ZURICH – Soccer gave its stamp of approval Thursday to goal-line technology and head scarves for female Muslim players.
Also adopted was a proposal for a five-referee system to officiate matches – placing an additional assistant beside each goal.
The three decisions will be “long-lasting and resonate throughout the world,” said Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the Northern Ireland association.
FIFA said it will introduce the goal-line mechanism at the seven-team Club World Cup in Japan in December, with plans to use it in Brazil at the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup.
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“We want to make sure that the systems at the World Cup work at 150 percent, not 90 percent,” said Jerome Valcke said, secretary general for the governing body.
FIFA will use both Hawk-Eye and GoalRef systems in Japan, after they won “unanimous” support from the International Football Association Board panel, Valcke said.
Hawk-Eye is a British camera-based system already used in tennis and cricket. GoalRef is a Danish-German project using magnetic sensors to track a special ball.
The English Premier League is expected to adopt one of the systems – which are likely will cost up to $250,000 per stadium – during next season.
The ruling on head scarves reversed a ban on the Islamic hijab that has been enforced in FIFA competitions since 2007. Soccer rules prohibit equipment that is dangerous or makes religious statements.
The IFAB gave its OK after FIFA’s medical committee decided two scarf designs do not threaten the safety of female players. The designs use quick-release Velcro fasteners and magnets.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter was a member of the IFAB panel that accepted test results showing the technology systems quickly and accurately judge when balls cross the goal line.
Blatter achieved his goal against the wishes of UEFA president Michel Platini, who opposes giving match officials any high-tech aids. Still, Platini’s rival project, which seeks to keep all technology out of decision-making, also received support Thursday.
The five-referee proposal, made by European soccer’s ruling body, won IFAB approval after three years of trials in more than 1,000 matches.
Neither goal-line technology nor the five-referee system is binding on leagues or competition organizers. Both are options to choose – and pay for – once IFAB approved the principle.
Major League Soccer has said it, too, wants to adopt goal-line systems.