- Associated Press - Friday, March 2, 2012

LONDON (AP) - Soccer is in no rush to implement goal-line technology, a high-ranking FIFA official said as rule-makers are expected to sanction the next round of testing.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said he hopes to have high-tech aids in place by the 2014 World Cup, but vice president Prince Ali said the pace is too quick.

The International Football Association Board will assess test results from eight systems on Saturday before sending approved firms into another phase of checks before a final decision in July.

“Referees are part of the game and I would feel a bit depressed if every day something is coming out about how they are not capable of doing their jobs,” said Prince Ali, who does not have a vote on the matter. “There is no rush. I think football can survive (without goal-line technology) … it should be a process and evolution.”

What also concerns Prince Ali, a Jordanian who joined FIFA’s executive committee in June, is the risk of creating inequalities, by giving a “natural advantage to games at a certain level against others.”

He highlighted how in some countries, like Jordan, clubs would struggle to afford goal-line technology. However teams or national team would face rivals who could have advanced in the same competitions with the benefit of computer calls.

“These things have to be taken into account if it is a regulation,” he said Thursday. “There are some countries that cannot afford to implement it and … technology is always an advantage if you are used to using it against others who are not.”

Some sports, including tennis and cricket, use similar technology. At major tennis tournaments, only a few of the many courts in use are equipped with the replay system.

Instead, Prince Ali said he agrees with UEFA President Michel Platini’s use of additional referees’ assistants. After being tested in continental club matches, the five-official system will be deployed at the European Championship, which starts in June.

Although Prince Ali won’t be one of the four FIFA delegates with a vote at the IFAB meeting on Saturday, he will be making his own presentation to the body, urging them to overturn a ban on Islamic female players wearing hijabs.

Five years after headscarves were deemed unsafe to be worn in matches, he will ask IFAB, which is also made up of the four British associations, to respect cultural traditions and approve hijabs that are held in place by safe Velcro fasteners.

Another vote at IFAB will be on whether to permit teams to use a fourth substitute in extra time after several FIFA committees have backed the recommendation to improve the quality of matches and reduce the number of injuries.

An item returning to the agenda again this year is an attempt to amend the so-called “triple punishment” of sanctioning certain fouls with a penalty kick, red card and suspension. FIFA has acknowledged that the current system is “widely considered to be too severe.”

Rules are amended with six of the eight available IFAB votes. Changes typically take effect on July 1, but can be fast-tracked for a major tournament if the panel agrees.


Rob Harris can be reached at https://twitter.com/RobHarrisUK

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