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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 25, 2006

Top refs should all be professional, says FIFA

BRUSSELS, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Complete professionalisation of international referees and changes to the fixture calendar will be among a number of proposals put forward next year, world soccer's governing body FIFA said on Friday.

A FIFA task force, set up to find ways of improving the game, will also present ideas on insuring international players and the rules by which clubs must release players for their country.

The committee agreed all referees at international level and in the top leagues around the world should become professional. The use of goal-line technology was also endorsed.

'This is all about the credibility and confidence in the game,' FIFA delegate Jerome Champagne told Reuters.

'We are also proposing the age limit of 45 be kept for top referees. But they will be kept on board in another capacity in such a way they can help us to improve refereeing through training, education etc.'

It was proposed back-to-back international matches be switched to Saturday and Tuesday from Saturday and Wednesday to allow players more time to recover when they return to their clubs.

'Friday and Tuesday was first proposed but FIFA feels Saturday is a family day to watch football,' said Champagne while adding that in Latin America this idea may be adjusted.

New criteria for the release of players which FIFA believes 'is more practical and will smooth the cracks' was also discussed.

Two ideas put forward were that international sides which have a player injured for his club in another country should appoint a local doctor to assess the player so that he does not have to travel to where the national team doctor is based.

'Also if a player is injured or receives treatment on international duty it should become mandatory for the club doctor to receive a full report,' Champagne said.

Final plans on insurance for players and compensation for clubs whose players are injured on international duty will be decided at the next meeting.

FIFA said the new regulations were viewed as a positive step in its ongoing dispute with Europe's top clubs.

The governing body is being sued by Belgium's Charleroi and Olympique Lyon of France over compensation for players injured while on international duty.

Charleroi and Lyon are backed by G14 which represents 18 of Europe's most powerful clubs such as Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan.

The FIFA task force, chaired by Barcelona president Joan Laporta and including members from the international confederations, associations, leagues, clubs and players, will meet again early next year before submitting its final paper to the FIFA Congress in May.