By the Blouin News Sports staff

Soccer organizers weighing the cost of technology

by in Soccer.

A FIFA official displays new goal-line technology, developed by GoalRef. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

A FIFA official displays new goal-line technology, developed by GoalRef. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Four goal-line technology systems have been approved by FIFA for its leagues to deploy, but the costs of implementing them league-wide might prove to be too costly for some leagues.

Ultimately, league decisionmakers are weighing whether the millions of dollars it would cost to dispatch the system league-wide would be worth it for the few times it proves useful. And as recently as this week, one league has already decided the budget of their league wouldn’t allow it: the U.S.’s Major League Soccer.

In an interview with the Associated Press, MLS commissioner Don Garber said the technology was too expensive and that while he was a proponent for the use of it, they didn’t need to be one of the first domestic leagues to use it. “It had us take a step back and pause and try to figure out is the value of having goal-line technology worth investing millions and millions and millions of dollars for the handful of moments where it’s relevant,” Garber said.

The technology that will be used during the FIFA World Cup in 2014 in Brazil, the GoalControl-4D system, would cost roughly $260,000 per stadium to install, and on top of that, it would cost another $3,900 per game to operate. That would cost roughly $4.94 million for MLS’s 19 clubs to install and then another $1.26 million for covering each clubs per-game expenses. So the inaugural season of implementing the tech would cost over six million dollars for Major League Soccer.

A more financially sound European league has decided recently to go ahead with the use of technology. Starting next season, the English Premier League will install the Hawk-Eye system, becoming the first domestic league to use the technology. Hawk-Eye is similar to GoalControl-4D’s system in that it uses a series of cameras on the goal to detect if the ball crosses the line as compared to FIFA’s other two approved systems, GoalRef and Cairos, which use magnetic fields to do so.

Major League Soccer isn’t the only organizer to hesitate on implementation. The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which organizes competitions such as the Champions League and Europa League, is planning to move forward without the use of technology. Though UEFA President Michael Platini has cited concerns over both the price of implementation as well as his overall opinion on the use of it.

“Every organizer has a choice to decide which system they want to have. I personally don’t support the goal-line technology because if you introduce it then you’ll need to go on with the offside-line technology, the corner-line technology, the penalty-line technology etc.”, said Platini in an interview with the RT Network. Furthermore, Platini expressed that it would also be costly: 53 million euros over five years being his estimate.

The cost/benefit analysis seems stark at the moment, as there are only a handful of instances in a game when a blown call occurs. But it seems inevitable that, after years of debate on including technology in soccer at all, it will only be a few more years before it’s accepted universally — regardless of cost.