NFL in discussions about using chip-in-ball technology

Tue Aug 3, 2010 8:27am EDT
 

By Patrick Johnston

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The National Football League (NFL) are in discussions about employing chip-in-ball technology to help rule on contentious touchdown and first down calls, German manufacturer Cairos Technologies has told Reuters.

"Yes, we are talking. There is a demand in American Football," Cairos sales director Mario Hanus told Reuters in a recent interview on the sidelines of the Soccerex Asian forum in Singapore.

The NFL would not deny or confirm the talks. However, a spokesman for the league said on Tuesday that they are looking at expanding their use of technology.

"We are always exploring ways in which we can be innovative with technology to improve our game and our fans enjoyment of the game," spokesman Michael Signora said.

Currently NFL team coaches are able to use video replays to challenge two contentious calls a game.

Cairos have been bidding to have their technology used in soccer to help rule on dubious goals when there is doubt about the ball crossing the goalline.

The debate was re-ignited during the World Cup in South Africa after a shot from England midfielder Frank Lampard, in a second round match against Germany on June 27, landed a meter over the goalline after hitting the bar but was not spotted by the referee or his assistant.

So far soccer lawmakers, the International Football Association Board, have rejected the use of the technology leading Cairos to look at other sports who could use their expertise.

"There are other sports more open to the topic maybe than soccer at this time but the requirements are different and the development was in first placed to solve that particular issue (in soccer)," Hanus said.

However, he said that the technology could easily be adapted to rule on debatable first down decisions, especially when a scrum of players block the view of the officials.

"In American Football you have the same situation, you need to cross a line and the ball needs to be over the line 100 percent and they (the players) are always above the ball (covering it)."

Hanus demonstrated the technology which uses a soccer ball, made by German sporting goods company Adidas, capable of holding a small chip in the center and, should it fully cross the goalline, would send an alert to an officials' watch.

Cairos say their system, which they have been working on for nearly a decade, is not as expensive as many forecast and would prove cheaper than soccer employing two additional referees in matches, as they will use for some European games this season.

(Editing by Justin Palmer)