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The End of Disputed Goals?

RFID may be just the thing to insure the accuracy of sports calls.
By Jonathan Collins
Dec 01, 2005—During the 1966 FIFA World Cup final in Britain, England was awarded a goal against Germany when the football ricocheted off the crossbar. Germany said the ball never crossed the goal line, but the linesman ruled it a goal. England went on to win the match and the trophy. Fans on both sides still argue the call. Forty years later, FIFA, the governing body of international football (soccer), hopes to end such controversies by using RFID technology to determine whether a goal has been scored.

FIFA is testing an RFID system developed by RFID specialists Cairos, sports apparel company Adidas and the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a German state- and industry-sponsored technical research organization.

The system uses up to 12 interrogators (readers) that can detect from up to 300 meters (985 feet) an active RFID transponder about the size of a coin inside the ball and track its position in real time. The transponder emits a 2.4 GHz signal 2,000 times a second. Three or more interrogators receive the signal and pass the exact time the signal was received to software, which uses triangulation to calculate the exact location of the ball at any moment.

The system was tested at the Under-17 World Championship held in Peru in October. FIFA says the goal-line technology has a future but needs some improvements before the organization can sanction its use in the World Cup.

The next technology trial is set for December in Japan. If it's successful, RFID could be used at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Given the ongoing dispute over the 1966 goal in England, there couldn't be a more welcoming home crowd for RFID's World Cup debut.
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