The English Premier League had hoped to have high-tech aids for referees in place by August 2012, but tests with about nine systems are only now about to start in stadiums across Europe on non-match days. The International Football Association Board, which met on Tuesday, will not be able to approve any of the systems for use in professional matches until July.
“I think that’ll be too late for season ’12-13,” IFAB member and English Football Association general secretary Alex Horne said. “I think it’ll be ’13-14 because there’s then a big capital decision-making process for any league or any competition who want to apply it.
“Do you have one technology for a competition, do you have multiple technologies for multiple competitions? There are big, big decisions for competitions to take.”
Nine systems were previously tested at FIFA headquarters before the last annual IFAB meeting in March, but some manufacturers were unhappy that they were not in stadium conditions and the accuracy of the results was not deemed to be acceptable.
The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology will oversee the new wave of tests.
“There’s a phase of testing that will run up until March that will establish in basic principles whether technology can actually achieve reasonable accuracy — 90 percent, 99 percent, maybe 100 percent,” Horne said at the Leaders in Football conference. “It’s happening live in stadia all around Europe. They can simulate light, they can simulate dark, they can simulate balls rolling across the line, balls being fired in from all different angles.
“Once they’ve established that, there’ll be a second phase of testing against similar conditions, I believe … if we can be clearly convinced that the technology all works under those conditions then that’s good enough.”
Hawk-Eye, the Sony-owned company whose ball-tracking technology is used in tennis and cricket, is seen as a front-runner. But Horne said he hopes there will be competing systems that leagues and competitions can eventually chose from.
“Eight or nine are testing at the moment,” he said. “If they’re all successful, they’re all valid. There’s not going to be one technology for all of world football.
“Multiple technologies, if they meet the criteria, will be available then to go into the market and people will buy. IFAB will license them as successful products and other products could join in later if they can reach the standards. It’ll be a market competition.”
The IFAB panel is composed of four FIFA officials and the four British associations, with six votes required passing a motion.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter reversed his opposition to tests after England was denied a goal in its second-round loss to Germany at last year’s World Cup.
Blatter has said the technology could be in place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, though that plan will likely be opposed by UEFA president Michel Platini. The former France great said he favours employing additional assistant referees beside each goal.