'Conservative' FIFA backing the referee

SEPP BLATTER has defended FIFA's "conservative" approach to the use of technology in football, insisting the referee would always remain the ultimate decision-maker at all levels of the game.

FIFA has come under fire for its resistance to introducing technological aids for referees – in particular goal-line technology – but Blatter is adamant no solution presented to him so far has been the right one.

The sport's world governing body is taking a keen interest in UEFA's continuing experiment with four assistant referees in the Europa League but Blatter said he was "not yet convinced" it had worked, and added: "There is only one referee, the basis of our game is one referee.

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"Whether you play in youth competition, amateur competition or at the highest level, there is just one referee.

"I accept that you may say we are a little conservative but sometimes it's good to be conservative rather than changing laws every year. I have never said TV will be the death of referees because it's not true. Refereeing was there before we had television. It is clear now that with the presence of cameras they can identify errors of referees, very evident errors.

"Other errors in appreciation of distances, television cameras cannot do it because they are from different angles and that's why in football the goal-line technology, and the system of the HawkEye, is not accurate."

Blatter was speaking at the 60th FIFA Congress in Johannesburg, where he also confirmed he would stand for re-election for a fourth term as president next year.

Congress also voted to keep the Olympic football tournament as an under-23 event, paving the way for the possibility of legal challenges from clubs over the release of players for the London Games in 2012.

That happened before the Beijing Games in 2008, when Barca, Werder Bremen and Schalke successfully challenged FIFA in the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the release of players.

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