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FIFA scraps video replay technology in favor of human calls

The board of the International Football Association Board, the rules-making body of FIFA, voted last week in Zurich against using video replay technology to aid officials in making calls in soccer games.

The decision was highly controversial and left FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke saying he hopes the decision doesn’t haunt the board at the World Cup this summer. “Questions will always come; we just hope they will not come in the final of the World Cup,” Valcke said.

The decision was swiftly followed by a legitimate goal being ruled out during the FIFA Cup quarterfinal match between Portsmouth and Birmingham.

The board decided to accept referees’ mistakes rather than allow technology to enter into the game. Only humans right or wrong should make decisions for the game, the board said.

“Whatever are the mistakes — and yes, there are mistakes — people will review the match and discuss what happened, but there was a clear statement that technology should not enter in the game,” Valcke said. “If we start with goal-line technology, then any part of the game and pitch will be a potential space where you could put in place technology to see if the ball was in or out, whether it was a penalty and then you end up with video replays.”

Giancarlo Abete, president of the Italian Football Federation, said he disagreed with the decision to scrap goal-line technology, arguing the lack of assistance to referees will only hinder teams punished by erroneous decisions.

“We are not out of this world, but the international movement cannot understand that there is a need to give responses to public opinion and serve a sense of justice,” Abete told Radio Anch’io Lo Sport. “This risk is to undervalue situations which will increase tension, and delusion of public opinion.”

Graham Poll, a former referee, said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the decision. He told Radio 5 Live’s “Sportsweek” the reason is probably because of the level of arrogance. “They feel that we have the best game, it’s our game, the number one game, and it’s the same as experimenting with things like sin bins. ‘Oh, no, that’s a rugby idea; we wouldn’t do that.’”

”It’s like having a look at a different method of off sides. ‘Oh, we won’t do that; hockey has done that. We have to be different; we’re football,” he said. “It’s hugely disappointing.”

Scottish football chief executive Gordon Smith, a vocal supporter of video, said there was no problem with the technology. “It’s not based on the fact that technology’s not good enough. It’s just an ideological idea that technology does not belong in football.”