainty according to the scientific principle formulated by Heisenberg, but not precise enough to make practical debate futile.
A better way?
There is a modification to this approach which seems better to me. The technology could be used to avoid obvious errors, rather than resolve minuscule quibbles over the slightest of touches of a ball on a bat, or whether  a ball has gone beyond the line (of a football or tennis playing area , or marginally forward in a passing sequence in rugby (one of the game’s delights cut short too often at present.)
Will the new system being introduced resolve controversy about decisions by the officials? Not according to one Italian expert describing their footballing experience. Are the fans happy? Only if the decision is in their team’s favour, he replied with a sigh.
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Hawkeye wins goal-line battle in England

April 12, 2013

Goal Control technologyThe Hawkeye subsidiary of Sony wins the battle for supplying goal line technology in England, after losing out to Goal Control for the World Cup

You heard it here first. LWD has been monitoring the entrepreneurial leadership at Hawkeye, long before it was taken over by Sony. Our students have predicted its diversification into football monitoring technology since the takeover.

A surprise defeat

Last week, we reported a surprise defeat [April 3rd 2012] in its efforts to provide its well-established system for the forthcoming Football World Cup in Brazil. The victor was an even younger and less well-known German organization known as Goal Control.

After a defeat, victory

Yesterday, [April 11th 2012] The Premier League clubs announced that they would be using the Hawkeye system next season to prevent goal-line errors. The Lampard ‘goal that wasn’t’ [England versus Germany, World Cup 2012] has been mentioned as a contributing factor in the decision to accept the new technology. I assume it was a rational decision to chose the UK [Japanese] system over the German one…

On slips cups and lips

If I may be permitted another editorial cliché, there may be many a slip between the [World] cup and lip. Or at least between winning the first battles and winning the war for competitive leadership in football. Goal Line technology is seen as no more than a first-stage in the process of change in football.

Updates

This is an updatable blog. Fresh information will be supplied as it emerges.


Goal Control wins first battle for football’s goal-line technology leadership

April 3, 2013

Goal ControlGoal Control is an unexpected winner which has emerged in the battle for Football’s goal-line technology

The German company Goal Control won the battle for installing goal line technology in football over the earlier favourite Hawkeye.
The decision was announced yesterday [April 3rd 2013] by Football’s international governing body FIFA.

According to the Guardian:

The British-based company Hawk-Eye has been frustrated in its attempt to supply goalline technology at the Confederations Cup in Brazil this summer, and most likely at next year’s World Cup, after Fifa surprisingly awarded the contract to the German company, GoalControl.

Its system, GoalControl-4D, uses 14 high-speed cameras located around the pitch and directed at both goals and was selected by world football’s governing body ahead of three other Fifa-licensed technology providers, including Hawk-Eye. While losing out on the contract represents a blow to the British firm, it still aspires to provide goalline technology to the English domestic game and is one of four companies still in talks with the Premier League and the Football Association over the potential introduction of a camera-based system as early as next season. It will compete again with GoalControl, GoalRef and CAIROS for the honour to provide a system for the 20 Premier League grounds and Wembley.

Bouncing back

Hawk-Eye has expressed its disappointment at losing out on the contract. “Sport teaches us many lessons, including accepting defeat graciously and having confidence in your ability to bounce back strongly,” it said in a statement. “Hawk-Eye wishes Fifa and the appointed goalline technology supplier every success at the Fifa Confederations Cup 2013.”

Declaring an interest

Regular subscribers to LWD will recall that we identified HawkEye as a fine example of a high technology company with an entrepreneurial leader. We also speculated on its future after being taken over by Sony. Students studying the case pointed to the football market as a promising future development for the new company.

What happens next?

The statement by Hawkeye is heartedly upbeat. Meanwhile, we will now dig more deeply to learn more of the story of the late-entry by Goal Control which claimed victory in the first battle over goal line technology. The company website is less than helpful in this respect.

Update

The Herald sun of Australia noted that

FIFA, through its rule-making panel known as IFAB, approved goal-line technology last July, when Hawk-Eye and GoalRef passed the rigorous testing process. Those systems were tested at the Club World Cup in Japan last December, before Cairos and GoalControl had even been licensed.