FIFA boots chip ball from 2006 soccer World Cup

New chip-enabled soccer ball will not be used at the tournament in Germany next year

Here's one decision that players may be happy about: The world soccer body FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) has decided that a new chip-enabled soccer ball will not be used at the World Cup soccer tournament in Germany next year.

The ball will also not be used in the FIFA Club World Championship games in Tokyo this December, the association said Monday in a joint statement with German sportswear manufacturer Adidas-Salomon, which will supply the official game balls at both tournaments.

"The technology isn't perfect yet," said Adidas spokesman Jan Runau. "We're still working on it. We have to be 1,000 percent certain that it works perfectly before we can deploy it in professional soccer games."

Engineers working on the smart ball had hoped the technology would be ready for the World Cup tournament next year.

In October, Günter Rohmer, director of performance-optimized systems at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Erlangen, Germany, said the technology had been tested at the main soccer stadium in Nuremberg for several months and more recently in an under-17 FIFA tournament in Peru. "The technology has performed well, and we're pretty optimistic that it will be used at the games in Germany next year," Rohmer said at the time.

In their joint statement, FIFA and Adidas said they decided to "focus on the further development and testing of the system before using it at tournaments on the highest profession level."

Runau declined to say when the smart ball will be ready for professional use.

The chip-enabled soccer ball is being developed by Adidas, together with the Fraunhofer Institute and software company Cairos Technologies.

The technology is based on an ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) chip with an integrated transmitter to send data. The chip, suspended in the middle of the ball to survive acceleration and hard kicks, sends a radio signal to the referee's watch in less than a second of the ball crossing the goal line.

Similar chips, but smaller and flatter, have been designed to insert into players' shin guards, he said.

At the Nuremberg stadium, 12 antennas in light masts and other locations distributed around the arena collect data transmitted from the chips. The antennas are linked to a high-speed fiber optic ring, which routes data to a cluster of Linux-based servers.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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