- Associated Press - Sunday, April 15, 2012

WEMBLEY, ENGLAND (AP) - The final phase of goal-line technology tests will begin this month before soccer’s rule-makers make a definitive decision in July, FIFA said Sunday after another high-profile controversy.

Chelsea reached the FA Cup final with a 5-1 victory over Tottenham, with replays indicating that Juan Mata’s shot never crossed the line for Chelsea’s second goal.

The International Football Association Board, the game’s rule-making body, last month approved two systems to go into a second round of testing in match scenarios before either can be sanctioned for use in competitive fixtures at a meeting July 2.

“The latest planning meeting for test phase two was held on Friday, and the second phase of tests will commence before end of April, and will continue throughout May,” FIFA said in a statement to The Associated Press.

IFAB must be satisfied with the speed and accuracy of Hawk-Eye or GoalRef before high-tech aids for referees can be deployed in football for the first time.

Sony Corp.’s Hawk-Eye is a camera-based ball-tracking system successfully deployed in tennis and cricket. GoalRef, owned by a German-Danish company, uses a magnetic field with a special ball.

Both systems send a signal within a second of the ball crossing the line to the referee, who will retain the power to make the final call.

In Sunday’s game at Wembley Stadium, television replays quickly indicated that Mata’s shot at the start of the second half didn’t cross the line when it was bundled clear by Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who was lying on the turf on the goal line in a scramble.

“It was nowhere near the line,” Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker said. “I had a perfect view. Four players were covering the line, so how the ball could’ve got over the line, I don’t know. The linesman said he didn’t make the decision. The ref took it upon himself.”

Martin Atkinson, the FIFA-accredited referee who awarded the goal, will be one of UEFA’s goal-line assistants for Howard Webb at the June 8-July 1 European Championship.

Even Chelsea players later accepted their second goal should not have been given when they were leading 1-0 in the semifinal.

“We’ve been calling for goal-line technology for a very long time,” Chelsea defender John Terry said. “Let’s hope that people make the right decisions (on approving it).”

FIFA’s support for goal-line technology had wavered until a high-profile blunder at the 2010 World Cup involving Terry’s England convinced President Sepp Blatter that any further embarrassments had to be avoided at major tournaments.

A shot by Chelsea’s Frank Lampard in a game against Germany at the World Cup in South Africa bounced off the crossbar and landed beyond the goal line but did not count as England was knocked out of the competition.

FIFA is hopeful one of the systems will be ready for use at the Club World Cup in December in Japan, but the Premier League hopes it could fast-track technology into its 20 grounds before the new season starts in July.

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