No goal line technology for Major League Soccer in 2013

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TUCSON, Ariz. – Major League Soccer is bullish on the new goal line technology, now slowly being introduced to the game, that can remove one element of potential match controversy.

Upon FIFA approval of the high-tech science that can remove all doubt, in real time, about whether a ball has fully crossed the goal line, MLS commissioner Don Garber talked about wanting to get on board as quickly as possible, with 2013 as the initial target.

But Nelson Rodriguez, the league’s executive vice president of competition, told me Wednesday night that it won’t happen in 2013.

Further, because Rodriguez believes the league requires six months to implement the new technology, he said MLS probably needs FIFA approval by late this summer or 2014 implementation would be in jeopardy, too.

Rodriguez was in Tucson for the Desert Diamond Cup, a preseason tournament with four MLS clubs.

He said the league has not lost a bit of interest and will be as aggressive as possible, never mind cost that promise to be considerable. The stumbling blocks are mostly procedural and above MLS level. FIFA’s deliberate approach to spreading the technology – used for the first time last December during the Club World Cup – is the issue.

Two independent systems have gained official FIFA sanction, one is chip-based and one is camera-based. Both were employed during the high-profile 10-day club tournament in Japan two months ago.

Only two companies are presently authorized to build those systems, Rodriguez explained. Plus, one of two designated FIFA officials must be present at installation for each venue, a fairly cumbersome and time-consuming process to coordinate across such a large country.

And Major League Soccer isn’t the only league interested in the top standard of goal line officiating; It does not sound like Major League Soccer is near the top of FIFA’s list for getting the technology going here.

Considering FIFA’s dawdling and delay in getting the system up and operating, none of this can be considered much of a surprise.