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Page last updated at 19:19 GMT, Thursday, 27 May 2010 20:19 UK

Ref trial extends to Champions League & 2012 qualifiers

One of the additional referees watches the action behind the goal-line in a Europa League game at Goodison Park
An additional official behind the goal-line at Goodison Park

Uefa has extended the five-official experiment to next season's Champions League and Euro 2012 qualifiers.

The system, using an extra assistant behind each goal, was trialled in last season's Europa League.

The International Football Association Board last week allowed confederations, like Uefa, and national bodies to adopt the system over the next two years.

"It is difficult to find something negative in this experiment," said Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino.

In March, the IFAB - the body that determines the laws of the game - rejected the use of any form of goal-line technology to help referees decide on penalty-box infringements and goal-line decisions.

The ability of the traditional three-official set-up - one referee and two assistants - came under intense scrutiny once again in November 2009 when a handball by France striker Thierry Henry in the build-up to an equalising goal against the Republic of Ireland went undetected to effectively earn his country World Cup qualification.

IFAB, which is made up of representatives of the four British football associations and world governing body Fifa, resisted the clamour for technology, however, and continued its endorsement of the five-official experiment.

606: DEBATE

The system, though, was given a lukewarm reception by players, with a poll by world players' union Fifpro finding that 70% of club captains who had competed in the group stages of last season's Europa League had found no improvement in decision making.

Uefa's Infantino painted a different story. "If the enthusiasm was not there, IFAB would not have decided to authorise an additional two-year period," he said.

"We have made this experiment in the Europa League and it went well.

"Something else must be done to help the referees, you add eyes and you help the referee to cover their ground in a much better way.

"It's difficult to find anything negative in this experiment, although it will have to evolve, for example how shall they move, where do they have to be placed?"

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, former Premier League referee Graham Poll proffered that tinkering with the number of officials was a flawed approach by football's authorities.

"I think there were moments where it [extra officials] worked well," said Poll, reflecting on the Europa League trials. "Like when Dirk Kuyt scored a goal for Liverpool [in the 4-1 quarter-final win over Benfica at Anfield] and the assistant tried to rule it out for offside, but the guy behind the goal knew that there had not been a touch.

"But I think there was a big mistake at Fulham [during the 1-1 Group E draw with Roma] where they tried to send off the wrong player with the help of the extra assistant and they made a mess of it.

"You will always have human error, no matter how many officials you have that element will come in. We either embrace that and get on with it or we say we don't want that and we use the technological element.

"It is surely time to give technology an opportunity. Try it in the something like the Carling Cup. If it disrupts the flow of play then they can say technology isn't helping, but if it makes it better it should be introduced."

Uefa will use the system from the final qualifying round in the Champions League, throughout the Euro 2012 qualifying, in August's Super Cup between Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid, and, again, in the Europa League.

The system's use in any competition has to be approved by Fifa, but this is seen as a formality.



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see also
Liverpool 4-1 Benfica (agg 5-3)
08 Apr 10 |  Europe
Fulham 1-1 Roma
22 Oct 09 |  Europe
Goal-line technology idea dropped
06 Mar 10 |  Football
Players cool over Uefa ref scheme
04 Mar 10 |  Europe
No extra officials for World Cup
02 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
Moyes in dark on extra officials
17 Sep 09 |  Europe
Uefa trials new refereeing system
01 Jun 09 |  Europe


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