At a time when the world football is divided over the use of controversial video technology for the 2018 World Cup, FIFA’s Head of Refereeing Massimo Busacca said relying fully on technology can “kill” the game.
“Technology like microphone, camera cannot substitute your skills. Technology can only be a help for us but cannot be a substitute to human decisions. The day we think that technology will substitute human decisions, we kill football.
“We kill referee, we kill everything,” Busacca told reporters on the sidelines of an open training session of referees at the SAI Eastern Centre.
The FIFA president Gianni Infantino is keen on bringing video assistant referees (VAR) in Russia 2018 to rectify game-changing mistakes.
But following a slew of dubious decisions at the Confederations Cup in June this year, critics feel it’s not fool proof and argue that Infantino is rushing into technology prematurely.
The 48-year-old however did not reject VAR outright and without specifying anything he said technology could be a big help.
“We’re at the beginning. We did some trials in 75 games. We’re looking in Italy, Germany and other member associations.
“I have to be honest. There are somethings very difficult for the referees to see. And there could be situations at the World Cup that can destroy a game and the tournament. On the other hand, we have to continue to teach referees to develop their standards on the pitch,” said Busacca.
“We still think technology can play a big role in eliminating a big scandal in a game and I am really positive about it. We still remember a scandal or a terrible decision happened long ago,” he said without specifying the infamous football scandal — ‘hand of God’.
Stressing on the need for the referees to train and improve their physical as well as mental skill while officiating a match, Busacca said, “Referees have to be fit. The competition is very fast these days, even the hot and humidity factors play a role. A referee has to be always ready for every situation.”
The Swiss said it was important to anticipate a game and run, so that they would not end up being like the fictional character of Forrest Gump.
“It’s about teaching the referees how to prepare in a tactical way and to be there at the right place at the right moment. It’s about understanding the teams, their approach and what could happen in a top game. Think where the ball is going and run and not like Forrest Gump!
“Some has the natural ability, they wake up and they know it, while others need some training sessions to get themselves prepared. So the training is needed,” he said.
The FIFA Under-17 World Cup saw the unfolding of a new chapter when Esther Stabuli became the first woman official in 16 years at a FIFA male competition by refereeing the Japan-New Caledonia fixture here on October 14.
“We have to work together, the door is open for us. The level of women’s referee today is quite good and some of them are officiating at the top level in their respective associations. It’s not easy at physical level but they will understand this. We have to go step by step.”