Bruno Fernandes or Cristiano Ronaldo: whose goal was it anyway?

A sensor on a ball that can transmit data at a rate of 500 times per second. It also helps detect an accurate kick point.

That’s the kind of data FIFA gets from this World Cup being held in Qatar. Called Al Rihla (the journey, in Arabic), the Adidas ball comes with a unit of inertia measurement (IMU) sensor that also helps make tight offside calls. The sensor, which is placed in the center of the ball, constantly sends data to the video operating room.

This is truly World Cup technology. And it was this technology that decided it was Bruno Fernandes and not Cristiano Ronaldo who scored Portugal’s opening goal against Uruguay on Monday night.

” id=”yt-wrapper-box” >

Fernandes crossed the ball from the left side of the field and Ronaldo jumped the highest as the ball went into the goal. He celebrated wildly because the goal, had it stood, would have put him level former Real Madrid with Eusebio as Portugal’s highest goalscorer in World Cups. He is also said to have surpassed Lionel Messi in their race for more World Cup goals.

However, replays later showed that Ronaldo had just missed touching the ball.

Announcers at the stadium credited the goal to Fernandes, while Ronaldo was credited as the goalscorer on the official scorecard. The score was later confirmed and the goal was officially given to Fernandes.

As with anything concerning Ronaldo, endless debate raged on social media.
Some, including Piers Morgan, to whom Ronaldo gave an interview that ended his second spell at Manchester United, said Ronaldo had clearly touched the ball. Most made fun of Ronaldo for celebrating a goal he didn’t score and for taking credit for it wrongly.

England cricketer Chris Woakes asked for a snicko – the sensor used in cricket to determine if the ball made contact with the ball – to determine if Ronaldo actually touched the ball.
β€œWhat does snicko say about that ‘Ronaldo’ goal? flat line I think,” he tweeted.

England footballer Gary Linekar, who directs BBC World Cup coverage, also took part and said he too would have claimed the goal.

While fan opinion may be divided, the sensors on the ball are believed to detect even the softest of touches.


Qatar’s stadiums have 12 tracking cameras under the roof that can “track up to 29 data points from each individual player, 50 times per second, and calculate their exact position on the pitch”. The data points include all limbs and extremities that will help make offside calls.

Players can know data points, such as the distance they travel on the field, through multiple cameras deployed in stadiums. A series of algorithms and models are used to integrate the tracking data. Players get detailed analysis, including receiving locations of the ball on the field and the pressure applied to the player in possession.

Replays from above, as well as numerous close-ups, tried to determine whether Ronaldo had managed to pull off the slightest touch after leading in Fernandes’ cross.

Ronaldo will have many more chances to write his name in even more records. Portugal is through to the Round of 16 and has their last group match against South Korea.

Leave a Comment