JOHANNESBURG - The furore over refereeing
mistakes at the World Cup forced FIFA president Sepp Blatter
into an about-turn on Tuesday, reopening the debate on the use
of goalline technology.
The 74-year-old Swiss president of world football's governing
body, who apologised on Tuesday for the errors made by referees
this week, has been a stubborn opponent of technology for years.
He effectively closed the door on further discussions about
it three months ago at the annual meeting of football's law-making
body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
Although he has again ruled out using video replays to help
officials with decisions, such as offsides, he said technology
such as the Hawk-Eye system used in tennis and cricket should be
re-examined to determine if the ball had crossed the line or not
for a goal.
"It is obvious that after the experiences so far at this
World Cup it would be a nonsense not to reopen the file on
goalline technology," Blatter said at a briefing with selected
media on Tuesday.
He was referring specifically to the incident in Sunday's
England-Germany match at Bloemfontein when a shot from England
midfielder Frank Lampard struck the bar and bounced down well
over the line when England, chasing a comeback, were 2-1 down.
The goal was not given and Germany went on to win the second
round match 4-1.
Although there was a second controversial incident later in
the day when Argentina scored from an offside position against
Mexico in a match they won 3-1, Blatter emphasised no technology
would be debated relating to video evidence for offsides.
He said: "We will look again at technology, goalline
technology, at the business meeting of the International
Football Association Board in Cardiff, Wales in July.
"The only principle we are going to bring back for
discussion is goalline technology. For situations like the
Mexico game you don't need technology."
Paul Hawkins, whose Hawk-Eye Innovations company of
Winchester, England, developed the system, was keeping an open
mind about Blatter's comments.
Hawkins told Reuters: "Mr Blatter has said this before and
there have been other changes of mind. All he said is that they
will reopen the discussion, they haven't said they will change
"If they're serious about this then they'll contact us and
we'll just wait to find out whether this is just a little
statement to defuse the current public pressure.
"I have had my hopes dashed too many times in the past to
get too excited, but obviously we think we can help make
football a better game."
Only hours after Blatter spoke, World Cup referees said they
would welcome technology if it made their jobs easier and helped
the decision-making process.
"I am open-minded for anything that would make us more
credible," referee Howard Webb told reporters after a World Cup
referees' training session in Pretoria.
"Whatever tools I have I will use to the best of my
Blatter said that while FIFA would reconsider the goalline
technology debate, he was not sure the Hawk-Eye system was 100
He added that a chip-in-the ball system, the Smartball,
developed by Cairos technologies through Adidas was "too
Blatter said: "The Hawk-Eye system is not 100 percent
accurate because it can only reveal what the camera can see."
But Hawkins defended it, saying: "It is 100 percent accurate
and has been independently tested by the (English) Premier
League and IFAB and was shown to work in all instances tested."
Blatter revealed he had said sorry to the England and Mexico
camps for the refereeing errors.
"I have apologised to the two delegations and I understand
they are not happy," he said. "The English delegation said
'Thank you', the Mexicans bowed their heads."
He added: "I deplore it when you see the evident referees'
mistakes. They were not five-star games for referees."
Blatter has been opposed to the use of goalline technology
or video replays for years and in March the International Board
repeated its long-standing opposition to the idea.
After an experiment at the Under-17 World Cup in Peru in
2007 and other selected games, the idea of technology was put on
hold indefinitely as FIFA decided none of it was 100 per cent
However, the outcry over the two incidents this week has
caused Blatter to rethink, and he revealed new plans to improve
officiating at matches, without going into detail.
"We will start with a new concept on how to improve match
control. I cannot disclose it now because the dossier is still
on the presidential table," he said.
"We are going forward and will announce something in October
or November, because something needs to change."
The twin mistakes highlighted the fact soccer has become
isolated, with other major international sports using video
replays or infrared systems to decide close calls or track the
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