Goal-line technology to get FIFA nod

Two years after reversing his opposition to high-tech aids for referees, FIFA President Sepp Blatter will help decide if two systems passed trials to prove they can accurately judge when balls cross the goal line.

The panel, known as the International Football Association Board (IFAB), could approve either or both of Hawk-Eye and GoalRef for use in leagues and competitions that choose to pay for them.

Blatter has backed goal-line technology since England was denied a clear goal by midfielder Frank Lampard when losing to Germany at the 2010 World Cup.

Last month, Blatter said it was a “necessity” after England benefited from another high-profile refereeing error, helping eliminate co-host Ukraine at the European Championship.

IFAB, which comprises FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, and the four British soccer associations, also will weigh approval for the five-referee method of officiating matches and lifting a ban on Islamic women players wearing head scarves.

The five-referee system has been promoted by UEFA President Michel Platini as a human alternative to technology encroaching into the game.

Still, Platini’s pet project — which puts an additional assistant beside each goal — failed to spot that a shot by Ukraine forward Marko Devic crossed the line before England defender John Terry hooked the ball clear. England won 1-0 and advanced to the Euro 2012 quarterfinals.

Platini has acknowledged that Blatter will get his way on goal-line technology.

The FIFA president was in the stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, to see Lampard’s shot clearly bounce down from the crossbar behind the German goal line. England was trailing 2-1 in the second-round match, and ultimately lost 4-1.

Two days later, Blatter said FIFA must reopen a debate that he had long helped to stifle on giving referees technological aids. He insisted it must only include goal-line decisions and should not be extended to video replay for other judgment calls, such as penalties or offside.

FIFA appointed a Zurich-based technology institute to test proposed systems for giving accurate decisions within one second. Two survived to a final round of trials.

Hawk-Eye is a camera-based ball-tracking system that is also used in tennis and cricket. The British company was bought last year by Sony Corp., a World Cup sponsor.

GoalRef is a Danish-German project that uses magnetic sensors to follow a special ball.

If the technology is approved, the English Premier League and Major League Soccer in the United States have said they would adopt it in matches.

FIFA could introduce it at the seven-team Club World Cup in Japan in December.

UEFA has tested the five-referee system over three years and in 1,000 matches, including at Euro 2012 and in the Champions League.

“Euro 2012 has shown what five-referee teams can bring. We have really cleaned up behavior in the penalty area,” Platini said last Saturday.

Six votes are needed for IFAB to change a rule. The four British associations have one vote each and FIFA has a four-vote bloc.

IFAB will also begin discussions on reforming itself to include other soccer stakeholders.

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