Platini now wants all domestic leagues such as the Premier League to adopt the system or face its referees being overlooked for Champions League, Europa League and European Championship matches.
The Premier League responded cautiously to Platini’s comments, saying it wanted to study “the most recent set of analysis” from Pierluigi Collina, Uefa’s refereeing officer. The obvious concerns are that Platini’s plan would require more officials in the Premier League, draining the quality from the Football League.
Uefa was adamant that AARs are the way ahead. “There has been a clear reduction of holding, shirt-pulling and blocking at corners and free-kicks,’’ argued Collina. “AARs are felt as a deterrent. The increase in number of goals scored with headers, up from 15 at Euro 2008 to 21 at Euro 2012, is because there is less blocking.’’
Collina played a tape of communication between Howard Webb and his AAR, Mark Clattenburg, during the Italy-Croatia game at Euro 2012. Clattenburg correctly identified to Webb that Giorgio Chiellini had been fouled by Nikica Jelavic in the Italian box. “Defensive foul – No 9 pulled him down,’’ Clattenburg told Webb, who was focusing on the ball being delivered by Ivan Strinic. “Yes, great spotting, Clatts,’’ Webb replied as he rightly ignored Croatian appeals for a penalty.
Unfortunately for Platini’s system, Ukraine were denied a good goal when John Terry cleared Marko Devic’s effort clear when it was a yard over the England line. Surely that was a perfect advertisement for the need for goal-line technology? “It has been the only mistake in three years,’’ countered Platini.
“You never will convince me about technology. Video referee? No! The goal against England of Ukraine, that was inside the line, but there is offside before. What do we do? Do we come back?’
“I don’t want a big system of technology for one hour and a half for a goal that can be arriving in 20 years time. We will spend a lot of money. With technology, the guy who would push the button for the offside, if he is from Arsenal and the goal is for Tottenham, he pushes the button of offside – or Tottenham for Arsenal. They tell me it’s not 100 per cent accurate, so what’s the good of that?
“The importance of the AAR is invaluable. Serie A has started and they are rather happy with it. Some associations will take longer. But if they want to have referees in big European competitions we will give priority to those coming from associations who are implementing the system and trusting it so that there is understanding among the team of five referees. It is not a threat. It is ‘advice’.”
In feisty mood over breakfast in Monaco yesterday, Uefa’s president made clear his increasing resistance to the power-driven ways of the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter. “It was not the Fifa executive committee decision that decided it would be adopting goal-line technology [via the International FA Board]. It was the president. He can change his mind still. It wouldn’t be the first time he would have changed his mind.’’
Platini would like changes made to IFAB. “I respect tradition. I respect the fact that the four British representatives have, for 125 years, taken a decision. They have four votes and that’s OK. It’s the four votes for Fifa that I don’t understand. The president has those four votes, and we never speak about IFAB in the Fifa ExCo. That is not correct. The four votes from Blatter are not correct.’’
Oft criticised in England, Platini was keen to voice his admiration for the motherland of the game. “I take the Champions League final to Wembley, and the Uefa congress to London next year, because it’s the FA’s marvellous 150th anniversary. I want to show respect for what England has done for football.
“I try to help football progress. It’s good to have a president with ideas. I am not here to be popular. We take decisions for England, for France, for Russia, for everybody. We are never going back on Financial Fair Play. I want the clubs to spend the money they have, not the money they don’t have. We will be enforcing these rules.’’
Platini dismissed suggestions that he voted in favour of holding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar because of political pressure in France. “I was invited to a dinner with Mr Sarkozy where there was the prime minister of Qatar. They never asked me during the dinner to vote. It was a clear thing about ‘support’. They knew I would be independent. I voted for Qatar because it was time to go to a country in this part of the world. I said to the Emir I will vote for Qatar but I want the World Cup in winter and all the Gulf cities to have some games. He said ‘of course’ because he wanted my vote! For the good of the World Cup, the competition should be from Nov 20 to Dec 20. The weather will be better for fans.’’
As for Euro 2020, Platini reiterated his plans for a cross-Continent tournament, saying: “My preference is to have it in 13 different countries.’’