UEFA PRESIDENT Michel Platini's controversial plan to use two extra assistants to rule on disputed goals could be in place by the 2012 European Championship after football's lawmakers agreed yesterday to take the much-criticised experiment into the professional game.
Despite a general clamour for using video evidence as the most accurate barometer for deciding whether the ball has crossed the line, Platini has long favoured using extra manpower instead of technical aids. His idea, already trialled at under-19 level, now looks set to be introduced in a major professional division next season, most likely the second-tier league in either Italy or France. If successful, a decision will be made in early 2011 whether to implement the system across the elite game.
"I am still against a video referee," said Platini following a meeting of the International FA Board in Belfast. "If you have an additional referee, he can see if the ball is in the goal – and also handballs. You don't need another system. I am sure it will come into football. By 2012? It is logical and would improve the morality."
The SFA will be infuriated by IFAB's decision to go with Platini's plan over more scientific methods. Although the IFAB also agreed to revive investigations into whether technology could provide a better solution a year after freezing all experiments with a microchipped ball and the Hawk-Eye system used in tennis, it was clear where its priorities lay. In other decisions yesterday the IFAB, comprising FIFA and the four home associations, threw out FIFA's controversial proposal to extend half-time from 15 to 20 minutes. A proposal to introduce sinbins also got the boot as did an SFA recommendation to allow a fourth substitute in extra time.
In a separate development, FIFA president Sepp Blatter reopened the debate over the 2012 Olympics by insisting the four home associations should be encouraged to field a joint British team. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have consistently opposed a united team for fear of jeopardising their own individual status but Blatter dismissed such concerns. "Unless the IOC expel football from the Olympic Games there will be a Great Britain football team at the London 2012 Games," he said. "The composition of this team is not relevant for the IOC or FIFA. Let them make a team and if Scotland don't want to play, then don't play. But the more noise you make the more people in FIFA will be alarmed."
Smith wants cap overhaul
GORDON Smith, the SFA chief executive, believes he can reach agreement between the four home nations that will allow naturalised Scots to play for the national team. At the moment, an agreement means that holders of British passports who do not have a Scottish, English, Irish or Welsh bloodline cannot be selected by any of the four countries.
Smith believes that arrangement needs updating to allow holders of British passports who have enjoyed five years of schooling before the age of 16 in any one of the four football nations to be eligible for that country.
"I have had good feedback from the Irish and Welsh FAs, they are very supportive and I'm now just waiting to hear back from the English FA," he said. "I think what we are proposing is a sensible response to a changing world in which globalisation has affected the make-up of populations. Imagine you have come over from Poland at 10, are 16 now, speak with a Scottish accent, have a passion for the country and wouldn't dream of saying you belong elsewhere. The current arrangement slights your 'Scottishness', somehow deeming that doesn't qualify you to play for your national team. That isn't right."