By GRAHAM DUNBARAP Sports Writer
KIEV, Ukraine – UEFA wants soccer’s lawmaking panel to delay a decision next week on approving goal-line technology.
The European soccer body pledged full support Saturday for its rival five-officials method of refereeing, despite an error that denied Ukraine a goal in a decisive European Championship group match against England.
Hours after the match, which England won 1-0 to eliminate the co-host, FIFA President Sepp Blatter stated goal-line technology was “no longer an alternative but a necessity” at the 2014 World Cup.
The panel, known as IFAB and featuring representatives of FIFA and the four British governing bodies, will meet Thursday and could approve either or both of two goal-line systems being tested, plus the five-officials project.
However, UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino stated it wanted “an open debate on technology in football involving stakeholders before any decision is taken.”
UEFA President Michel Platini stepped up his rhetoric against technology, ahead of the key rules meeting at FIFA headquarters. Two weeks ago, he acknowledged that “Yes, Blatter will do it” when asked if either the Hawk-Eye or GoalRef goal line systems would be permitted.
“Are you sure that it works?” Platini challenged one journalist at a news conference held Saturday to discuss Euro 2012 issues. “No one this day has seen the trials. I’m against technology itself because then it’s just going to invade every single area of football.”
Platini promoted the five-officials system as a human alternative to high-tech aids for referees, and protect against future calls for video replay.
There are generally three officials at matches, a referee and two linesman. UEFA is using two additional officials in the Euros and Champions League – one at each end.
After three years of trials in more than 1,000 UEFA competition matches, it will be judged by IFAB while one glaring failure at Euros is still a fresh memory.
“It was a goal, it was a mistake by the referee and he did not see it,” stated Platini, adding that Euro 2012 had the ideal refereeing of recent major tournaments. “The decisions have been fair, balanced and very good. Euro 2012 has shown what five-referee teams can bring. We have really cleaned up behavior in the penalty area.”
Platini’s assessment came after his executive committee received a report from Pierluigi Collina, the Italian former top official who runs UEFA’s referee training program.
“He showed us all the situations and explained to us all the benefits,” Infantino said. “Overall it was extremely, extremely positive. It was fair to state there was one mistake and unfortunately it happened in this Euro.”
The IFAB panel meeting Thursday includes the four British soccer associations, which have one vote each, and FIFA, which has a four-vote bloc. Six votes are needed to change a rule.
Even if both are approved, goal-line technology and five-officials would not be mandatory. Governing bodies and leagues could still decide whether they want to adopt either option or decline both.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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