Experimental five-referee system needs approval
Football’s experimental five-referees system needs fast-track approval next year to be ready for the 2014 World Cup, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said on Tuesday.
Valcke told The Associated Press that elite referees will begin FIFA’s three-year training program in 2011 for the tournament in Brazil, and each must start working with a regular team of either two or four assistants.
“If we want to be on time for the 2014 World Cup it means that the decision should be made by the end of this season,” Valcke said in an interview.
He believes FIFA’s rule-making panel could decide the issue next June, although worldwide trials are scheduled to run in competitions including the European Champions League for two more years.
The five-officials system places an extra assistant beside each goal to advise the referee.
Raising standards of refereeing became a priority for FIFA and its president Sepp Blatter after a series of mistakes affected some 2010 World Cup matches in South Africa – and a high-profile qualification playoff between France and Ireland – bringing pressure on the governing body to act.
“In 2014, something has to be changed. We have only one goal following what has happened at the (2010) World Cup and that is to make sure we give as much support as we can to the referees,” Valcke said.
Blatter’s personal project is preparing a new generation of younger professional referees, and he relaxed his long-term defence of human error in on-field decisions by reopening the debate on using technology for goal-line rulings.
FIFA also is monitoring five-official trials which started in last season’s second-tier Europa League competition and are intended to continue through June 2012 in national competitions in Brazil, France and Mexico.
However, Valcke said on Tuesday that the next World Cup needs a decision before the trials end.
“We have to train referees. You can’t just add two additional assistant referees in 12 months, they have to work together,” he said.
The decision rests with the panel known as the International Football Association Board (IFAB), comprising FIFA officials plus leaders of the associations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Valcke will join IFAB in Newport, Wales, next week to assess the trials, review 13 proposed goal-line technology systems and start setting the agenda for its annual meeting in March which has power to change the laws of football.
Valcke said match officials need to be working in teams of five at the traditional World Cup test event, the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, plus other elite competitions to prepare for intense scrutiny of their decisions at football’s showpiece event.
“At the World Cup you have only 64 games so you can’t have a single mistake. It has to be the best referees in the world.”© AAP 2013
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