Soccer rule-makers eyeing video replay trials

Goal (AFP)
Goal (AFP)

London - Soccer's rule-makers are discussing whether to approve trials of video replays to assist referees who find it harder to keep up with the faster, modern game.

The International Football Association Board first approved technology in 2012 that was limited to systems determining whether the ball crossed the goal-line.

But the FIFA-dominated panel met on Thursday in London to decide whether to allow the first official in-game tests with video replay systems that could, for example, help to inform referees on whether a penalty should be awarded, a player should be sent off, or consider violent conduct they might have missed.

It is "physically harder for referees to keep up," and high-tech assistance is proving essential, English Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn said.

"It's trying to get consensus on how we can best use technology to help referees," Glenn said in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the IFAB meeting. The game has never been faster, referees have never been fitter but players are getting quicker.

"So those difficult snap-shot decisions at high speed are ones where we think, and certainly the English FA would think, technology might help and we've just got to test that."

The Dutch federation has been testing technology where officials watching on television could feed live information to referees. As an IFAB member, England is keen to host trials, having tested goal-line technology during a friendly in 2012 at Wembley Stadium.

"We will look back in 15-20 years' time and wonder how we never had it," Glenn said. "We are probably at a point where human endurance can't go much further so, at that point, if you can balance the flow of the game with smart use of technology, why wouldn't you?

"Technology can certainly help but we don't want to ruin the flow and the simplicity of the game which is something to be really valued."

FIFA controls half of the eight votes on IFAB, which also features four United Kingdom football associations. A motion requires at least six votes to be approved.

The IFAB meeting was also discussing the merits of sin-bins, allowing temporary substitutions for injuries that require "momentary treatment," and a fourth substitute in extra time.

"Given the intensity of the game, you think a fourth substitute might be a good idea," Glenn said.

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