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Jul 8, 2010

FIFA hints at help for referees

England's Howard Webb could be the last referee to officiate a World Cup final without the aid of technology after FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said the 2010 tournament will be the last to be played under the existing refereeing system.

• Webb to referee World Cup final
• Inventor: Hawk-Eye ''would be instant''

Football's governing body has been under pressure to introduce goal-line technology after Frank Lampard's disallowed goal against Germany in the quarter-finals and a string of other contentious decisions led to calls for change.

After bowing to pressure to talk the issue over again, FIFA has hinted that something will be in place by the time the 2014 World Cup in Brazil kicks-off.

"We are talking about a single goal not seen by the referee which is why we are talking about new technology,'' Valcke told the BBC. ''But, again let's see if this system will help or whether giving the referee an additional four eyes will give him the comfort and make duty easier to perform, then why not? I would say that it is the final World Cup with the current refereeing system."

Following the International Football Association Board's (IFAB) decision to reject technology in March, FIFA President Sepp Blatter maintained the stance that human error should be part of the game. However, after renewed calls during the World Cup, Blatter was forced to perform a U-turn, saying that it would be a "nonsense" not to reopen the discussion and Valcke has admitted something needs to change.

"The teams and the players are so strong and so fast. The game is different and the referees are older than all the players," Valcke said. "The game is so fast, the ball is flying so quickly, we have to help them and we have to do something and that's why I say it is the last World Cup under the current system."

Hawk-Eye inventor Dr Paul Hawkins has already told Soccernet that there would not be a delay in the game if his system was used, while the introduction of two extra officials positioned at each end of the pitch - a move brought in by UEFA president Michel Platini - was used successfully in the Europa League and is set to be used in the Champions League for the coming season.

Meanwhile, Blatter rejected any possibility of 'penalty goals' being brought in following Luis Suarez's handball that denied Ghana a World Cup semi-final place.

Blatter did say however that any law changes being considered as a result of the Uruguay striker's actions would be discussed at the IFAB in October.

"That meeting in October is when we will discuss the question of goal-line technology and take on such situations as we have witnessed in this competition with Suarez in the last minute of the match between Uruguay and Ghana.

"You have seen in this competition and in others that it's so difficult to say if a ball is in or out. But if it is not in then no referee can declare it is a goal, this is definite."

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