Sepp Blatter appears to have seen a video replay on the road to Damascus. In the wake of the mistakes made by officials in Sunday's World Cup ties between England and Germany and then Argentina against Mexico he has suddenly announced that video technology, which the law-making International Football Association Board ruled out only a few months ago in March, will be debated again at the Board's meeting in Wales at the end of July.
Yet it appears that only goal-line technology, in which an instant decision can be made on whether the ball has crossed the line will be discussed. Fifa president Blatter is understood still to be opposed to the fourth official watching a monitor and communicating decisions to the referee via their headsets.
The president has apologised to the Football Association and the Mexican football federation for errors by referee's assistants which cost each of their teams a goal in the second-round ties. Frank Lampard's shot that would have brought England level at 2-2 with Germany was clearly over the line before the goalkeeper Manuel Neuer grasped it. Supporters adjacent to the media areas were able to see that from television replays. When Carlos Tevez was offside as he scored for Argentina against Mexico, replays were shown on the big screen at the stadium, as they always are for goals, but not for supposedly controversial incidents. None of the officials concerned in those games attended a media day here yesterday.
Blatter admitted: "After what we have seen, it would be a nonsense not to open the issue of technology again at this [IFAB] meeting. Something has to be changed. We shall improve match control, as we have been working on this for many years. We will come up with a new model on how to improve match control, especially at high-level competitions."
Many will feel that this rethink has come too late and will still produce too little. Urs Meier, the former Swiss referee who officiated at World Cups in 1998 and 2002 said: "In the England and Germany game, the assistant could not see. He was 40 metres from the ball, in the right position with the offside line, and the ball only hits the ground for a split second. Only at this moment can you decide if it's a goal or not. You need help. You need a chip in the ball for example. I'm in favour of that. It's the best way out of this discussion. All the referees want technology. Imagine if England v Germany had been the final. Or if it was 1-0 not 4-1. It's like a lottery. It is easy to see from the stands but not from the touchline. It is a different angle. If you are not sure you cannot give a goal."
Darren Cann, one of the two assistants working with England's referee here Howard Webb, is living next door to the Uruguayan linesman Mauricio Espinosa, who did not see that Lampard's shot was over the line. "I certainly wouldn't criticise the Uruguayan assistant because he was in the correct position to judge any offside offence," he said. "There are difficulties if you're not directly in line, then it's a very difficult decision to make."Reuse content