NEW YORK — Major League Soccer will implement goal-line technology quickly if it is approved in July by the sport’s rules-making body.
“We’re interested in being a test league and we hope that we could achieve that,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Thursday while speaking to the Associated Press Sports Editors. “I would be open to whatever it is that could be done to ensure that we have goal-line technology.”
The International Football Association Board meets July 2 and could approve Sony Corp.’s Hawk-Eye or GoalRef, owned by a German-Danish company. Following a series of erroneous calls in high-profile games ranging from the 2010 World Cup to this year’s FA Cup, there could be more support for goal-line technology among tradition-bound soccer officials.
Hawk-Eye is a camera-based ball-tracking system used in tennis and cricket. GoalRef employs a magnetic field with a special ball. Both could be approved.
Each system sends a signal within a second of the ball crossing the line to the referee, who makes the final decision.
If approval is granted in July, Garber said, MLS could implement the technology at some point during this season, which began in March. The Premier League hopes to use it for its 2012-13 season, which starts in August.
“There’s a lot more that we need to learn about it, understanding the process,” Garber said. “The bottom line here is that I would be open to using goal-line technology as soon as it is made available.”
Garber also said MLS was interested in Spanish forward Raul Gonzalez, who said Thursday he would leave European soccer when his two-year contract with Schalke expires at the end of the season. Raul, who turns 35 in June, has not said whether he prefers MLS to clubs in Asia.
Garber said the league remained focused on placing its 20th team in the New York area, with talks for a stadium taking precedent over the ownership group. He said there are several groups interested and there would be an “auction-like” process.
Beyond that, other markets that interest the league in expansion beyond 20 teams include Miami, Orlando, the Southwest and Atlanta.
With the addition of Montreal this year, average attendance in the league is 19,493 through 53 games, up 12 percent from 17,370 at this point last year. Television ratings are down 18 percent on ESPN and ESPN2 through three telecasts but the new package on NBC Sports Network has averaged 106,000 viewers for six telecasts, up 56 percent from last year on Fox Soccer Channel, which has a smaller distribution.