Edinburgh: FIFA is willing to allow goal-line technology decisions to be shown to fans on big screens in stadiums and television viewers. In a document to be assessed by football's rule-makers on Saturday, FIFA has reversed its previous stance that referees could be undermined if the results from the high-tech aids were revealed.
Competition organizers will be able to prevent the outcome being publicly known as it is in tennis, however, while referees have the power to ignore the goal-line decisions.
"The question of whether and how replays are shown on TV or on an LED screen in a stadium should be one of the first discussion points when starting the implementation of goal-line technology in a competition," says a FIFA document on the implementation of goal-line technology. "FIFA recommends involving referees in this discussion as well, due to the fact that the main objective of GLT (goal-line technology) is to support and protect the referee."
Goal-line technology had divided meetings of football's rule-making panel for years until FIFA President Sepp Blatter reversed his opposition and it was officially sanctioned last July. The International Football Association Board annual meeting returns to Scotland on Saturday for its first visit since it decided five years ago that the sport should be free of non-human intervention in decision-making. The big decisions will now center on which goal-line technology systems to use.
As FIFA's leadership was arriving in Edinburgh, the organization announced on Friday that a fourth system had been licensed. GoalControl-4D, which uses seven high-speed cameras aimed at each goalmouth, joins another camera-based system, Hawk-Eye, and two other projects - GoalRef and Cairos - which use magnetic field technology to judge if the ball crossed the line.
All four systems meet FIFA's requirement that a signal is transmitted to the referee's watch within one second if a goal should be awarded. Hawk-Eye and GoalRef were approved last year and used at the Club World Cup in Japan in December. FIFA has invited tenders for selection to be used at the Confederations Cup in Brazil in June and the 2014 World Cup.
Domestic competitions are also racing to introduce technology, with the Premier League on course for systems to be installed by the new season in August. But FIFA also disclosed in its latest document that referees harboring doubts about the accuracy of technology in a particular stadium can decide up to 45 minutes before kickoff to switch it off.
"If the referee check does not satisfy the referee (i.e. the technology fails one or more tests), the referee must reject the use of the GLT system for the relevant match," FIFA says.
IFAB, which comprises officials from FIFA and the four British football associations, will also consider clarifying the contentious offside rule. FIFA is proposing that an attacker should be considered offside when "gaining an advantage by being in that position," including receiving the ball from a rebound or deflection from the goal frame or a player in the defending team attempting a tackle, block or save.
However, an attacker should be allowed to play on when receiving a deliberate pass, such as a back pass, from the defending team. The IFAB panel will also consider closing a loophole on uncontested dropped balls after a contentious goal in a Champions League match in November.
Ignoring the unwritten code of sportsmanship, Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano chased a long kick following an uncontested drop ball and scored against Nordsjaelland, whose injured player had forced play to be stopped. IFAB will consider amending the rules to ensure that a goal cannot be allowed if one team expecting to receive the ball after an uncontested drop has not touched it.
The panel will also be asked to approve trials of an electronic chip in players' shirts which could potentially warn of medical problems. Electronic communication between players and staff is currently banned, but the importance of safeguarding players' health was highlighted last March when Bolton player Fabrice Muamba had a cardiac arrest during a match in England. Muamba recovered but was forced to retire.
"Chips can monitor heart performance, distance run, changes in a person's body function," said Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish FA.