EPL to use Hawk-Eye; Spain, Germany stall on tech
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The English Premier League on Thursday became the first national competition in world football to approve the use of goal-line technology, with Hawk-Eye being deployed at stadiums from next season.
The Spanish and German leagues, however, said they would hold off from giving referees high-tech aids for at least two years, while the Italians have no plans to use such systems.
The English have championed Hawk-Eye since 2006, but FIFA opposed the use of technology until 2010 when England’s World Cup campaign ended following a game that saw Frank Lampard denied a legitimate goal.
Now England’s leading stadiums can start to install the camera-based ball-tracking system from Hawk-Eye, which has been successfully deployed in tennis and cricket. It was chosen ahead of three rival products sanctioned by FIFA, which is set to use another camera system, GoalControl, at the World Cup next year.
Hawk-Eye, which is owned by Sony, sends a signal within a second of the ball crossing the line to the referee, who has the power to make the final call on a disputed goal.
“Hawk-Eye stood out for their excellent track record in delivering for sport over many years,” Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said. “The fact it was a camera-based system was critical. Replays will be made available to all our host broadcasters and we are examining the feasibility of them being used on in-stadium big-screens.
“It is essential that fans see the system in action to know that it is working.”
As well as being installed at the 20 Premier League clubs, Hawk-Eye is set to be used at Wembley Stadium in English football’s showpiece matches, including the FA Cup final.
“We understand the responsibility that we have been given, and that the real challenge lies ahead in consistently delivering the technology that football deserves,” Hawk-Eye inventor Paul Hawkins said.
England coach Roy Hodgson described the Premier League’s introduction of technology as a “momentous” day for football.
“It will stop some of those gross injustices that we have seen in recent years where goals have obviously been scored and not allowed,” he said.
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand asked on Twitter: “What will we do without all the media/pub/friends etc debates?” Will we miss it?”
Such debates will still exist elsewhere on the continent.
The Italian football federation told The Associated Press that it has no current plans to implement goal-line technology, and will wait to see how successful it is elsewhere. Italy has tested UEFA President Michel Platini’s alternative to technology — placing an extra official behind each goal.
Germany’s Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga both say they don’t plan to introduce the technology until at least 2015.
“We think this is the right way to go — that all major leagues will have this technology in place and we are looking at it right now,” La Liga chief executive Francisco Roca Perez said in an interview on the sidelines of the SoccerEx conference in Manchester.
“If it is not two seasons from now, it will be three, but as soon as we can. We are going to be watching the experience in the Premier League to see how it goes and how it helps, and whatever things we can learn from the process.”
Perez doesn’t think technology should be limited to goal-line decisions, and wants cameras to be used to rule on disputed off-side decisions as well.
“Helping refereeing is essential because this has become a huge business with enormous implications,” he said. “It’s really sad when you see mistakes that are honest mistakes but affecting in a big way the outcome of a football match.”
In the United States, Major League Soccer won’t be rushing to introduce technology, and says it continues “to monitor it for possible use in the future.”
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris
AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf in Rome and Nesha Starcevic in Frankfurt, Germany contributed to this report.