IFAB ends possibility of goal-line technology being implemented, backs human decision-making

By Rob Harris, AP
Saturday, March 6, 2010

IFAB decides against goal-line technology

ZURICH — Goal-line technology won’t be introduced in soccer after the sport’s rule-makers voted Saturday to end all experiments and rely on referees to rule on disputed goals.

The International Football Association Board’s decision, which was opposed by the English and Welsh associations, came after listening to presentations by leading developers of technologies that could assist referees.

“Technology should not enter into the game,” FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said. “We should trust and keep football as a human game.”

Premier League club Birmingham had a goal disallowed in its FA Cup match against Portsmouth despite replays clearly showing that Liam Ridgewell’s header crossed the line before David James blocked the ball. Birmingham was trailing 2-0 at the time — and that’s how the quarterfinal finished.

“The credibility of football is always improved if you get the critical decisions right,” English FA chief executive Ian Watmore said. “There is enough evidence and enough quality of the technology to do an experiment that we could have learned from.”

At FIFA headquarters in Zurich, IFAB members were updated on the latest developments on goal-line technology from Cairos, which has developed a microchip ball, and Hawk-Eye, which uses a camera-based system.

“The solution to these incidents (at Portsmouth) is here — it’s not an issue that the technology isn’t working,” Cairos marketing director Oliver Braun said. “It’s frustrating for us because we have developed this system over so many years and IFAB encouraged us to develop the system. They set up some criteria and said if they were met they would go with the technology.”

IFAB rejected any non-human intervention at its annual meeting two years ago, but the issue of technology was put back on the agenda after Thierry Henry’s handball in a World Cup qualifier helped France advance to the tournament at the expense of Ireland. However, the two systems considered by IFAB on Saturday only related to goal-line decisions.

“The request came from different parties (that) we should listen,” Valcke said. “But technology was put on ice two years ago and now it’s a decision not just to keep it on ice, but to just stop it.”

FIFA, which holds four of the eight IFAB votes, led the opposition at the Zurich meeting and said mistakes will be part of soccer — even the World Cup final in July.

“If we start with goal-line technology, then any part of the game and pitch will be a potential space where you could put in place technology to see if the ball was in or out, whether it was a penalty and then you end up with video replays,” Valcke said. “Let’s keep the game of football as it is.”

IFAB did leave open the possibility of implementing an alternative system using an extra official behind each goal, which was tried this season in the Europa League.

A special IFAB meeting will be held on May 17-18 to decide whether to allow the two extra officials to be used worldwide from next season.

That meeting could also give fourth officials a bigger role in time for the World Cup by allowing them to intervene if a player has been sent off by mistake, the referee has missed the fact he booked a player twice or serious foul play has been missed.

IFAB also deferred a decision on whether players who concede a penalty by denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity should still automatically be sent off.

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