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FIFA planning communication system for World Cup refs

Written by: Staff
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FRANKFURT, March 21 (Reuters) FIFA hopes to have a new communication system for refereeing teams in place in time for the 2006 World Cup.

Three different systems are being tested by world soccer's governing body in Zurich and one of them, or a combination of all three, should be ready for the start of the tournament on June 9.

''It could be used for the first time at the World Cup,'' Jose Maria Garcia Aranda, Director of FIFA's Department of Refereeing, told Reuters at the start of a referees' workshop today.

''It's basically a way for the referee to communicate with the two assistants and the fourth official during the match.

''We may choose to optimise one of the systems by taking the best from each.'' In December last year, FIFA decided a smart-ball technology system, designed to rule out mistakes on goal-line decisions, needed more testing and would not be used at the World Cup.

Devising a closed system simply to enable referees to talk to each other during matches sounds a lot simpler, although there are potential problems.

''One of the most important things is to make sure there is no interference, and that people can't listen into the conversations,'' said Garcia Aranda, a former World Cup referee.

UEFA has been using a communication system for its referees in some European club matches.

FIFA has yet to run any tests of its systems in matches.

REUTERS PDS PC2134

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