Wenger explained his disappointment with the decision on goal-line technology after Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Burnley (Getty Images)

(WFI) The International Football Association Board has ruled out goal-line technology to assist referees, prompting an angry reaction from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and former FA chief executive Brian Barwick.

IFAB, which rules on changes to the Laws of the Game, voted against the use of technology at its annual meeting at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich on Saturday. The decision was made after the governing body was updated on the use of Cairos, a system with a chip inserted in a ball, and Hawk-Eye, which is commonly used in tennis and cricket.

“Technology should not enter into the game. It was a clear, clear statement made by the majority of us,” FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke told a news conference after the vote.

“Why should we have technology in a game where the main and unique parts should be the humans, players and referees?”

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger hit out at football’s rulemakers, saying it was “beyond comprehension” that they were still opposed to goal-line technology.

“For me, it is difficult to understand, for one reason because you want as much justice as possible,” Wenger was quoted by AFP after Arsenal beat Burnley 3-1 in the Premiership.

“I do not even think it is linked with the money factor. If you love football you want the right decisions to be made.”

Former FA chief executive Brian Barwick added his voice to the chorus of protests over the IFAB decision. Noting his incredulity, he said “…hours of research put in, millions of Euros spent and exacting criteria met – and yet still the guardians of the game will not rubber-stamp the use of something that deals exclusively in fact.”

Writing about the issue today in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, he added: “I am a huge advocate of making the match officials’ job easier not harder – and the adoption of goal-line technology would do just that.

“I have seen, first hand , whilst working with the German company Cairos how exacting and scientific the effort has been to create their system. And it works – instantly, every time – directly to the referee. Other companies, like Hawk-Eye, also rightly believe they have the system. Whatever, all of this work is now destined for the cutting room floor.

“The game is played to universal laws – but not to a universal standard, and not for universal prizes- and not to universal scrutiny.

Jonathan Ford of the Welsh FA and Patrick Nelson of the Irish FA backed FIFA’s decision to reject the technology (WFI/ M. Falconi)

The best deserve the best – and whilst I genuinely agree in keeping the game ‘human’ – ignoring something to aid the search for proper sporting justice and dealing in fact- is ultimately self-defeating.”

“Arrogance” of football’s lawmakers
The IFAB’s decision came on the day that Birmingham had a headed goal disallowed in their FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Portsmouth, a decision that would have been over-ruled if replays were made available to match officials as the ball had clearly crossed the line.

The use of technology was being considered as a tool to avoid referees’ mistakes during the games, such as disputed goals that get routinely highlighted by TV replays. The video technology issue came under scrutiny last November when France striker Thierry Henry twice blatantly handballed in the lead-up to his team’s decisive goal against Ireland in a World Cup play-off.

Speaking on BBC radio on Sunday, former international referee Graham Poll voiced his anger at the “arrogance” of football’s lawmakers, questioning why they were so reluctant to see the benefits of goal-line technology.

“It’s probably because of the level of arrogance. They feel that we have the best game, it’s our game, the number one game and it’s the same as experimenting with things like sin bins – ‘Oh no, that’s a rugby idea we wouldn’t do that,”he told Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme.

Saturday’s decision by IFAB to drop technology was opposed by the Football Association and Scottish FA, who had supported the idea of further experiments. But the Irish and Welsh FAs voted with FIFA. They later explained that their opposition to the technology stemmed from a desire to avoid disrupting the flow of the game.

Also during the meeting, IFAB members discussed a presentation on the use of additional referees, currently deployed in the UEFA Europa League, following the 144 matches played so far. Any decision on whether to allow an extra official behind each goal in future competitions worldwide was delayed to another meeting on May 17-18 following after the conclusion of the competition. The IFAB is also expected to discuss the role of the fourth official then.

During the meeting, IFAB also approved a proposal to let injured players from the same team who have collided to be treated on the pitch, while stretcher bearers will now only enter the field after a signal from the referee.

FIFA said the decisions approved on Saturday will come into effect on June 1, 2010.

The next IFAB’s annual meeting will take place at Celtic Manor, Newport, Wales from March 4-6, 2011.

reporting from Marta Falconi in Zurich and Mark Bisson

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