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Jun 20, 2012

Sepp Blatter wants goal-line tech

WARSAW, Poland -- The most powerful man in soccer called goal-line technology a "necessity" Wednesday, only hours after Ukraine was denied what appeared to be a legitimate goal in its must-win match against England at the European Championship.

"After last night's match GLT is no longer an alternative but a necessity," FIFA president Sepp Blatter wrote on Twitter.

Marko Devic's shot in the 62nd minute of Tuesday's match looped up off England goalkeeper Joe Hart and appeared to cross the goal line before it was cleared by defender John Terry. The official standing near the post didn't signal for a goal, leaving the referee no option but to play on.

If the goal had been awarded, Ukraine would have pulled even at 1-1. But the co-hosts instead lost 1-0, a result that eliminated them from the tournament.

Ukraine's players complained furiously, coach Oleg Blokhin raged on the touch line, and Twitter was quickly awash with indignation, reaction and opinion on goal-line technology.

Ukraine prime minister Mykola Azarov said Wednesday that even he saw the ball cross the line.

Azarov told The Associated Press on Wednesday that "if I saw from the stands that the ball had crossed the goal line, the referee was bound to see that."

He called on UEFA to "draw conclusions about this refereeing ... so that such incidents don't take place in the future."

The high-profile incident added to the momentum behind providing referees with high-tech aids to make accurate decisions.

UEFA is using Euro 2012 as a trial for the five-official system that features a referee, two linesmen and two additional assistants beside the goal. It's UEFA president Michel Platini's preferred alternative to goal-line technology.

FIFA will decide on July 5 whether to approve the five-official system and either of the two goal-line technology systems currently being tested in England and Denmark.

Speaking at a media briefing in Warsaw on Monday, Platini said he expects goal-line technology to be approved at the International Football Association Board meeting.

"Yes, Blatter will do it," Platini said. "He will (introduce) the technology, but I think it's a big mistake. ... It's the beginning of the technology, the arrival of the technology."

Critics often hark back to a number of memorable goal-line incidents whenever a fresh controversy occurs.

The most famous came in the 1966 World Cup final, when Geoff Hurst's shot that hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced down was ruled a goal. It gave England a 3-2 lead over Germany, and Hurst later completed his hat trick for a 4-2 win.

In a match between the same two countries at the 2010 World Cup, a long shot by England midfielder Frank Lampard bounced down behind goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's line before spinning back out. Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda looked across at his linesman and allowed play to continue. The goal would have made it 2-2, but instead England lost 4-1.

Platini said Monday that if an official had been beside the goal that day, he would have spotted that Lampard's shot crossed the line.

"Of course, because it's his job to see if the ball is inside the line," Platini said.

Two days later, those words are coming back to haunt him.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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