Blatter wants goal-line technology at 2014 World Cup
Rule-makers prepare to OK tests
FIFA President Sepp Blatter is hopeful that he can convince football rule-makers to move forward with goal-line technology in time for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Blatter ended his long-standing opposition to the high-tech aids after England midfielder Frank Lampard's "ghost goal" against Germany at the 2010 World Cup when his shot bounced down off the crossbar beyond the goal line but was not counted.
The International Football Association Board will assess the latest test results on Saturday before sending approved firms into another phase of checks ahead of a final decision in July.
"We don't want a repeat of last World Cup [and the] experiences in last week in Italy," Blatter said, referring to some disallowed goals in Serie A. "I think I can convince the IFAB board that we must go forward with technology. We cannot afford to just wait and see what happens."
But UEFA President Michel Platini, who will miss Saturday's meeting due to a family death, opposes computer calls in matches and has pushed for the use of additional referees' assistants.
After being tested in continental club matches, the five-official system will be deployed at the European Championship, which starts in June.
"Platini doesn't want it but I wouldn't be again in a World Cup and witness another situation," Blatter said. "I would die."
Remain in human hands
Platini's view that football should remain in human hands is supported by FIFA Vice-President Prince Ali of Jordan.
"Referees are part of the game and I would feel a bit depressed if every day something is coming out about how they are not capable of doing their jobs," said Prince Ali, who does not have a vote. "There is no rush. I think football can survive [without goal-line technology] … it should be a process and evolution."
What also concerns Prince Ali, who joined FIFA's executive committee in June, is the risk of creating inequalities, by giving a "natural advantage to games at a certain level against others."
He highlighted how in some countries, like Jordan, clubs would struggle to afford goal-line technology but they, or the national team, would face rivals who could have advanced in the same competitions with the benefit of computer calls.
"What if tomorrow, for example, it becomes the ruling that you have to use goal-line technology in all international matches, well can each country in the world afford to use that technology?" Prince Ali said. "These things have to be taken into account if it is a regulation. There are some countries that cannot afford to implement it and … technology is always an advantage if you are used to using it against others who are not."
Hawk-Eye, the Sony-owned company whose ball-tracking technology is used in tennis and cricket, is seen as a front-runner. At major tennis tournaments, only a few of the many courts in use are equipped with the replay system.
Presentation to overturn hijab ban
Although Prince Ali won't be one of the four FIFA delegates with a vote at the IFAB meeting on Saturday, he will be making his own presentation to the body, urging them to overturn a ban on Islamic female players wearing hijabs.
Five years after headscarves were deemed unsafe to be worn in matches, he will ask IFAB, which is also made up of the four British associations, to respect cultural traditions and approve hijabs that are held in place by safe Velcro fasteners.
Another vote at IFAB will be on whether to permit teams to use a fourth substitute in extra time after several FIFA committees have backed the recommendation to improve the quality of matches and reduce the number of injuries.
An item returning to the agenda again this year is an attempt to amend the so-called "triple punishment" of sanctioning certain fouls with a penalty kick, red card and suspension. FIFA has acknowledged that the current system is "widely considered to be too severe."
A suggested rule amendment calls for a red card to be given only when a player prevents "an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball, by holding or an offence committed from behind inside his own penalty area when he has no opportunity to play the ball."
Rules are amended with six of the eight available IFAB votes. Changes typically take effect on July 1 ahead of the following season, but can be fast-tracked for a major tournament if the panel agrees.