Ghost goal in Hoffenheim vs. Leverkusen sparks debate for referees to possibly wear Google Glasses


Stefan Kiessling of Bayer Leverkusen scored one of the strangest goals in football with a header that went through the side netting.

Playing against Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga, Leverkusen’s Germany international Kiessling headed a corner wide of the near post, and could be seen turning away in frustration before Brych awarded the goal. The ball continued its trajectory through a hole in the side netting, unseen by almost everyone, eventually settling inside the goals. Whether the hole in the net was there prior, or whether the ball snapped the side netting lattice, is not clear.

Leverkusen’s players celebrated the goal and even Hoffenheim’s defenders looked dejected as they thought it was a valid goal. Replays clearly showed the contrary. Stefan Kiessling failed to admit — or was confused despite a centre circle consultation with the match referee — that his header had flown wide.

German Bundesliga match, Hoffenheim vs. Leverkusen
The ball about to enter the side netting in the German Bundesliga match, Hoffenheim vs. Leverkusen

Fifa Referee Dr. Felix Brych stood by his initial decision to award the goal, much to the (eventual) dismay and shock of Hoffenheim’s players and staff. Hoffenheim slipped to a 1-2 home defeat and the result propelled Leverkusen to the top spot in the Bundesliga.

Here is the VIDEO CLIP of the incident:

Subsequent to this referee error, Bundesliga referees’ chief Andreas Rettig kick-started a debate that German officials in the future might wear glasses in the Bundesliga. However, Rettig is not proposing eye tests for the men in the middle, but the donning of Google Glasses to allow officials instantaneous on-field access to video replays before making a decision in order to help cut out referee mistakes.

Rettig is encouraging the use of available technology to help make life easier on the field and he thinks the futuristic technology – or a variant of it – would be ideal for helping officials with their decision making.

Bespectacled match officials could become the norm if German Bundesliga referee’s chief Andreas Rettig gets his way
Bespectacled match officials could become the norm if German Bundesliga referee’s chief Andreas Rettig gets his way

“Basically, we are always open to new technological innovations, but it is also clear that we need to address the fundamental decisions more carefully.

 “[We should think about] computer glasses for referees, such as Google Glass. When we think about technical progress, then we must take the next step to discuss whether the referee could wear glasses to see what everyone sees viewers on the couch. There a strong argument against the video evidence, namely that the referee’s authority on the pitch would no longer be overriding. But if the referee [when reviewing incidents on Google Glass] was not relying on anyone or anything external, then he could accurately assess the scene immediately.”

Google Glass is a wearable computer that looks like a pair of spectacles, with an optical head-mounted display that allows wearers to access real-time information displayed in front of their eyes.

“Glass” is a kind of projector that projects a visual layer over reality (augmented reality) directly onto the wearer’s retina and it will, according to internet search engine giant Google, become commercially available to the general public in 2014.

The main element is a semi-transparent prism. Google Glass is a technical masterpiece of innovation as it combines a video camera, phone, microphone, a central processor and even a GPS chip (Global Positioning Satellite), all housed in a very small frame.

Google Glass might not be used for a replay on every foul, or on a player’s appeal for a penalty, but it might help officials on such incidents as violent conduct. By simply swiping his finger along the rim on the housing casing, the wearer can control the video-taping and replay of such incidents very quickly. With such technology, the referee could himself request a replay to see if a punch was actually thrown, as it is at times difficult for officials to ascertain all the culprits in a big fighting melee.

Ground rules for the use of such aids onfield will be laid down by IFAB, the International Football Association Board, task with all rule changes, as they have done for specific tournaments and goal line technology.

FIFA has already announced that German company GoalControl GmbH  will be the goalline technology (GLT) provider for the 2014 Brazilian World Cup finals following a successful trial at the Confederations Cup in 2013. Prior to the start of every game, the match officials will also carry out their own tests on such equipment, in-line with the operational procedures approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

GoalControl demonstrating the near instantaneous decisions of their technology

GLT will be the forerunner as a technological aid for football officials and it probably would have spotted the above mistake in the Bundesliga match. Whether future aids (e.g. Google Glass)  might be utilized to assist referees in quicker and accurate decisions on-field as mentioned by Andreas Rettig, only time will tell.

However, all future change, as with the existing uptake of goal line technology,  started with a debate. And the debate has started anew.

Google’s co-creator, billionaire Sergey Brin, showcasing the revolutionary Google Glass in 2012
Google’s co-creator, billionaire Sergey Brin, showcasing the revolutionary Google Glass in 2012