Euro 2012: Ukraine were denied a goal - Referees' chief

UEFA's chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina on Wednesday said that a Ukraine effort ruled out against England in their final Euro 2012 Group D match for not crossing the goal line should have been given.

Updated: June 20, 2012 20:45 IST
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Warsaw: UEFA's chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina on Wednesday said that a Ukraine effort ruled out against England in their final Euro 2012 Group D match for not crossing the goal line should have been given.

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Collina's assessment and outrage in Ukraine have once again opened the debate about the introduction of goal-line technology that world governing body FIFA is in favour of but its European counterparts UEFA is against.

"The ball crossed the line. That was unfortunate," Collina told a news conference in the Polish capital, Warsaw, the day after the Group D match in Donetsk that England won 1-0.

Collina blamed human error for the "wrong" call but said decisions on two similar incidents in the 24 matches so far played in the tournament - in the Germany-Portugal and Italy-Croatia group matches - had been correct.

The incident arose in the 62nd minute of the game with the score at 1-0, when Ukraine's Marko Devic forced England's Joe Hart into a save and the ball looped back over the goalkeeper towards the net.

Defender John Terry acrobatically leapt to clear the ball from under the bar. Television replays indicated the ball crossed the line but Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai - advised by an assistant referee on the line - waved play on.

England kept their one-goal lead and advanced to a quarter-final meeting with Italy. Ukraine were eliminated, although a draw would still not have been enough to take them through.

Kassai's decision was greeted with dismay in Ukraine.

"The result of the match turned on a gross error by the officials who didn't give the Ukrainian goal," Ukraine's Sport-Express newspaper said on its website.

"And it all happened with five officials, two of whom were in charge of seeing whether a ball crosses the line."

FIFA is trialling two prototypes of goal-line technology and a decision is expected on its introduction when the organisation's rules body, the International Football Association Board, meets in Kiev in July.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter on Wednesday: "After last night's match #GLT (goal-line technology) is no longer an alternative but a necessity."

His UEFA counterpart Michel Platini, however, said this week that the five officials being used in Euro 2012 were enough to prevent any controversial decisions.

Collina tried to put the Ukraine incident into context, saying the five officials system had been trialled successfully over "thousands of matches" in European domestic competitions.

"This is the only problem we have had," he said. "It's one negative decision in three years of Champions League and two years of Europa League and 24 matches in the Euro," he told reporters.

"I would be very happy to know if the same questions would have been asked without yesterday's decision."

UEFA secretary-general Gianni Infantino added: "It's one error in 1,000 cases in three years of experiments with five officials. It's human error, by centimetres, but from our point of view as a whole over three years, it's very positive."

Collina said the decision was not a reflection on Kassai's overall performance, even though he has not been retained for the rest of the tournament, and revealed officials had a 95.7 percent accuracy rate in calling offside in the group stages.

He said the correct call was made for three disputed goals: one by Spain's Jesus Navas in their 1-0 win against Croatia and two by Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal's 2-1 win against the Netherlands.

"They were two very, very difficult decisions taken by the assistant referees: from the first pass, (Andres) Iniesta was level. Navas was behind the line with the goal. The two goals by Cristiano Ronaldo were very difficult decisions," he added.

But a goal by Greece against the Czech Republic should not have been disallowed for offside, Collina said, again blaming "human error".

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