‘Lampard goal’ referee welcomes new technology
ZURICH — FIFA’s bid to have goal-line technology at the 2014 World Cup was backed on Thursday by the referee whose mistake at the 2010 tournament triggered calls for its introduction.
Jorge Larrionda was the referee in South Africa when England lost to Germany in the second round, after his match officials failed to see that Frank Lampard’s first-half shot had clearly crossed the line.
Now employed by FIFA to train elite referees, Larrionda acknowledged that he lived through a “difficult moment” in Bloemfontein.
“What we felt at the time was very tough, really,” the Uruguayan official told reporters after mentoring the 2014 World Cup referee candidates at FIFA headquarters.
Still, Larrionda believes that his mistake — which ended his involvement at his second World Cup — had a positive effect.
It persuaded FIFA President Sepp Blatter to insist on goal-line technology’s approval before the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
“It’s for the global benefit of the sport,” Larrionda said through a translator. “It’s all about protecting the game and to have credible football.”
Blatter detailed his expectations to 52 referee candidates this week at a seminar on fitness, psychology and tactics that opens their 18-month training program.
Among those in Zurich, 10 refereed in South Africa, including highly rated Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan, and Englishman Howard Webb, who showed 14 yellow cards and one red in the bad-tempered final between Spain and the Netherlands.
Giving them high-tech help should lift some of the pressure on football’s biggest stage, according to FIFA refereeing head Massimo Busacca.
“We know a camera is going to check if it’s a goal or not,” said Busacca, who did World Cup duty in 2006 and 2010. “Let’s see what happens in the Club World Cup in the first experiment.”
The Dec. 6-16 continental club championship in Japan will see FIFA’s two preferred goal-line systems finally activated in competitive matches.
The British system Hawk-Eye uses multiple cameras to track the ball and the German-Danish project GoalRef uses magnetic sensors in the goal frame to monitor a special ball.
Though Blatter’s wish for goal-line technology is being met, his post-South Africa promise of employing only professional referees in Brazil has proved unrealistic. Just a few 2014 candidates, including Webb and fellow English Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg, are able to make it their full-time job.
“The right word is to work in a professional way,” Busacca said. “We want referees with courage. We have to understand how to read the game.”
In 2013, the referees and their regular teams of two assistants will work at other FIFA events, including the Confederations Cup in Brazil, Under-20 World Cup in Turkey and Under-17 World Cup hosted by the United Arab Emirates. All will attend a second seminar in Brazil ahead of the Confederations Cup.
The youngest candidate is Neant Alioum of Cameroon, who will be 32 when the World Cup kicks off. The oldest, Badara Diatta of Senegal, will reach the mandatory retirement age of 45 one month after the final.
Busacca stressed that selection for Brazil is still open, and other referees could catch the eye of selectors, chaired by FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar of Spain.
“The selection will be like a football team,” the Swiss official said. “Some coaches have in mind some players. They are playing, and then in two years in 2014 decisions will come.”
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