The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
FIFA stays silent on WCup ref errors despite furor after England, Mexico losses
JOHANNESBURG - Coach Guus Hiddink challenged FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Monday to introduce video technology for soccer or immediately resign, as the fallout spread from two refereeing blunders at the World Cup.
But FIFA stood firm in its refusal to be drawn on the controversial issue, and didn't send officials with responsibility for referees to its daily briefing in South Africa, despite the furor over Sunday's blatantly wrong decisions that contributed to the elimination of England and Mexico.
"Sepp Blatter should announce tomorrow that video replay will be implemented or he needs to resign," said Hiddink, one of the world's most respected coaches.
The organization which represents players around the world also demanded that referees be given the most modern tools to do their job.
"We can do it, the football world wants it and yet it is still being thwarted. That is unacceptable," said FIFPro spokesman Tijs Tummers.
Blatter has offered no public comment — not even on his much publicized Twitter feed — since attending both teams' games Sunday, where he witnessed the errors of judgment by two referees and their assistants.
Television replays immediately showed that England was denied a legitimate goal against Germany when Frank Lampard's shot bounced down from the crossbar and over the goal line.
Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda waved away the 38th-minute effort, which would have levelled the game at 2-2. Germany went on to win 4-1.
Four hours later, Argentina's first goal in a 3-1 win against Mexico was scored by Carlos Tevez from an offside position but was allowed by Italian referee Roberto Rosetti. Mexico players protested to the match officials after seeing replays accidentally replayed on a giant screen inside the stadium seconds later.
Blatter has repeatedly rejected video technology, arguing it would slow the game down and remove the romance and tradition of the game.
As a result, match officials are denied access to images seen within seconds by hundreds of millions of television viewers, and most stadium spectators via replays broadcast on giant screens.
Technically, the referee in the Mexico-Argentina match would not have been allowed to base his decision on even a glimpse of the footage on the giant screen.
"Let it be as it is and let's leave football with errors," Blatter said in 2008 when experiments with goal-line technology and video replay were halted by FIFA's rules panel, the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
However, FIFA found a defender in Brazil coach Dunga, on the grounds that all publicity is good for the game.
"I would leave it the way it is," Dunga told reporters. "If there is no controversy in football, you wouldn't be there and I wouldn't be here."
The debate is undoubtedly unwelcome to FIFA which hoped it had dealt with the technology issue in March, when IFAB declined to restart technology experiments.
FIFA had no desire to revive the discussion Monday, midway through its showpiece event.
Under hostile questioning at a briefing which attracted double the usual number of reporters, spokesman Nicolas Maingot said he was not in a position to discuss decisions by referees or the rules panel.
"We obviously will not open any debate," Maingot said. "This is obviously not the place for this."
FIFPro's Tummers said Rosetti had no choice but to wrongly allow the Argentina goal because he could not be seen to rely on video replays.
"You could see the doubt in his eyes. Technology does not undermine the authority of referees, it only helps them," Tummers said.
That view was shared by the inventor of Hawkeye, a system used in tennis to judge line calls but spurned by FIFA in 2008.
"Referees want goal-line technology. It would be there to help them, not to replace them," Paul Hawkins told the British agency PA on Monday.
Hawkins believes his system, which uses a number of cameras positioned around the stadium to calculate the ball's position, could have transmitted a message to Larrionda, the Germany-England referee, within a half-second.
World Cup referees are scheduled to meet the media Tuesday at their training base near Pretoria, but are forbidden to discuss their own or colleagues' match decisions.
At a previous media session last Monday, referees who made disputed calls at this World Cup did not attend.
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