FIFA says bionic ball a big hit in Japan

TOKYO Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:51am GMT

The new chip-in-ball model is displayed during a news conference in Yokohama, south of Tokyo December 13, 2007. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

The new chip-in-ball model is displayed during a news conference in Yokohama, south of Tokyo December 13, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

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TOKYO (Reuters) - A new "bionic ball" being tested at the Club World Cup in Japan could soon be a regular feature at FIFA tournaments, its developers said on Thursday.

The technology, involving magnetic sensors that determine if the micro-chipped ball has crossed the goal line, has worked well so far, according to co-designers adidas and Cairos.

The developers added that feedback from the players at the seven-team competition had been positive.

"We are very satisfied," adidas's chief of FIFA Affairs Gunter Pfau told a news conference in Tokyo to demonstrate the ball's qualities. "No ball was damaged. All the systems have worked."

An implanted microchip sends an instant signal to the referee's wristwatch to indicate if the whole of the ball has crossed the line.

FIFA hope the breakthrough will eliminate controversy and want to use the technology at the 2010 World Cup if the prototype proves 100 percent reliable.

Earlier difficulties with chips becoming loose have been addressed, adidas said, adding that the ball was stress-tested to seven times the force of gravity.

Arguments over whether the ball has crossed the goal line have raged for years, Geoff Hurst's disputed goal for England in the 1966 World Cup final against Germany arguably the most famous example.

Hurst smashed a shot against the crossbar and the ball bounced downwards. It was unclear if it had crossed the line but the referee awarded a goal after consulting his linesman.

England won the game 4-2 but many German fans still debate the validity of Hurst's goal.

"We're not trying to change history," Pfau said, using a photograph of Hurst's goal in his demonstration. "This technology is for more transparency and to support the referee in making more accurate decisions."

(Editing by Ossian Shine)

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