Rebranded UEFA Cup to trial goal-line officials

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
Referee

Referees will communicate with the extra officials using headsets

Next season’s UEFA Europa League matches will be the first to trial new a ‘five officials’ scheme, with two extra assistant referees, one behind each goal.

The proposed system, which has already been trialled at under-19 level, involves the use of the additional officials to help referees with decisions such as penalties and handballs, as well as making it easier to determine whether the ball has crossed the goal-line or not.

The news means that the first English clubs to play with the new system in place will be Everton, Aston Villa and Fulham, all of whom qualified for the Europa League through the qualification spots in the Premier League.

FIFA President, Sepp Blatter said: “The International FA board decided ‘let’s have experiments with two additional assistant referees’ and we were looking where we can have such experiments. Now we have found a solution together with Michel Platini and UEFA.”

And UEFA President, Michel Platini, who has always been publicly against the use of video replays to aid referee’s decisions, is convinced that the idea, is the next step to be taken in order to make football a fairer sport.

“I am still against a video referee,” said Platini after a meeting of the International FA Board in March. “If you have an additional referee, he can see if the ball is in the goal – and also handballs. You don’t need another system. I am sure it will come into football. It is logical and would improve the morality.”

If approved, the system will most likely mean that the use of video replays will not be introduced into the game for a considerable period. So it will spark an old debate amongst football fans about the use of technology to aid referees’ decisions.

Many believe that a ‘video referee’ should be used, but only to determine if the ball has crossed the goal-line, and not for other decisions as it would disrupt the flow of the game.

But there are calls from some fans for football to follow the lead of other sports such as tennis, rugby and cricket – all of which successfully use a ‘video referee’ or ‘hawk-eye’ technology.

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