A few thoughts about Major League Soccer and goal-line technology

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FIFA inched closer to getting goal-line technology as the International Football Association Board (IFAB) voted in favor of both the GoalRef and Hawk-Eye systems. The plan calls for a debut at the Club World Cup in December, with individual leagues and competitions being able to decide if they want to use the technology or not going forward.

What does it mean for MLS, a vocal supporter of goal-line technology?

In June, I spoke with Nelson Rodriguez, EVP of Competition and Game Operations, about plans for the future. (Ironically, Ukraine scored the now-famous non-goal goal while we were talking.)

Rodriguez reiterated that MLS wants to get involved. “We’re very comfortable being at the forefront and being a leader in this area,” he said.

There are, however, issues with how quickly one of the systems can be implemented. If MLS decides to go with Hawk-Eye — similar to what the company uses at tennis matches — can the camera manufacturer produce enough cameras in time? If GoalRef is the choice, does the chip technology they use jive with the agreement MLS has with adidas to provide the balls?

And then there’s the money: “There’s a cost factor,” Rodriguez said, indicating that MLS would bear the financial responsibility for installing the technology. “When you have 18 venues, that starts to matter.”

That’s not on insignificant amount of cash, either. A Daily Mail story put the cost for Hawk-Eye around $375,000 per stadium with Goal-Ref being “significantly lower,” but still, well, significant.

That said, goal-line technology is coming to MLS, albeit in a responsible manner.

“We are open-minded and fairly committed to doing something along these lines, but we won’t do it until we are convinced that we can institute it in a way that will prove to be successful and equitable,” he said. “We can’t have a system that’s only in half our venues.”

Translation: Think sooner rather than later, but perhaps not immediately.