FIFA says there will no extra refs at World Cup

Updated: 03 December 2009 13:41 IST

FIFA rejected the use of extra match officials at next year's World Cup on Wednesday.

Cape Town:

FIFA rejected the use of extra match officials at next year's World Cup on Wednesday despite the uproar over Thierry Henry's handball that helped France qualify at the expense of Ireland.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that there will be no change at the World Cup from June 11 to July 11. However, he said there are further plans to introduce more match officials or technology at a later stage, and that the current experiment of five on-field officials in UEFA's Europa League will continue.

"The experiments for the Europa League shall go on," Blatter said. "But it has been decided that for the World Cup 2010 there is no change for referees. We will still have one referee, two assistants, one No. 4 and perhaps additional subs on the bench. But on the field of play, you will have one referee and two assistants. This is for 2010, definitely."

Henry handled the ball before setting up an equalizer in last month's 1-1 draw with Ireland in a World Cup playoff that put France through 2-1 on aggregate and eliminated the Irish. FIFA announced Wednesday it had opened a disciplinary case against the player.

The incident was not spotted by Swedish referee Martin Hansson and the goal stood, even though millions saw TV replays of Henry deliberately controlling the ball with his left arm and hand to keep the ball in play.

FIFA rejected an Irish appeal for the game to replayed despite Henry saying it was the fairest way to resolve the problem.

Football's governing body called an emergency meeting of its 24-man executive committee two days before the draw for the 2010 tournament in South Africa and was widely expected to bring in radical measures in time for the World Cup to help referees.

For several years, there have also been strong calls for TV technology _ with 26 or more cameras around the pitch _ to help the officials deal with incidents not spotted by the referee and two linesmen.

Instead, by delaying a decision on both options and setting up a new working party to look at them, FIFA now faces even more criticism from those calling for action to help the officials.

"The experiments are still going on," Blatter said. "So it is the opinion _ not only of the Referees Committee but of the Sports Committees, Football Committee, Technology Committee, former players such as Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer _ that an experiment must first be carried out globally before you can put it into action at the World Cup 2010."

Beckenbauer, a FIFA executive committee member who led Germany to World Cup titles as a player and coach and is considered one of the most influential figures in the sport, pointed out that the Europa League experiment was limited only to European referees.

"What about the referees coming from Africa, South America?" Beckenbauer said. "You can't ask them to come to the World Cup and do it for the first time."

Blatter acknowledged that the issue of video technology was "a long story" but said two companies looking at goal-line technology would report back to football's rule-making International Board in March.

However, Blatter has long held that the role of referees should not be weakened.

"We cannot imagine that football can just be stopped and then a decision shall be taken by a video monitor," Blatter said. "The laws of the game clearly say that, with foul play or whatever it is, it is the opinion of the referee (that counts). It is a game that has to maintain the human face.

"We will not close the eyes for the future. That's why that this committee (working party) I have identified will work in a group to give us some solutions."

Topics : Football Federation Internationale de Football Association
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