Football: Fifa rejects video replays for referees

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The Independent Online

Fifa, world football's governing body, has rejected a proposal to bring in television cameras to help referees make decisions at matches.

The International Board, football's law-making body, decided unanimously at its annual conference in Belfast this weekend not to resort to video replays. Several rule changes have, however, been made, the main one being that goalkeepers will no longer be allowed to handle the ball directly from throw-ins.

Sepp Blatter, Fifa's general secretary, said: "We are anxious television doesn't take over the game by controlling the referee. is composed of human beings, human frailties, mistakes and errors. We have to live with that."

A plan to use video cameras as an aid to the referee in an international friendly between France and Sweden later this month was also turned down. The Board rejected suggestions that a second referee be introduced. "We are unanimous that one referee will be in control, not two or three," Blatter said.

The Board has decided to crack down on goalkeepers who hold on to the ball to waste time. National associations will be warned that goalkeepers will only be permitted five or six seconds from receiving the ball until they have to play it again. Fifa also decided that the four-step rule for keepers will be enforced.

"Videos from French and Spanish games revealed that goalkeepers had controlled the ball for an average of 12 or 20 seconds, thus slowing up play," Blatter said. Other rule changes included:

An indirect free-kick will be awarded if a goalkeeper handles the ball direct from a throw-in.

In future a player bleeding from a wound must leave the field for treatment.

Thermal shorts must be the same colour as the player's strip.

A goal can be scored direct from the kick-off.

Players who don't retreat the required distance at the re-start of play now face being cautioned.

The ball is in play as soon as it moves forward from kick-off and not as in the past when it had completed a full circumference.

Joao Havelange, Fifa's president, revealed that nine countries had indicated interest in staging the 2006 World Cup: Germany, England, Russia, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Argentina, Brazil and Australia. Applications will be officially invited after France '98.