FIFA to allow fans to see goal-line tech decisions

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News,Science and Technology

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — FIFA is willing to allow goal-line technology decisions to be shown to fans on big screens in stadiums and television viewers.

In a document to be assessed by football's rule-makers on Saturday, FIFA reversed its previous stance that referees could be undermined if the results from the high-tech aids were revealed.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said fans "must" know what the computers are telling referees on contentious goals.

"It's not secret," Blatter said Friday ahead of the International Football Association Board meeting in Edinburgh. "Once we have the technology and it shows it's a goal or not a goal, we have to be transparent, otherwise there's no need to do it.

"We will do it. It is something we need in football."

But competition organizers will have the final say and be able to prevent the decision of a goal-line technology system being publicly known as it is in tennis, while referees have the power to ignore the goal-line decisions.

English FA General Secretary Alex Horne said he would welcome television viewers being able to see how a device ruled on a disputed goal.

"Certainly the broadcasters need to have that accessibility ... to show the goal-line incident because that's at the heart of the integrity of the decision that has to be made," Horne said in the Scottish capital.

But Horne is reticent to allow fans inside Wembley Stadium for FA-sanctioned matches to see the information pinged to the referee by the computer.

"That falls for me in the 'controversial decision' element," Horne said.

Goal-line technology had divided meetings of football's rule-making panel for years until Blatter reversed his opposition and it was officially sanctioned last July.

IFAB is returning to Scotland for its first meeting since it decided five years ago that the sport should be free of non-human intervention in decision-making.

The big decisions will now center on which goal-line technology systems to use.

FIFA announced Friday that a fourth system had been licensed. GoalControl-4D, which uses seven high-speed cameras aimed at each goalmouth, joins another camera-based system, Hawk-Eye, and two other projects — GoalRef and Cairos — which use magnetic field technology to judge if the ball crossed the line.

All four systems meet FIFA's requirement that a signal is transmitted to the referee's watch within one second if a goal should be awarded.

Hawk-Eye and GoalRef were approved last year and used at the Club World Cup in Japan in December. FIFA has invited tenders for selection to be used at the Confederations Cup in Brazil in June and the 2014 World Cup.

Domestic competitions are also racing to introduce technology, with the English Premier League on course for systems to be installed by the new season in August.

Horne said the Community Shield, the season curtainraiser at Wembley in August between the FA Cup winners and Premier League champions, is set to be the first time technology is used officially in a match in England.

But FIFA also disclosed in its latest document that referees harboring doubts about the accuracy of technology in a particular stadium can decide up to 45 minutes before kickoff to switch it off.

"If the referee check does not satisfy the referee (i.e. the technology fails one or more tests), the referee must reject the use of the GLT system for the relevant match," FIFA says.

IFAB, which comprises officials from FIFA and the four British football associations, will also consider clarifying the contentious offside rule.

FIFA is proposing that an attacker should be considered offside when "gaining an advantage by being in that position," including receiving the ball from a rebound or deflection from the goal frame or a player in the defending team attempting a tackle, block or save.

However, an attacker should be allowed to play on when receiving a deliberate pass, such as a back pass, from the defending team.

The IFAB panel will also consider closing a loophole on uncontested dropped balls after a contentious goal in a Champions League match in November.

Ignoring the unwritten code of sportsmanship, Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano chased a long kick following an uncontested drop ball and scored against Nordsjaelland, whose injured player had forced play to be stopped.

IFAB will consider amending the rules to ensure that a goal cannot be allowed if one team expecting to receive the ball after an uncontested drop has not touched it.

The panel will also be asked to approve trials of an electronic chip in players' shirts which could potentially warn of medical problems.

Electronic communication between players and staff was currently banned, but the importance of safeguarding players' health was highlighted last March when Bolton player Fabrice Muamba had a cardiac arrest during a match in England. Muamba recovered but was forced to retire.

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

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