MLS / Union / World Cup - International

FIFA Move Toward Using Extra Officials

FIFA are expected to fast-track approval of a five referee per match system for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa following mounting criticism of the Thierry Henry handball that led to France qualifying ahead of Ireland. A final decision will be made by soccer’s rule-making body, the International FA Board, in March. Said one executive member of FIFA: “The mood is that something has to be done and the easiest solution is to bring in the extra assistant referees.” The five referee system, which puts an extra official behind each goal, is now in place in the Europa League.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, speaking from the Soccerex conference in Johannesburg, seemed to quash any hopes for the implementation of video replay technology for fear that the game would lose its “human face.” He did forsee the use of goalline technology when FIFA felt that it was “accurate” enough. He also announced that the sudden-death playoff system would be discontinued for the 2014 World Cup qualifyiers: “There is too much at stake and football is so important.”

Blatter also said that an emergency meeting of FIFA’s executuve committee had been called for Wednesday to decide if Henry would be punished for cheating. Said Blatter, “There is a lack of discipline and respect in the game by the players because they are cheating by playing with the hand, pulling shirts and diving. We have to fight against that.”

However, it seems unlikely that Henry will suffer sanctions from FIFA: aside from the fact that there is no precedent for such punishment, the French newspaper L’Equipe quoted Blatter as saying that it was not Henry’s “responsibility to tell the referee” he had handled the ball and that the referee “should have taken the time to reflect rather than immediately awarding the goal.” How a referee is to “reflect” on something neither he nor his fellow officials saw was not made clear.

Blatter also revealed that the Republic of Ireland FA had petitioned FIFA to be awarded a 33rd spot in the World Cup finals. Ireland assistant manager Liam Brady, who acknowledged the Ireland FA had no expectation that the petition wouldn’t be granted, called Blatter’s public release of Ireland’s request “very disrespectful.” Speaking to Sky Sports News, Brady said of Blatter, “He’s a bit of a loose cannon . . . He’s an embarrassment to Fifa.” Blatter will be up for re-election as FIFA president in 2011.

Posted via web from The Philly Soccer Page

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