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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 06:48 GMT 07:48 UK
Failing World Cup refs face axe
By Owen Phillips

Keith Hackett
Hackett says referees will know where they stand in Germany
Referees' chief Keith Hackett says officials who fail to implement Fifa's eight-point hit-list will be ruthlessly dealt with at this summer's World Cup.

Fifa has told referees to get tough on several high-profile areas of concern, including diving and time-wasting.

Hackett told BBC Sport: "Referees know where they stand and are expected to carry out the rules Fifa has declared.

"If a referee doesn't carry out these instructions his chances of getting a second game are somewhat remote."

The International Football Association Board - football's ultimate law-making body - met in early March and told referees to clamp down on elbowing, reckless tackling, shirt pulling, time-wasting and diving.

It also urged referees to be vigilant over behaviour in the wall at free-kicks, players wearing jewellery and the attitude towards officials.

There is accountability; if a referee does not perform he is likely to be sent home - and it's as harsh as that
Keith Hackett

Elbowing and reckless tackling will result in straight red cards and Hackett, head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOB), believes Fifa's clear guidelines will cut down on confusion for referees, fans and players.

He said: "When the referees' committee of Fifa says 'these are the various areas we want you to take on board and deal with in a very firm and consistent manner' then they will be highlighted and referees will be expected to perform.

"There is accountability; if a referee does not perform he is likely to be sent home - and it's as harsh as that."

Despite the clampdown, Hackett does not expect the new guidelines to lead to a spate of red and yellow cards because of the way the new instructions have been handled.

"There will be very tight control as to how referees operate. Fifa has gone down the eight areas of concern route so that players fully understand what is expected of them," explained Hackett.

The need for consistency is vital. Fifa president Sepp Blatter said it is paramount there is better refereeing in 2006 than in the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea.

Graham Poll (left) and Pierluigi Collina
Poll was fourth official to Pierluigi Collina for Japan v Turkey in 2002
With that in mind, the 23 World Cup referees - including England's Graham Poll - have been meeting regularly in the build-up to ensure they are all of the same mindset.

Hackett stated: "In bringing the referees together like this and having them reside in one venue during the World Cup, the mode of operation is very tight and it's easier to get consistency.

"The aim is to get a uniformity to interpretation and that is easier in a tournament environment."

Fifa hopes the meticulous preparation will mean the usual cries of inconsistent refereeing and confusion over the application of laws do not plague Germany 2006.

In previous tournaments many games have finished with 10 against 11, or worse, but Hackett is confident the powers-that-be have done all they can to get their message across.

However, he warned coaches that they still have a big responsibility to make sure their players know exactly what to expect.

"The referees' committee will meet with the managers and coaches again and it's incumbent on the coaching staff to talk to their players and prepare them," he said.

Hackett is also convinced that England players - and English-based players - have an advantage because Premiership referees have been following the guidelines all season.

"The list shows some of the things we have focused on and worked on with the Professional Footballers' Association to improve the game in England," he said.

"We have worked hard with players and managers in England so average cards per game is about three.

"In the opening games of the World Cup that is likely to be higher because of the vigilance of referees and the fact that players and managers are under close scrutiny.

"But these are the most stringent areas of preparation that referees have been put through for a World Cup. There has been a lot of behind-the-scenes work."

SEE ALSO
Poll position for Germany
01 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
Cup ref Poll ready for pressure
01 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
Refs to use new radio technology
23 May 06 |  Premiership
Fifa names referees for World Cup
20 May 06 |  World Cup 2006
Poll will officiate at World Cup
31 Mar 06 |  World Cup 2006
Poll seeks World Cup appointment
14 Jan 05 |  Football


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