Fifa considering extra refs for World Cup

Fifa will consider having extra match officials on the field to help referees at next year’s World Cup in South Africa, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said on Monday.

Blatter says Thierry Henry’s deliberate handball, which led to the goal that sent France to the World Cup at the expense of Ireland, showed that referees needed more help on the field.

The Fifa executive committee will hold an emergency meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday, two days ahead of the draw for the World Cup, to discuss whether to recommend extra match officials. If they agree, the proposal will go before football’s rule-making International Board in Zurich in March for a final decision.

”There is a lack of discipline and respect in the game by the players because they are cheating,” Blatter said on Monday at the opening of the Soccerex business conference in Johannesburg.

”This is human beings trying to get an advantage and this is not good and we have to fight against that. We have only one man on the field of play who shall intervene in this matter. He has two assistants for the time being, perhaps more in the future. He has to make an immediate decision. He has only two eyes. So match control is now is on the agenda. How shall we avoid such situations as we have seen in this very specific match?”

Henry’s clear handball, first with his arm and then with his left hand, stopped the ball from going out of play before he crossed to teammate William Gallas to score an equalizer for a 1-1 draw with Ireland at Stade de France. That remained the scoreline and France qualified 2-1 on aggregate.

Blatter said the Irish were unhappy to go out of the competition in that way and had written to Fifa to be allowed into the competition as a 33rd team. That will also be discussed at the executive committee meeting on Wednesday.

Because of the clamor for Fifa to take action to help the match officials, the debate is likely to be between using TV technology or extra referees.

As an experiment in the Europa League, Uefa uses five officials, one standing at each end of the field, to help the referee settle disputes in the area, including whether the ball has crossed the line.

Blatter said he was not in favor of using TV technology to settle such disputes.

”With technology, you have to stop a match. You have a look at cameras,” he said. ‘Now I think there should be some additional [assistants], if they can see or not see.

”We have to maintain the human face of football and not go into technology. I think that goalline technology, when accurate, we can accept it in international football.”

Blatter said this year’s World Cup playoffs led to several disputes which would be discussed at the executive committee meeting. There was concern that such playoffs, where one team gets an advantage of playing the second leg at home, are unfair. — Sapa-AP

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