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2016-07-06 12:38:00 CET

Gstaad Major’s trust in Hawk-Eye

Technology helping referees and players improve

Hawk-Eye was used at the smart Major Hamburg. Photocredit: Mike RanzHawk-Eye was used at the smart Major Hamburg. Photocredit: Mike Ranz

Arguing with referees on the sand will soon be a thing of the past…all thanks to technology!

This week’s Gstaad Major is the fifth tournament on the FIVB World Tour to trial the Hawk-Eye system to assist referees in making important decisions on the court.

Developed in the UK back in 2001, the Hawk-Eye has been in use at four previous beach volleyball competitions in the past 12 months – including the smart Major Hamburg in May.

The system will be used, for the first time ever in the sport, at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer – and the verdict of players, officials and referees is glowing.

Hawk-Eye is being embraced by everybody in beach volleyball, says FIVB Refereeing Commissioner José Casanova.

“We want the game to be as accurate as possible,” José, who has been with the FIVB for 16 years, told us. “We use Hawk-Eye to see those decisions which are impossible to see with the human eye, such as close line calls and the tiniest of block touches.

“It’s all part of the technological innovation that the FIVB is leading to help improve the support.”

The system is being used on Center Court here in Gstaad, where each team receive two challenges per set. If a challenge is successful they ‘keep’ the challenge.

José showed us the statistics from the smart Major Hamburg: of the 21 matches in which Hawk-Eye was used on the Center Court there were 24 challenges. Only five were deemed successful, meaning almost 80 per cent of the time referees where right a challenge was made.

“I would say 99 per cent of the time referees’ calls are right overall,” believes José. “From the meetings we’ve had, and from what we perceive on court, the players are much more relaxed. Now they don’t directly fight with the referee. They trust the system; they trust the referee. It’s these borderline situations where the human eye cannot catch that helps the referee. The system works for the referees, not against them – and it is in favor of the sport.

“We are all humans after all.”

This tight line call was deemed out – backing the referee’s decision.This tight line call was deemed out – backing the referee’s decision.

But what do the referees themselves think?

American referee Dan Apol, who has 24 years of experience overseeing volleyball matches, says Hawk-Eye gives him more confidence.

“I think it’s a wonderful tool,” says Dan, who will go to his second Olympics this summer. “It helps us out in so many situations and reduces the stress for the players and referees.

“It feels great, there’s less pressure and gives us referees confidence. In the past there have been some stressful times but that is much less now and I think it can only do good things for the sport.

“Block touches are difficult because there are occasions when you simply can’t see through the ball. Now we don’t miss them anymore.

“But it’s always a good feeling to see a challenge go in our favor because it shows we got it right first time – and that helps confidence for sure.”

The system is already in full swing at the Gstaadium.

“This morning we have had cases in which we thought there could be a case for a challenge but were not taken,” continues José. “There was no challenge from the players but when we viewed the footage it turned out the referees were right.

“It goes to show how much it will benefit officials, referees and players.

“Less pressure, less stress and more trust.”

And that sounds good to us!

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