GPS Software Set To Settle Soccer Scores?
GPS Tracking Influence On Soccer
From the military and police, to businesses and members of the public, GPS tracking technology continue to play a growing role in day to day life.
Whether it’s something as simple as a GPS satellite navigation guiding us safely to our destination when driving a vehicle or getting our beloved pets micro-chipped so we know where they are, or helping police to carry out surveillance and gather the evidence needed to crack complex cases, tracking systems are used to solve a wide range of problems.
And now GPS vehicle tracking or monitoring technology is all set to settle one of the longest and loudest arguments in professional sports.
Later this month, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the group that has the ultimate say on the rules of soccer, is finally expected to give the thumbs up to introducing tracking technology to prove whether a goal has been scored.
Debate over whether the ball has crossed the line or not has caused controversy in soccer for decades. Jose Mourinho bitterly blamed Chelsea’s 2005 European Cup semi-final defeat against Liverpool on a “ghost goal” scored by Luis Garcia, which television replays were unable to conclusively prove whether it should have been allowed.
Even to this day, Geoff Hurst’s decisive third goal in England’s 4-2 triumph over West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final divides two nations over whether the “Russian linesman” (technically he was from Azerbaijan) made the correct call.
But the issue finally came to a head at this summer’s World Cup tournament, when the officials ruled out a crucial Frank Lampard “goal” that was clearly well over the line during England’s 4-1 defeat to Germany.
Sepp Blatter, the President of soccer’s governing body FIFA, has been a staunch opponent of using tracking technology, rejecting both a microchip system developed by German firm Cairos in partnership with Adidas and a version of the Hawkeye simulation technology currently used in international cricket and tennis.
As recently as March, FIFA categorically ruled out the need for technology, citing fears over its accuracy, as well as claiming it would be too expensive and impractical to implement at all levels of the sport, from the top professionals right down to the grassroots. But following the Lampard fiasco, even Mr Blatter admitted it would be “nonsense” not to explore the idea further.
And Howard Webb, the experienced English Premier League official and referee of this year’s soccer World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands says he is open minded to any sort of tracking technology that “makes my job easier, that makes me more credible”.
The IFAB’s next meeting on 20 October will now focus on which technologies could work the best, with options up for discussion including placing a microchip tracker device inside the ball, attaching television cameras to the goals, and incorporating tracking technology that simulates the path of a ball in a matter of seconds.
And it’s not just soccer that is exploring the opportunities provided by such technology. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have spent years perfecting a project that tracks the real time position of an American Football. As well as helping officials to work out which player at the bottom of the pile has recovered a fumble or whether the ball crossed the plain of the goal line, the system can also help coaches devise game strategies and adapt their game plans.
Of course, sport is no stranger to the benefits of tracking systems. The Hawkeye system has been used in international cricket since 2001, originally as an enhancement to television coverage, but since 2008 it has been incorporated into a referral system used by match officials to check calls made on the field of play. And from 2006, an adapted version of Hawkeye was introduced to professional tennis to help umpires and line judges determine whether a ball is in or out.
GPS technology has also become an integral part in the growing influence of sports science on training regimes. Pretty much every professional – as well as many amateur and college – team or athlete uses tracking systems to get detailed and accurate fitness feedback. The technology gives coaches the chance to measure variables such as heart rates, distance covered or top speeds reached both in real time and retrospectively, enabling them to monitor performances and change workloads accordingly.