Blatter hopeful '14 WCup will have goal technology

March 2, 2012 - 4:36 PM
Britain Soccer FIFA Prince Ali Hijab

FILE - In this March 23, 2010 file photo, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, right, speaks with Jordan's Prince Ali, chairman of the Jordan Football Association, in Amman, Jordan. FIFA Vice President Prince Ali will urge football's rulemakers on Saturday, March 3, 2012 to overturn a ban on Islamic female players wearing hijabs, insisting they are not religious garments. (AP Photo/Mohammad Abu Ghosh, File)

BAGSHOT, England (AP) — FIFA President Sepp Blatter is hopeful that he can convince soccer rule-makers to approve goal-line technology for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Blatter ended his long-standing opposition to the high-tech aids after England midfielder Frank Lampard's "ghost goal" against Germany at the 2010 World Cup. His shot bounced down off the cross bar beyond the goal line but was not counted.

The International Football Association Board will assess the latest test results on Saturday before sending approved firms into another phase of checks ahead of a final decision in July.

"We don't want a repeat of last World Cup (and the) experiences in last week in Italy," Blatter said, referring to some disallowed goals in Serie A. "I think I can convince the IFAB board that we must go forward with technology. We cannot afford to just wait and see what happens."

But UEFA President Michel Platini, who will miss Saturday's meeting because of a family death, opposes computer-aided calls in matches. He's pushed for additional referees' assistants.

After being tested in continental club matches, the five-official system will be deployed at the European Championship, which starts in June.

"Platini doesn't want it, but I wouldn't be again in a World Cup and witness another situation," Blatter said. "I would die."

Platini's view that soccer should remain in human hands is supported by FIFA Vice President Prince Ali of Jordan.

"Referees are part of the game and I would feel a bit depressed if every day something is coming out about how they are not capable of doing their jobs," said Prince Ali, who doesn't have a vote. "There is no rush. I think football can survive (without goal-line technology) ... it should be a process and evolution."

What also concerns Prince Ali, who joined FIFA's executive committee in June, is the risk of creating inequalities, by giving a "natural advantage to games at a certain level against others."

He highlighted how in some countries, like Jordan, clubs would struggle to afford goal-line technology. Teams or national teams would face rivals who could have advanced in the same competitions with the benefit of technology.

Hawk-Eye, the Sony-owned company whose ball-tracking technology is used in tennis and cricket, is seen as a front-runner. At major tennis tournaments, only a few of the many courts in use are equipped with the replay system.

On Saturday, Prince Ali will make a presentation at the IFAB meeting, urging members to overturn a ban on Islamic female players wearing hijabs.

Five years after headscarves were deemed unsafe to be worn in matches, he will ask IFAB, which is also made up of the four British associations, to respect cultural traditions and approve hijabs that are held in place by safe Velcro fasteners.

Another vote at IFAB will be on whether to permit teams to use a fourth substitute in extra time after several FIFA committees have backed the recommendation to improve the quality of matches and reduce the number of injuries.

An item returning to the agenda this year is an attempt to amend the so-called "triple punishment" of sanctioning certain fouls with a penalty kick, red card and suspension. FIFA has acknowledged that the current system is "widely considered to be too severe."

Rules are amended with six of the eight available IFAB votes. Changes typically take effect on July 1, but can be fast-tracked for a major tournament if the panel agrees.

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Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarrisUK