Uefa referee plan backed by coaches

Decision to back up referee with four assistants comes after high-profile mistakes at World Cup.

Frank Lampard’s equaliser for England was incorrectly ruled out [EPA]

Europe’s top club coaches have backed Uefa’s decision to use five match officials in the European Champions League.

It comes two months after teams such as Mexico and England saw their World Cup hopes damaged by incorrect decisions in the penalty area.

The coaches gave their support on Thursday, two weeks before teams such as defending champions Inter Milan, Manchester United and Barcelona play matches for the first time under the experimental system that adds an extra assistant behind each goal to help referees make decisions.

“It’s better to have three pairs of eyes (in each penalty area) than one pair of eyes,” United coach Alex Ferguson said after a two-day gathering at football’s European governing body’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

Uefa president Michel Platini used the coaches’ meeting to promote the five-official system he devised to help keep video technology out of the game.

The system gives referees extra help to rule on goal-line judgments, diving, shirt-pulling at set-pieces, and is meant to deter players from cheating.

The former France playing great’s persuasive powers appeared to win over his audience.

“We have a very, very good president in Michel Platini,” Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said.

“Because he was a huge player he knows the rules, he feels what the players and coaches need.”

Europa trials

The trials were introduced in the Europa League last season and will continue in the second-tier competition, and the Champions League, through 2012.

“I thought Michel Platini spoke brilliantly on that subject,” said Roy Hodgson, the new Liverpool coach who guided Fulham to the Europa League final last season.

“He made it clear to everyone that there’s a human element involved, (and) there’s commercial interests involved.”

The Europa League trials did not get worldwide approval, and world governing body Fifa’s rules-making panel, the International Football Association Board (Ifab), called for two more years of trials in May.

Europe and Mexico were the most enthusiastic supporters of the system when Ifab approved the next phase of trials in July.

That came just a few weeks after Mexico were eliminated from the World Cup by Argentina, whose opening goal in a 3-1 second-round win was scored from a clear offside position.

But that was by no means the most controversial incident of the World Cup, with Frank Lampard’s equaliser for 2-2 in a 4-1 defeat for England by Germany in the last 16 also ruled out at a crucial point in the match.

Uefa stepped up its trials when the Champions League playoff round was played last month.

It saw another high-profile officials’ mistake when Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe admitted to a handball before scoring in a 4-0 victory over Switzerland’s Young Boys.

Last week, Platini said the five officials would be correct at least 99 per cent of the time.

Source: News Agencies

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