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World Cup referees debacle forces FIFA's Sepp Blatter to reopen debate on technology

As the furor over bad World Cup referees continues, Sepp Blatter, the head of world soccer's governing body, FIFA, said Tuesday that the debate over whether to use technology to aid refs will be reopened.

By Matthew ClarkStaff writer / June 29, 2010

FIFA president Sepp Blatter spoke Tuesday during a media briefing in Johannesburg. He apologized for the refereeing mistakes that have blighted the World Cup and said soccer's governing body would look again at introducing goalline technology.

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Sepp Blatter is talking tough today. It would be "a nonsense" not to consider changes to world soccer body FIFA's policy against allowing the officials to use modern technology, said the head of the Switzerland-based organization.

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Mr. Blatter also waxed apologetic, explaining that he said sorry to England and Mexico officials after the disastrous performances of World Cup referees during Sunday's second round matches. (Refs missed a clear English goal in the England vs. Germany game and allowed a clearly illegal first goal by Argentina in the Argentina vs. Mexico game. Both errors featured in the Monitor's Top five refereeing gaffes of the 2010 World Cup)

"The English said 'thank you.' The Mexicans, they just go with the head," Blatter said, indicating that they nodded. "I understand that they are not happy. It was not a five-star game for refereeing."

IN PICTURES: Top 2010 World Cup controversies

OK, Mr. Blatter can admit mistakes. That's good. And he also is showing FIFA's willingness to change.

"After having witnessed such a situation," Blatter said, referring to England's non-goal against Germany, "we have to open again this file, definitely. Naturally we will take on board again the discussion about technology. Something has to be changed."

This should be cause for celebration, given that the famously opaque bureaucracy is not known for self-reflection. But there is still the sense that this is too little, too late.

England would have equalized with Germany right before halftime if FIFA had goal line technology in place to alert referees that the ball had crossed the goal line. That could have changed the tenor of the game. Mexico wouldn't have gone behind Argentina so early in that crucial match if the goal from Carlos Tevez, who was a few yards offside, had been reviewed via instant replay.

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