x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Blatter apologises to England and Mexico

Fifa to reconsider video technology as the president now sets a November deadline to create new concept for improving match control.

England's Wayne Rooney gestures towards Mauricio Espinosa, the Uruguayan linesman who failed to spot Frank Lampard's shot that had clearly crossed the line against Germany.
England's Wayne Rooney gestures towards Mauricio Espinosa, the Uruguayan linesman who failed to spot Frank Lampard's shot that had clearly crossed the line against Germany.

JOHANNESBURG // Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, has apologised to England and Mexico for the refereeing errors that helped eliminate them from the World Cup and said football's governing body will reopen the debate on introducing video technology. Blatter revealed yesterday that he had said sorry to team officials, and that the delegations from both countries had accepted his apology.

"Naturally we deplore when you see the evidence of refereeing mistakes," said Blatter, who attended Sunday's matches in Bloemfontein and Johannesburg. Blatter said Fifa will "reopen the file" on video technology at a meeting of its rule-making panel in Wales next month. He added that it would be "a nonsense" for the International Football Association Board not to consider changes. "Naturally we will take on board again the discussion about technology. Something has to be changed," Blatter said, while adding that the system could not be changed midway through the World Cup.

Blatter said he apologised to England and Mexico team officials at Sunday's matches. "The English said 'thank you'. The Mexicans, they just go with the head," Blatter said, indicating that they nodded. "I understand that they are not happy. It was not a five-star game for refereeing." England were denied a clear goal that would have levelled their match against Germany at 2-2 just before half time, while Argentina took the lead against Mexico with a goal that was clearly offside.

Germany advanced 4-1 and Argentina won 3-1. The errors created a worldwide furore and put pressure on Fifa, which has long opposed allowing officials to use technology to assist in decision making. Fifa will also update its referee training programme. Blatter said Fifa has set a deadline of October or November to create a new concept for improving match control at top tournaments and that the dossier is "on the presidential table".

He said Fifa spent US$40 million (Dh147m) on a programme to prepare match officials worldwide before selecting 30 referees and 60 assistants to work in South Africa. "They have their eyes, their perception of the game. So let's make that better and hope we are going forward," Blatter said. Uruguay's Jorge Larrionda and Italy's Roberto Rosetti, whose blunders prompted Fifa's technology rethink, have been left off the list of referees for the rest of the World Cup.

Larrionda officiated the England match and Rosetti wrongly awarded the Argentina goal against Mexico. Also left out were Koman Coulibaly of Mali, who disallowed a third United States goal in a 2-2 draw with Slovenia. * AP