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FIFA cracks down on stadium big-screen replays

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 06:27 AM
JOHANNESBURG -

FIFA will censor World Cup match action being shown on giant screens inside the stadium after replays of Argentina's disputed first goal against Mexico fueled arguments on the pitch.

Angry Mexico players protested to referee Roberto Rosetti after the screens in Johannesburg's Soccer City showed Argentina forward Carlos Tevez was offside before he scored the opening goal in a 3-1 victory on Sunday.

FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said Monday that replaying the incident was "a clear mistake."

"This will be corrected and we will have a closer look into that," Maingot told a news conference Monday. "We will work on this and be a bit more, I would say, tight on this for the games to be played."

Maingot said the screens were used to broadcast a FIFA "infotainment program" to fans before the match and could be used to replay some match action.

Responsibility for operating the screens falls to South Africa's World Cup organizing committee, which took charge of the 10 stadiums during the tournament.

Organizers' spokesman Jermaine Craig said he had spoken to the stadium broadcasting team about the incident.

"The goal was awarded and it happened relatively quickly," Craig said. "In retrospect, maybe it shouldn't have been shown. It was shown and unfortunately there is nothing we can do about that."

Maingot said FIFA has not yet received feedback from its officials at the match about a mass confrontation between coaches and players behind the Mexico bench as the teams left the field at halftime.

Italian referee Rosetti was at the center of a melee trying to separate heated conversations that included Argentina coach Diego Maradona.

FIFA refused to comment on the Mexico game error or a mistake that may have led to England's elimination.

Maingot faced hostile questioning but said he was not competent to discuss decisions by referees or soccer's rules-making panel, which has rejected introducing video technology that would help match officials.

"We obviously will not open any debate," Maingot said. "This is obviously not the place for this."

Television replays quickly showed Sunday that England was denied a goal against Germany when Frank Lampard's shot bounced down from the crossbar and over the goal line.

Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda waved away the 38th-minute non-goal, which would have levelled the game at 2-2. Germany went on to win 4-1.

Former Netherlands great Johan Cruyff joined the debate Monday in support of goal-line technology to help referees.

"Cameras in the goal are fine," Cruyff wrote in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, "but if you also link that to offside decisions it gets tricky."

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who attended both games Sunday, strongly opposes introducing any video technology to help referees.

"Let it be as it is and let's leave football with errors," Blatter said after video experiments were halted at a March 2008 meeting of the rules panel, the International Football Association Board.

"Other sports regularly change the laws of the game to react to the new technology. We don't do it and this makes also the fascination and the popularity of football."

The voting structure for decisions by IFAB, which comprises FIFA and the four British national federations, means FIFA can block any proposal.

The 2008 meeting rejected the Hawk-Eye system which is used in tennis to judge line calls. The soccer version used 12 cameras around the stadium to determine the ball's position over the goal-line and send a message to the referee.

The subject was debated again last March and rejected.

Blatter said then that video technology was too expensive to apply worldwide, would break up the flow of games and was not always conclusive.

"No matter which technology is applied, at the end of the day a decision will have to be taken by a human being," Blatter said.

World Cup referees are scheduled to meet the media Tuesday at their training base near Pretoria, but are forbidden to discuss their own or colleagues' match decisions.

At a previous media session last Monday, referees who made disputed calls at this World Cup, including Koman Coulibaly of Mali and Stephane Lannoy of France, did not attend.

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