World Cup 2014 Tech: Goal Line Technology

As we gear up for the World Cup, I’m pretty chuffed to welcome the refereeing blogger known as L’Arbitre to Play the Advantage. He’s going to be sharing a series that’s all about the technology referees will use in Brazil. If you’re a referee geek like me, you’re going to love this. To start us off, he’s gone straight for the Big Kahuna of refereeing tech, Goal Line Technology.

And be sure and go check out his refereeing adventures over at Refereeing the Beautiful Game

By L’Arbitre

In the last World Cup’s Round of 16 game between Germany and England, England’s denied goal served as a catalyst to the introduction of technology in football: specifically, Goal Line Technology!

England trailed 2-1 just after halftime. Frank Lampard’s (ENG) shot ricocheted off the crossbar into the goal and then back out, creating a flashpoint. The Uruguayan referee saw no signal from his Assistant and, at that speed, the referee took the logical decision and allowed play to continue. By the next time the ball had gone out of play, the whole world had seen the ball cross the line on replay.

Jorge Larriondas’ tournament was over.

Compare that to the GLT decision in the Aston Villa and Fulham game in the Barclays Premier League this past season. It was whiskers away from being a goal and is claimed to be the closest ever decision given by the GLT system.*


How does it work?
The various manufacturers employ different methods but our focus will be on FIFA’s first choice for the tournament: Goal Control.

Goal Control makes use of 14 high speed cameras around the pitch that are used to triangulate the position of the ball. It is claimed to work with any size goal frame, ball, pitch and weather conditions. It is accurate to within a few millimetres.


The cameras are connected to a high power image processing system that tracks the ball. The decision is sent to the referee’s watch. This is called the Goal Decision System and the result is delivered within one second.

Why should referees use it?
Consider the referee’s current line of thinking during a tight goal line decision.

In a split second they have a call to make that affects millions around the world with little to no evident information on proof of a goal or not. On the tightest of decisions, it’s a guess. The weight of the game is on the referee’s shoulders in those split seconds. With GLT, the referee instead can calmly turn to his watch for the decision.

How does it change the game?
Testing needs to be done before every game by the referee crew during the pitch inspection to ensure that the GLT is working to satisfaction. The referee is able to choose whether they would like to proceed or not with it depending on the results. During the game, almost nothing changes as the referee has an insurance policy on the result of a goal. Fan reactions also change now as pure outrage at the referee instead becomes disappointment at their team’s performance and luck.

Do referees like this?
I would say yes for the majority! The accuracy by which they can give decisions improves without compromising the speed of the game.

GLT has been on trial run in several tournaments, including the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup where it showed positive results.

In my opinion, GLT is a great addition to a match official’s arsenal without removing from the spirit or fun of the game. The speed of the decision sent to the referee’s watch promotes football’s free-flowing and attacking spirit.

*Editor’s Note: English Premier League employs Hawk-Eye, a different system than the one to be used at the World Cup.


  • I like GLT but I don’t like the fact that the Fulham goal was not deemed a goal. Forgive me but I have a fundamental problem with this “the whole of the ball must cross the whole of the line” malarkey. The ball was basically in. 99.9% of it was in, and yes, maybe 1mm of it was not in, but isn’t the GLT system only accurate to a few mm anyway?

    I am no Fulham fan or Villa fan but I just think, if it’s that close, it should be given. But I have no idea where the limit is set — over half the ball is across the line? So I can understand, for ease and clarity of the rule, it is deemed ‘the whole of the ball’ and ‘the whole of the line;…

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I remember feeling the same way watching that game. I accepted the GLT call, but I was still thinking: “Really??”

      I guess it comes down to, you have to have a standard. Otherwise, it becomes too much of a judgment call and inconsistency will happen. How much of the ball being over the line is enough?


  • Hi Jenna. I’m not sure if I’m saying this clearly or even correctly (English is not my language), but I’ll try anyway.

    How is it going to be, if:
    Say, the grass is ‘damaged’ in such a way that the line is damaged too (from some sliding tackle or whatever), then the ball lands just at that very spot. Goal, or no goal?

    Another way of looking at this rant of mine is by using your 2nd ‘no goal’ pic. Ceteris paribus, but erase the white area a little bit, just enough to let the ball ‘pass’.
    Thank you.


    • First of all, Law 10 will be applied just as in all World Cup competition. Here’s a graphic showing just what is considered a goal and isn’t. The issue you’re talking about (although the assistant ref is responsible for ensuring the pitch is fair and playable) is pretty much what GLT is for. Think of it as a “virtual line” created by the sensors and cameras. It won’t matter if a bit of white is wiped off the painted-on line; the GLT will “know” where the line is supposed to be and make the decision.

      I’ve been super impressed with GLT when I’ve seen it in play in competition and think it’s the one tech that should really be fully embraced by the fans. It’s much more fair than trying to rely on referees being able to see through poles and players’ bodies and tell if a shot crossed the line.


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