FAI BOSS John Delaney remains to be convinced that FIFA President Sepp Blatter will follow through on his declaration that football’s world governing body will revisit the subject of goal-line technology in light of controversial incidents at the World Cup in South Africa.
Delaney has also revealed that Blatter subsequently apologised to the FAI for the costly failure to spot Thierry Henry’s hand-ball in the November play-off in Paris, just as he has since apologised to the Mexican and English associations for the mistakes which went against their teams last Sunday.
On the subject of using video technology, the FAI chief executive said yesterday in Dublin: “Ultimately for me, it’s the FIFA President that doesn’t want it. I wouldn’t hold my breath because of his public remarks. I’d love to think it will come through but I’d be surprised.”
Delaney confirmed that Blatter had apologised to him for the Henry incident but insists that, for the good of the game, action will have to speak louder than words.
“I think November shook him, he wasn’t seen for a while,” said the FAI chief executive. “He subsequently apologised publicly as to how he behaved and subsequently apologised privately (for the decision itself). I’m not going to go into details on a private meeting but he spoke about Maradona in ‘86 and the incident with the French player Battiston and the German goalkeeper Schumacher (in 1982). I just said to him, ‘When is it going to stop?’ We’re talking about the highest level here, not Airtricity League games or Premier League games: you’re talking about really high-profile international matches that the whole world is looking at. To be fair to England, goals change matches and at 2-2 you don’t know what’s going to happen.
“Apologies are fine, it’s easy to say sorry to Mexico, it’s easy to say sorry to England. But I think the resistance, for me, is that if they bring in goal line technology, the flood gates are open.”
And even if that technology is introduced, Delaney believes reform needs to go further. He said: “There’s three things that need to happen. The players need to have a responsibility to the game. If a player cheats on a football pitch and if it has a material impact on the game, they should be punished, a bit like the way they cite players in rugby. If you take the Henry example, he should know if he does that, he gets (a ban of) two, six games. So that puts a responsibility on the player.
“The second thing I would do is bring in the two assistants behind the goals, that’s (UEFA President) Michel Platini’s idea (used in last season’s Europa League and set to be extended next season to the Champions League and qualifying games for the 2012 European Championship), one that I would support and a lot of people in football support. I can’t understand why FIFA are thinking of introducing it (only) on a pilot basis because if that assistant referee was there in the England match, that goal would have been allowed.
“And the third thing I would do is bring in, a bit like America, an appeals system where you have three calls. You can’t be frivolously calling every two minutes. People say this would hold up the game but in Paris the game was held up for two minutes anyway. If you had a big screen, (Giovanni) Trapattoni could have his shout, the same with (Fabio) Capello and England.
“There are three simple ways to do and, for the life of me, I don’t understand why there’s a slowness to bring in changes of that nature.”
Meanwhile, the FAI boss has welcomed, with some reservations, UEFA’s decision not to give seeded team’s home advantage in the European Championship qualifying play-off games, a U-turn which he says was sparked by complaints from the FAI.
“We had some success there,” he said. “They will still seed the play-offs but it is an open draw on who plays at home. They overturned their decision based on our representations and wrote to tell us last week. I’m happier, but I still don’t think they should be seeded. If you finish second you should all be equal. But it’s a small victory.”
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