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Board orders World Cup referees to take tough line

Written by: Staff

LUCERNE, Switzerland, March 4 (Reuters) Officials at this year's World Cup finals will be told to clamp down harder than ever before on time-wasting, elbowing, diving and serious foul play following the annual meeting of the International Football Association Board today.

The International Board, soccer's ultimate law-making body which comprises four representatives from FIFA and the four British associations, also sanctioned a number of modifications to the laws of the game.

Approval was also given for World Cup match officials to communicate with each other by radio if a suitable system can be found in time. Referees and officials have been using one in Scotland for the last three seasons and that system is expected to be modified for the finals.

The Board also paved the way for further experiments to take place in goalline technology with the Adidas ''Smartball'' microchip technology and also welcomed continuing experiments with a new Italian system using digital cameras.

However it rejected a French video-based system because it cannot, at present, deliver an ''immediate'' indication to the referee on whether a goal has been scored or not.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said afterwards: ''We will go on with the experiments with the Smartball because we had some very positive results when it was used in last year's Under-17 tournament in Peru, but the results were not conclusive.

''There will be no goalline technology at the World Cup, but we could have a communications system for the officials.

''It is paramount there is better refereeing in 2006 than there was in 2002.'' EIGHT POINTS The Board highlighted an eight-point hit-list which referees will be told to look out for at the World Cup -- and to punish to the fullest extent of the law.

They are: elbowing, reckless tackling, shirt-pulling, time-wasting, attitude towards referees, diving, behaviour in the wall at free-kicks and wearing jewellery.

Of those elbowing, reckless tackling and serious foul play will all be punished by immediate red cards while shirt pulling and those players who provoke a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play will be yellow carded.

FIFA will warn players who surround or insult the referee they also face a yellow card.

Jose-Maria Garcia, FIFA's referee chief, told reporters: ''We have to bear in mind the safety of players, take care of them and take care of the game.

''The game has to flow as much as possible and we are trying to deal with these kind of delaying tactics and those which endanger the players with the strongest sanctions we can use.'' The decisions taken by the Board today will be relayed to the 32 World Cup coaches taking part in their two-day workshop in Dusseldorf next Monday and Tuesday.

The 44 referees short-listed to officiate at the World Cup will also be told of the decision at their workshop in Frankfurt between March 21-25.

The decisions have been welcomed by David Davies, chief executive of the English Football Association.

''It was very important that the Board raised the awareness of everyone concerned with the World Cup about these issues as they affect everyone involved.'' REUTERS PG RK2055

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