Perfect ball control – German goal-line technology at the 2014 World Cup
Goal or no goal? At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the referee will no longer have to make this decision alone in cases of doubt, but will be assisted by goal-line technology that has been developed in Germany. An interview with Dirk Broichhausen from GoalControl, the company that has played a large part in developing the technology.
Mr Broichhausen, what gave you the idea of getting involved in goal-line technology?
Dirk Broichhausen: I got the idea originally as a football fan. It was in April 2009 during a live broadcast of the German second-division game between 1860 Munich and 1. FC Kaiserslautern. There was a controversial incident just before the final whistle, when the ball hit the bar, arguably landed behind the goal line and then bounced back into play.
At the time, nobody could decide whether it was actually a goal – least of all the referee. Instead of a 2:1 win for Munich, the game ended undecided. I thought to myself that in this day and age, it must be possible to sort the problem out.
Why you in particular?
Dirk Broichhausen: I am fortunate enough to work for a company that's a market leader in automated quality control for industrial manufacturing, and has extensive image processing expertise. So I asked our chief engineer if our camera systems could be used to track a football as well. We then set about developing the technology.
What did you do next?
Dirk Broichhausen: We did a lot of experimentation. Ultimately what we developed was pure innovation. We even went down to our local football pitch in the evenings and at weekends to work on the project, pretty much in addition to our actual day jobs.
When FIFA once again issued an invitation to tender for the "Goal-line technology" project following the 2010 World Cup, we stepped up our efforts. And once we reached a certain stage, we gave them a financial and structural basis by founding the GoalControl GmbH company.
At the beginning of April 2013, I was away skiing in the Alps. FIFA rang up and told us we'd won the contract for the 2013 Confederations Cup. This was pretty much the first step towards winning the contract for the 2014 World Cup.
Were you surprised you'd beaten some other very well-known bidders?
Dirk Broichhausen: Well, I actually dropped my mobile in the snow! At that stage we had a lot of confidence in the system, but we were still seen as rank outsiders.
What does this success mean to your company?
Dirk Broichhausen: The World Cup is the most prestigious football competition in the world. GoalControl is sure to gain global recognition there. It will open up a huge market for us. In fact I'm convinced that the most important, richest football leagues in the world will sooner or later start using goal-line technology.
Even though the German football league has decided against introducing them once, technological aids will at some stage be used for football here in Germany. This development will be unstoppable in global football.
And who's going to win the World Cup?
Dirk Broichhausen: Germany or Brazil. Hopefully that will be decided in the final.
Background: How German goal-line technology works
The goal-line technology developed by GoalControl from Würselen bei Aachen is based on three-dimensional, millimetre-precise ball monitoring that works in all weathers. A total of 14 cameras are aimed at both goals from various different locations, and connected to a powerful computer. If the ball completely crosses the goal line, the referee receives a signal via a special watch. GoalControl's goal-line technology beat competing products from England and Germany, most of which are based on radio chips embedded within the ball.
Discussion on goal-line technology in the Community
Goal-line technology in football is controversial. Even FIFA only opted for it recently. What do you personally think about goal-line technology at the World Cup? Can it actually prevent incorrect decisions being made? And where else in football could technology be useful? Join in with the discussion. We look forward to receiving your contributions in our Community group ‘Digital Society’!