Decision to target World Cup a major push by Blatter before bowing out
The announcement yesterday by Fifa that it is seeking tenders for the provision of goal-line technology for the both the Confederations Cup in Brazil this summer and, more significantly, the World Cup there next year signals a major push by Sepp Blatter to add progress on the issue to his legacy before he departs the game’s top job in 2015.
Several major leagues have already made it clear that they are keen to get on board early but whether any of the systems currently being trialled or developed really has a long-term future remains to be seen.
Regardless of how much progress is made over the next couple of years, Blatter’s successor as Fifa president is bound to have a major say in whether the system becomes a permanent fixture and right now the front- runner for the job is one of its most determined critics, Uefa President Michel Platini.
Speaking in Monaco last August, the former French international was scathing regarding both the technology itself and the way that Blatter has secured its introduction at the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the eight -man panel made up of representatives of the four “home” associations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) as well as four representatives from Fifa itself.
Six votes were required at IFAB in order to secure a change of this significance but, argues Platini, Blatter’s change of heart on the issue a few years back, effectively meant that Fifa would immediately provide two-thirds of support required without any actual discussion or democratic process within the game’s governing body.
“I respect the fact that four (of IFAB’s members) are British and for 125 years they always take a traditional position,” says Platini.
“I respect that and I think that the four votes of the British are okay. It’s the four votes of Fifa that I don’t understand. It’s the president of Fifa who decides those four votes but he never speaks about these things. He never speaks about IFAB at Executive Committee (Fifa’s board) and I don’t think that that’s correct. The votes of Fifa should not be based on what one person wants.”
Platini, as it happens, claims much of the credit for other significant rule changes including the ban on goalkeepers picking up a ball that has been passed back to them and the red card for last defenders who deprive opponents of a clear goal-scoring opportunity and, having actively championed the use of additional match officials to help referees make decisions in relation to when the ball has crossed the line, he is not short on ideas in this department either.
Problem with technology
His problem with the proposed technology, he insists, is twofold. On the one hand he argues that it is unreliable, something strongly contested by Blatter who discarded an earlier prototype system on the basis, he said, that it was only 95 per cent accurate, before endorsing both Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, each of which was used at one of the two stadiums in which World Club Championship games were staged in Japan before Christmas.