English football's campaign to implement video evidence appears to have been scuppered after the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, said yesterday that he would never allow matches to be halted except in the case of goal-line technology.
The Premier League and Football League have been lobbying Fifa to consider introducing television replay-style evidence to aid officials after a spate of controversial refereeing decisions this season, notably a number of disputed penalties and incidents of foul play that have gone unpunished. The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, said recently that the absence of video evidence was the equivalent of playing "night games with torches".
However, speaking at the Soccerex conference here, Blatter said: "We have to have correct control but we must never stop the match with videos or monitors to look at what has happened. It will take away the spontaneity and fascination of our game; we must keep football with a human face. Until I am no longer president, there will be no chance [for video evidence]."
Blatter's remarks will be a blow to English authorities who were hoping video evidence would be at least discussed, and possibly even approved, by the International FA Board, the game's lawmakers, next March.
The only concession made by Blatter yesterday was over goal-line technology, which Fifa expects to have in place by next year's World Club Championship in Tokyo after further experimentation either with a microchip-implantedball that triggers a sensor, or using a French-initiated behind-the-goal camera. "I am confident we will have goal-line technology within a year - but only goal-line technology," Blatter said.
Without specifying who he was referring to, Blatter also criticised the increasing trend of foreign investors buying up English clubs.
"England must be a very attractive league for investors to take over whole clubs," he said. "As long as they are promoting the game in a sensitive way, we are not concerned. But if they are arriving to take the best out of football, rather than to serve it, again something is wrong because when you have so much money, it leads to a distortion as far as the other clubs are concerned."Reuse content