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   June 27, 2002 | 2030 IST


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Blatter rules out technology

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Technology will not be used to aid referees or linesmen for the foreseeable future, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Thursday.

"As long as I (am president) I will make sure that no technical help will be introduced in refereeing because we have to rely on human beings -- and human beings make mistakes," the head of world soccer's governing body told a news conference.

There has been renewed debate about using video replays in stadiums, or introducing other aids to determine whether the ball has crossed the line or not following controversial decisions by referees and linesmen in the knock-out stages of this World Cup.

The main matches under the microscope were the second round game between co-hosts South Korea and Italy and the quarter-final meeting of Korea and Spain.

Italy had one goal disallowed and playmaker Francesco Totti controversially sent off against the Koreans, while Spain had two goals disallowed. The second was after a woeful call by a linesman whose bad decision that the ball was out of play before a cross cost Spain a perfectly good golden goal match-winner.

But although Blatter was fiercely critical of the officiating last week, his message was that football would just have to live with the officials' mistakes.


He was adamant that technology to determine decisions about goals or offside would not be allowed while he was FIFA president.

"What we need to do is make sure that refereeing will always be improved, by courses, by technical instruction and also by tactical instruction.

"It is of paramount importance that the assistant referees know and feel football and they have to see and feel how the game will develop.

"But to introduce technical items - no. This will destroy an essential element of our game -- the emotion. If our game becomes scientific then nobody will have any discussion any longer -- if it was offside or not offside, if it's inside or outside the penalty box."

There are plenty of people who disagree with him, not least the 400,000 Italians and Spaniards who sent e-mails to FIFA protesting about the wrong calls they suffered.

Blatter said much the same thing about the refereeing at the 1998 finals, but his opposition to technological aids seems even more resolute now than it was before.

He added that experiments using electronic devices had "destroyed" the test matches in question.

"We have made some experiments and it was destroying matches using electronic devices to control the matches and to change the referee's decisions.

"The referee would take a decision and then you have to come back and change it and you have 50,000 people in the stadium.

"The crowd will accept when someone has made a mistake but they will not accept when something is changed. For the time being football will not accept it."

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