Goal Line Technology is set to be unveiled at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan with New Zealand's leading referee, Peter O’Leary, in line to benefit from it. Project agreements between FIFA and the GLT providers Hawk-Eye Innovations and Fraunhofer IIS (GoalRef) were signed this week, paving the way for the final stages of implementation to be completed.
O'Leary is making his fifth visit to the FIFA Club World Cup after appearances in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 which is testament to his longevity on the world stage having officiated at eight FIFA events in total including U-17 and U-20 World Cups, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa where he was a fourth official. The Whangarei-based school teacher was the man in the middle for Uruguay's win over United Arab Emirates at the 2012 London Olympic Games. "I love football and I love refereeing and I'll keep doing it until I'm asked to stop. It's an honour and a privilege to be appointed to any FIFA tournament, and I’m thankful I've been able to go to a few," said O'Leary. He was among 52 people hailing from 46 different countries vying for a place among the list of officials for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and was selected to take part in the initial referee workshop in Zurich this September. The FIFA Club World Cup is the first event since that workshop with O'Leary, Mark Rule and Fiji's Ravinesh Kumar completing the Oceania trio at the event, with their immediate goal to get an opportunity to officiate on the pitch. "I always try and walk before I can run, and take it one game at a time. We do our best for that one game and maybe we can get another one," said O’Leary. Modern technology plays a big part in O'Leary's preparation with the internet getting a workout before his departure to any appointment. "I'm always trying to improve and look at trends that are happening in the game and reflect on what is happening overseas. It's a big part of our preparation now; we're more prepared in what we can expect". O'Leary supplements his learning by speaking to his peers on arrival in the venues on the teams he will officiate. "Speaking with referees from other confederations is extremely useful. I've had occasions where they will share a trend that is happening overseas to look out for. It used to take a year before it got down to Oceania but that timeframe is getting shorter and shorter." GLT is now just two steps away in Yokohama, where the magnetic field based system of GoalRef will be used. In Toyota, Hawk-Eye will install its camera-based technology. The next core phase in the pre-competition process is the installation tests which will be conducted once again by the Swiss independent test institute EMPA (the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology). The Local Organising Committee and the two stadium owners facilitated inspection site visits by both GLT companies in September. The final installation test aims to establish the perfect functionality of the system by certifying that the technology performs to the same level once installed in a given stadium, as it did during the system test. Only once the systems pass the installation test, will FIFA give the 'green light' for the respective systems to be used in the eight matches of the competition, featuring the club champion from each of FIFA's six confederations, and the domestic J-League champion. The final, intrinsic element in the implementation of GLT system is a pre-match check by the match-officials. The match officials are obliged to check the functionality of the GLT system by means of specific tests in both goals, ensuring the system is fully functioning before the first whistle blows. Crucially, the referee will continue, in line with Law 5 of the Laws of the Game, to have full autonomy in making any final decision during the match, using GLT as an additional aid, something that O'Leary supports. "I think anything that is going to help the referee is a good thing, as long it doesn't intrude on the flow of the game," said O'Leary.