Motion expert says Garcia's shot did cross the line

Nick Harris, The Independent, 5 May 2005

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Liverpool's controversial winner against Chelsea on Tuesday crossed the line and was a valid goal, an expert in motion analysis and 3D shape modelling said yesterday.

Dr Mike Spann, a lecturer at Birmingham University's School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering, assessed a series of still images, taken from a variety of angles, at the moment of scoring and in the fractions of a second just before and after the ball crossed the line.

The positioning and body movements of Chelsea's William Gallas, who tried to clear Luis Garcia's shot with his right foot, as well as the movement of the ball relative to Gallas, led Dr Spann to conclude: "It was a goal."

The diameter of Tuesday's match ball, a size 5 Adidas Finale, was 22cm (or 8.8 inches) so Gallas' right boot needed to be only nine inches behind the line on impact for a goal. Dr Spann deduced from the position of Gallas' left foot that his right foot swung at the ball from "a good foot" behind the goalline, with the parabola before impact increasing the distance.

Dr Spann said it was theoretically possible to prove the goal with absolute certainty from television pictures, even if the cameras missed the right shot, but an analyst would need to know the precise calibration of the cameras as well as their exact positions to be certain using that method.

A Sky Sports computerised re-enactment suggested the ball failed to cross the line, while computer-generated images produced by Hawkeye and commissioned by ITV News last night indicated it may not have been a goal.

Such controversies will become history if a new Adidas ball, a "smartball", works in tests. It contains a microchip that notifies the referee when it crosses the line and will be tried out at the Under-17 World Youth Championships in Peru in September. If successful, it could be adopted in senior competitions within two years.

"I think the sky sports virtual reality reconstructions are complete gimmicks to be honest, and are not that accurate. How can they be sure of camera positions for starters!"

Dr Mike Spann, expert in motion analysis and 3D shape modelling

"I reacted on the basis of the reaction of the assistant referee, who in the given moment was the only one who could judge whether or not the ball was in the goal. It was certainly a difficult moment, but I am certain that it was a correct decision."

— Slovakian referee Lubos Michel

"I believe Chelsea would have preferred the goal to count rather than face a penalty with just ten men for the rest of the game. If my assistant referee had not signaled a goal, I would have given a penalty and sent off goalkeeper Peter Cech."

— Slovakian referee Lubos Michel

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