FIFA World Cup's high-tech ball just invalidated Ronaldo's 'record-breaking' goal

The soccer star had claimed his head brushed the ball in Portugal's opening goal against Uruguay.
Baba Tamim
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal attempts to head the ball as Bruno Fernandes (not pictured) scores their team's first goal during Portugal-Uruguay match, in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal attempts to head the ball as Bruno Fernandes (not pictured) scores their team's first goal during Portugal-Uruguay match, in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

Justin Setterfield/Getty Images 

FIFA has now provided an explanation for why Portugal's opening goal against Uruguay was not awarded to five-time Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 37-year-old, the world's most recognized soccer player, claimed his head brushed the ball during the opening goal against the opponents in Monday's encounter of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

"In the match between Portugal and Uruguay, using the Connected Ball Technology housed in Adidas's Al Rihla Official Match Ball, we are able to definitively show no contact on the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo for the opening goal in the game," read a FIFA statement sent to various media outlets on Tuesday. 

"No external force on the ball could be measured as shown by the lack of 'heartbeat' in the measurements. The 500Hz IMU sensor inside the ball allows for a high level of accuracy in the analysis."

How did it happen? 

Ronaldo looked to receive a cross from Bruno Fernandes, who then appeared to flick the ball off his head and into the "record-breaking" goal. In what is likely to be his final World Cup, he claimed the goal and wheeled off in celebration.

Confusingly, though, the Lusali Stadium announcer had given Fernandes the goal while FIFA officially awarded Ronaldo the goal. 

FIFA later changed its decision and awarded the goal to Fernandes, Portugal, and Manchester United's attacking midfielder.

However, after being named Player of the Match, Fernandes acknowledged that even he was confused about who scored the goal.

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"I celebrated [the goal] as if it had been Cristiano's goal," Fernandes said in his postmatch interview. "It seemed to me that he had touched the ball. My aim was to cross the ball for him."

"We are happy with the victory regardless of who scored. The most important thing is that we achieved our aim, which is to be in the next round," he added. 

Technology offers fairer play

FIFA World Cup's high-tech ball just invalidated Ronaldo's 'record-breaking' goal
Inside the Connected Ball Technology by Adidas.

In March 2022, FIFA revealed Al Rihla, the official ball for the World Cup in Qatar. 

With the help of cutting-edge sensing technology and VAR 2.0, it is the fastest, most precision-driven football the world has ever seen, capable of making decisions on the largest sporting stages with greater speed and accuracy.

The technology automatically provides accurate information, 500 times per second, on when a player has touched the ball, aiding in detecting confusing touches and information about tough offside calls, ultimately improving the accuracy and speed of VAR decision-making.

"And these [points] are measured with greater precision than the camera or the VAR's optical tracking system," Professor Ronny Ibrahim, from Qatar University, previously told Interesting Engineering (IE).

"Every second, this ball transmits 500 points to the video referee, so 500 measurements, and that's super..., super accurate."

Since the beginning of the game, human errors have added both entertainment and sadness to soccer matches. Some mistakes even resulted in nations losing World Cups.

"I believe technology is effective, not harmful to sports. I see it as making sports fairer," Ibrahim told IE.

"We cannot claim that it is completely correct. Of course, it's not even 99% exact, but it's as close as possible given current technology advancement."

The recent statement by the football federation may calm the nerves of football fans who were perplexed by the decision reversal during the Portugal-Uruguay match. However, more needs to be done to make the technological grasp of the audience obvious.

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