AFL 2024: Ball tracking for score reviews close to introduction

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The goal-umpiring howler that cost the Adelaide Crows a finals spot last year could soon be a thing of the past with ball-tracking testing increasing over the AFL pre-season with significant results.

League football boss Laura Kane confirmed that the technology had been tested at Marvel Stadium and club training sessions with microchipped footballs with hopes the system could be introduced into the premiership season sooner rather than later.

That introduction could begin with trials in state-league competitions or the AFL, with Kane declaring the league is confident in the technology having gone on a worldwide research tour and seeing it in use.

She said the AFL was now at a point of deciding how much in-game testing was needed to use it “in competition”.

“We’ve had a really good look around the world. We’ve had a look at both what they are using on their equivalent in different sports in goal-line technology and around the ground. We have focused on the goal-line technology and what that could look like,” she said on Wednesday.

“Ball tracking is going well. We had a trial at Marvel (Stadium) last week and tried it at another smaller venue to see how it interacts without all the concrete and the seats and both have worked tremendously well.

“We’ve had it in AFL men’s pre-season training over the last couple of months. Clubs have been using (microchipped balls) mixed in with their normal Sherrins and we’ll have a look whether state league or AFLW or VFLW is the best way to go with introducing that technology.”

Kane said the system was designed so that anything that impacted the flight of the ball could be detected, including whether it hits a goalpost when it crosses the line.

In round 23 last season, Adelaide’s Ben Keays was denied a miraculous goal from the boundary line in his team’s one-point loss to Sydney after a goal umpire adjudged it hit the post and didn’t call for a goal review.

Replays showed it was a goal, and with the new technology, that error would be picked up.

“In terms of score review, it centres around what the ball touches and what lines it crosses,” Kane told SEN.

“It’s quite good in terms of tracking when the ball crosses the line and if anything has happened to the ball when it crosses the line, say a slight finger or a post brush, it can pick that up.

“The technology is instant and tells our officials what’s happened.

“We just need to work out how much testing we need to do to be confident to use that technology in officiating. We have already used it in a data collection from a game analysis perspective.”

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