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Is Blatter's U-turn for real?

sports Updated: Jun 30, 2010 11:12 IST

AP
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FIFA president Sepp Blatter's apparent U-turn on the possible introduction of technology to help referees should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Maybe he really is having a genuine change of heart, in which case, hooray. Or, perhaps more likely, his sudden reversal is just for show.

The reason for the skepticism is that Blatter and FIFA have long been on the frontline of resistance to technological aids that could help referees make fewer blunders, including at this World Cup.

Only after Blatter, his organisation and the sport it governs have been made to look silly by bad refereering in South Africa is the FIFA boss acting as if scales have fallen from his eyes.

"It would be a nonsense to not reopen the file of technology," he said on Tuesday.

Just don't forget that this is the same person who in 2008 said: "Let's leave football with errors."

To be absolutely clear: Blatter is talking only about the possibility of using technology that can tell when the ball crosses the goal line.

He is not advocating the use of video to spot whether players are offside, as Carlos Tevez was when he scored on Sunday for Argentina against Mexico.

Nor would there be replays to catch Thierry Henry-esque handballs or other fouls. None of that is on the cards.

"The only principle we are going to bring back now for discussion is the goal-line technology," Blatter says.

Nor does agreeing to revive shelved discussions about technology actually commit FIFA to adopting it. It is possible that Blatter is only paying lip service to the issue now to mollify critics after referees made a couple of howlers at the World Cup, including awarding Tevez's illegitimate goal and robbing England of a legitimate goal against Germany.

In that case, Frank Lampard's shot clearly crossed the German line and should have been awarded but the referee from Uruguay and his assistants did not see it.

Previously, FIFA's rule-making body has looked at two different goal-line systems before rejecting them.

One was Hawk-Eye, used for contested line calls in tennis. Its inventor Paul Hawkins says a Hawk-Eye goal-line system has been tested, worked consistently, and has been ready for two years but hit a wall with FIFA.

Blatter still has doubts about Hawk-Eye, saying on Tuesday that it "has not given the 100 percent accuracy."

Hawkins says the FIFA boss hasn't taken the time to fully understand it.

"It is very difficult to have a direct conversation with Mr Blatter," Hawkins said in a telephone interview.