President of European soccer downplays need for video technology, keeps faith in referees

By Jerome Pugmire, AP
Thursday, August 26, 2010

Euro soccer head says video technology not needed

MONACO — The head of European soccer insists referees do not need help from video technology.

UEFA president Michel Platini contends that five officials should be enough to spot a penalty, hand ball or whether the ball crosses the line.

“I will always defend it and with a lot of rigor as I believe it is the only solution,” he said Thursday. “In terms of technology, I’m very measured because I go on the basis that if you have an additional referee he can see it just as well as technology.”

Disputed plays during this year’s World Cup led to worldwide criticism, strengthening calls to bring high-tech methods to soccer.

The five-official format started during last season’s Europa League and will be used during this season’s Champions League. The system features an assistant behind each goal as well as the two linesmen and referee.

“Eyes have always functioned and have always worked, so I am more in favor of testing the experience of whether the referee there has seen whether the ball went in or not,” Platini said. “Let’s wait and see how the (five-official system) works before seeing whether goal-line technology is important.”

UEFA also has also taken steps to reinvigorate its officiating by appointing famed former Italian referee Pierluigi Collina as its new chief refereeing officer.

One of the latest flaps came Wednesday when Tottenham beat the Swiss club Young Boys 4-0 to reach the Champions League group stage for the first time.

Jermain Defoe scored a disputed second goal after controlling a pass with his left hand. The hand ball was missed by the extra official behind the goal. Defoe admitted handling the ball.

At the World Cup, England was denied a clear goal when Frank Lampard’s shot bounced down from the crossbar over the goal line. That would have made the score 2-2 against Germany, which went on to win 4-1. Argentina led 1-0 against Mexico when Carlos Tevez scored while clearly offside. Argentina won 3-1.

Ireland was knocked out of its World Cup playoff against France when Thierry Henry controlled the ball with his hand before crossing for William Gallas to score.

Platini said the high-profile errors affecting Ireland, England and Mexico were made with three officials instead of five, and such mistakes will be less frequent in the new system.

Collina will be assisted by Marc Batta of France and Hugh Dallas of Scotland. They will designate officials and help improve conditioning programs. Collina stresses the importance of stopping the “pulling and pushing” inside the penalty area — a recurring issue during the World Cup.

He promises to be ruthless.

“The referees will have no more excuses,” he said. “If they’re not good enough to be on the pitch, they will not be on the pitch anymore.”

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