Belfast Telegraph

Blatter apologises over Lampard's disallowed goal

FIFA president Sepp Blatter yesterday apologised to England over Frank Lampard's disallowed goal and performed an abrupt U-turn on goal-line technology.

Blatter woke this morning to the headline in a Johannesburg newspaper trumpeting 'Sepp Blunder' over FIFA's refusal to consider technology.

The result: apologies to England - and to Mexico over Carlos Tevez's blatantly offside goal - and the announcement that goal-line technology will be considered again by the International FA Board, with the issue to be raised at the law-making body's preliminary meeting in Cardiff next month.

FIFA had ruled this out as recently as Saturday - the day before the controversy erupted with Lampard's disallowed goal during England's 4-1 defeat by Germany - but Blatter admitted there was little option but to make a U-turn.

The FIFA president told a media briefing in Johannesburg: "It is obvious that after the experience so far in this World Cup it would be a nonsense to not reopen the file of technology at the business meeting of the International FA Board in July.

"Personally I deplore it when you see evident referee mistakes but it's not the end of a competition or the end of football, this can happen.

"They were not five-star games for the referees. The only thing I can do is yesterday I have spoken to the two federations [England and Mexico] directly concerned by referees mistakes. I have expressed to them apologies and I understand they are not happy and that people are criticising.

"We will naturally take on board the discussion on technology and have first opportunity in July at the business meeting."

Blatter added: "It happened in 1966 and then 44 years later - though it was not quite the same.

"I apologised to England and Mexico. The English said thank you and accepted that you can win [some] and you lose [some], and the Mexicans bowed their head and accepted it."

The FIFA president added that the IFAB would not consider video replays of all incidents.

Blatter said: "The only principle we are going to bring back for discussion is goal-line technology.

"Football is a game that never stops. For situations like the Mexico game you don't need technology."

Blatter revealed that FIFA would launch a new drive to improve refereeing standards at the top level later this year.

"We will come out with a new model in November on how to improve high level referees," he added. "We will start with a new concept of how to improve match control. I cannot disclose more of what we are doing but something has to be changed."

Blatter insisted the tournament in South Africa had not been overshadowed but the refereeing issues.

He said: "I've been too long in this FIFA institution to feel that - look what happened in 1978 with Peru [v Argentina], in 1982 with West Germany and Austria, the 'Hand of God' in 1986 and delicate refereeing in 1990.

"That's football and you have to take the pressure."

Blatter also warned French president Nicolas Sarkozy that France risks suspension from football if he interferes in the running of the game in that country.

Sarkozy has promised to personally head an investigation into France's fiasco at the World Cup where the players boycotted training and failed to win a match.

FIFA rules forbid government interference in the running of national associations and Blatter said: "Political interference in the national associations will be dealt with by FIFA no matter the size of the country.

"French football can rely on FIFA in case of political interference even if it's at the presidential level.

"France made an 'affaire d'etat' of football but it remains in the hands of the federation."

French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes resigned his position yesterday as a result of the World Cup controversy.

Belfast Telegraph


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