FIFA agrees to accept new goal tech and headscarves

FIFA agrees to accept new goal tech and headscarves

FIFA agrees to accept new goal tech and headscarves

The International Football Association Board overturns its 2007 ban on the headscarf, which it previously argued was unsafe and increased the risk of neck injuries. AFP photo

Football finally embraced goal-line technology as FIFA’s lawmaking panel approved two systems for use in matches on July 5. FIFA will introduce goal-line technology at the seven-team Club World Cup in Japan in December, and plans to use it in Brazil at the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said the approved Hawk-Eye and GoalRef systems would provide “99 percent security” that a notorious refereeing error which helped eliminate England at the last World Cup would not be repeated.

“There is no 100 percent guarantee in life. In the past we didn’t have accurate systems, but I have to say, ’Thank you, Lampard,’” Blatter said, referring to England midfielder Frank Lampard whose clear goal against Germany did not count in South Africa two years ago.

The English Premier League is expected to use one of the systems - which are expected to cost up to $250,000 per stadium to install - during next season. The IFAB panel, comprising officials from FIFA and the four British football associations, also approved a five-officials system of refereeing which UEFA President Michel Platini promoted as an alternative to technology, of which he is not a fan. “I am not just wholly against goal-line technology, I am against technology itself because then it is going to invade every area of football,” he warned last week. “Why don’t we have technology for offside decisions as well? And what about Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal in 1986? Why don’t we have technology to see if Maradona handled it? Where does it stop? It won’t stop. I am against technology itself.”

In a third historic ruling, the panel reversed a ban on women players wearing headscarves in FIFA competitions which had been enforced for safety reasons in 2007.

The three decisions “will be long lasting and resonate throughout the world,” said Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the Northern Ireland association. The decision was expected and completed Blatter’s U-turn, after FIFA had previously blocked using technology to help referees make decisions.

Major errors

It followed two weeks after another major tournament was blighted by a goal-line error, as European Championship co-host Ukraine was denied a goal against England in a decisive group match.

“It became evident the moment what happened in South Africa in 2010, that this cannot be repeated, and it happened again in the Ukraine. Ukraine can still not believe it,” Blatter said.

The IFAB panel accepted test results conducted by a Zurich-based technology institute that proved Hawk-Eye and GoalRef could accurately judge when balls crossed the goal line, and send an immediate signal to the match referee.

Hawk-Eye is a British camera-based system already used in tennis and cricket. GoalRef is a Danish-German project using magnetic sensors in the goalposts to track a special ball. Both projects must now digest a FIFA technical manual to ensure each system is certified at every stadium planning to use it.

IFAB members confirmed that decisions would not be broadcast inside stadiums, and video replay remains off limits for judgment calls, such as penalties or offside. “Goal-line technology is where this starts and finishes,” English FA general secretary Alex Horne said. “None of us thinks that
technology interfering with the free-flowing nature of football would be good for the game.”

Gulf states hail hijab decision

DUBAI - Agence France-Presse

The decision by world footballing authorities to overturn a ban on women footballers wearing the Islamic headscarf was welcomed by several Arab states.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), custodians of the rules of football, overturned its 2007 ban on the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, which it had argued was unsafe and increased the risk of neck injuries. New designs are secured with Velcro that experts have said eliminate the risk of serious injury.

“This decision makes us very happy,” said Sheikha Naima al-Sabah, the president of the women’s sporting committee for Kuwait’s FA.

FIFA’s decision is “going to promote women’s sport in Arab and Islamic countries”, said Adel Marzouq, coach of the women’s football team from Bahrain. “This wise decision will encourage footballers to play without embarrassment,” he added.