Goal-line technology sparks rift

by DPA on Jul 03, 2012

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A dispute about the introduction of goal-line technology appears to be leading to a fallout between the two most powerful men in world football.

Joseph Blatter, president of the world governing body FIFA, has been in support of the technical aid - which can determine whether or not the ball has crossed the line - since the 2010 World Cup and hopes for its approval at a deciding meeting on Thursday.

Michel Platini, who rules the European federation UEFA, prefers additional assistant referees as used at Euro 2012 and is not even swayed by the latest goal controversy at the continental tournament.

Instead, the UEFA executive committee on Saturday asked for a delay of a FIFA decision at the meeting in Zurich of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) and to support their system.

"The executive committee is asking FIFA and IFAB to start an open debate about technology in football involving all stakeholders before any decision is taken in this area," UEFA said.

Blatter was against goal-line technology until the 2010 World Cup, when match officials did not see that a shot from England's Frank Lampart had crossed the line off the crossbar.

His changed mind only seemed to be confirmed at Euro 2012 when the referee and the assistants did not give a goal for co-hosts Ukraine in a group match with England.

"After last night's match GLT (goal-line technology) is no longer an alternative but a necessity," Blatter said on social network Twitter the day after the game.

He later added his confidence in IFAB to give the new technology the nod: "I am confident they will realise that the time has come."

Platini will have none of it and he reiterated his stance on the weekend.

"I am wholly against goal-line technology," Platini said. "But it's not just goal-line technology. I am against technology itself because it will invade every single area of football."

Platini said that if goal-line technology was introduced, technology including sensors would also be needed to spot offsides, handballs and balls crossing the byline.

"It (the missed Ukraine goal) was a mistake but there was an offside before then, so why not technology there as well, or Maradona's hand of god goal in 1986? Where does it stop, where do we stop?" he said.

An introduction of goal-line technology on Thursday requires six votes from the eight IFAB members. The law-making body has existed for 127 years and has members from FIFA and one each from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The IFAB can chose from the Hawk-Eye system based on cameras and the so-called GoalRef system using magnetic fields. Both have undergone extensive tests, just as UEFA's use of the goal-line assistants.

If approved, goal-line technology may be in use as early as the Club World Cup and Blatter definitely wants it in place at the 2014 World Cup.

One solution to tone down the dispute between FIFA and UEFA would be a ruling under which each confederation can decide for itself, but that appears unlikely as it could lead to different rules in different areas.

The rift between Blatter and Platini may also have sports-political implications as Platini is widely seen as a candidate for the FIFA presidency.

Blatter has said on several occasions that he won't seek another re-election after 17 years on the job in 2015, but his final position on the issue won't be known until the election campaign starts.