The well-regarded Pierluigi Collina was a referee who never took any nonsense on the pitch [GALLO/GETTY] 

Former top official Pierluigi Collina is open to the idea of halting play because of offensive and not just racist chanting from fans, the UEFA referee's committee member said on Thursday.

Referees in his native Italy have been told by the soccer federation to suspend matches until racist chanting stops and last season Inter Milan's game at Cagliari was held up for three minutes after insults directed at Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o.

Last weekend's north London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal was marred by offensive chants and Collina sees no reason why the idea of holding up matches for racism should not be extended to other incidents of crowd misbehaviour.

"I think football must bring people together and not be divisive. If with the message we have to do something drastic, I welcome a drastic measure," he said.

"I had a match with two goals and my watch showed five goals. Every time the ball went over the crossbar, it was a goal"

Franck De Bleeckere

Collina also told the Leaders in Football conference at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium that UEFA's experiment with an extra official behind each goalline in the Champions League and Europa League had been a success.

"It gave positive feedback in terms of better (match)control," he said.

"It's a good deterrent. The number of pulls and pushes in set pieces have decreased, probably because of the presence of the extra referee. We had no controversy because of their presence."

David Elleray, a former top referee and the chairman of the English FA's referee's committee, said he believed technology could only ever be used for goalline controversies and nowhere else within soccer.

Plans to introduce goalline technology in the Premier League for the 2012-13 season have been delayed for at least a year because more tests are needed into the accuracy of various systems.

One system using a chip inside a ball linked to a watch on the referee's wrist was trialled in 2005 but referee Franck De Bleeckere was not impressed.

"I had a match with two goals and my watch showed five goals. Every time the ball went over the crossbar, it was a goal," he chuckled.

Source: Reuters