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NFL looks at chip-in-ball technology

The NFL is in discussions about employing a new technology to help rule on touchdowns and first-down calls.

SINGAPORE // The NFL is in discussions about employing chip-in-ball technology to help rule on touchdowns and first-down calls, Cairos Technologies, the German manufacturer, said. "Yes, we are talking. There is a demand in American football," Mario Hanus, a Cairos sales director, said in an interview on the sidelines of the Soccerex Asian forum. The NFL would not deny or confirm the talks. However, a spokesman for the league said yesterday that it is looking at expanding its use of technology. "We are always exploring ways in which we can be innovative with technology to improve our game and our fans' enjoyment of the game," Michael Signora said.

Currently, NFL coaches are able to use video replays to challenge two calls per game. Cairos has also been bidding to have its technology used in soccer to help rule on dubious goals when there is doubt about the ball crossing the goal line. The debate was re-ignited during the World Cup. A shot during a second-round match against Germany by Frank Lampard, the England midfielder, landed a metre over the goal line after hitting the bar but was not spotted by the referee or his assistant.

Soccer lawmakers have so far rejected the use of the technology. "There are other sports more open to the topic, maybe, than soccer at this time," Hanus said, "but the requirements are different and the development was in first placed to solve that particular issue" in soccer. However, he said that the technology could easily be adapted to rule on debatable first-down decisions, especially when a scrum of players blocked the view of the officials. A chip inside the ball would send an alert to the referee's watch.

"In American football you have the same situation: you need to cross a line and the ball needs to be over the line 100 per cent and [players] are always above the ball, covering it," Hanus said. * Reuters