FIFA rules out ref aids for World Cup

CAPE TOWN: World governing body FIFA on Wednesday ruled out the introduction of both video technology and goal-line assistant referees at next summer’s World Cup in South Africa .FIFA chief Sepp Blatter said that the question of adding two officials to keep an eye on action in and around the critical penalty box area had been discussed at an extraordinary meeting of the FIFA executive committee, but it had been decided to stick with the existing system.

“We have decided that for World Cup 2010, there will be no change in refereeing. We will still have one referee and two assistants,” Blatter said.

The meeting also ruled out the introduction of video technology to assist referees similar to the system used in rugby, cricket and tennis.

The decision follows the furore that followed Thierry Henry’s blatant handball in a World Cup play-off against Ireland last month that saw the French qualify for the finals.

The infringement was clearly seen by players close to the Barcelona striker when he crossed for William Gallas to score and it was evident from TV replays of the action, but the Swedish referee failed to notice it.

Worldwide indignation over the injustice piled the pressure on FIFA and Blatter called the extraordinary executive committee meeting to discuss the matter here ahead of today’s World Cup draw.

But while he said that changes to the system had been discussed, it had been decided that with just six months to go before the World Cup kicks off in South Africa, now was not the time to do so.

“We are at a crossing in the road with what direction to go with the referees in the future because the game is so tense that it is impossible for one referee to see everything,” Blatter said.

“Shall it be better to have more referees or assistants like in the Europa League experiment we have this year or to have more technology?  — AFP

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