ZURICH — Soccer gave its stamp of approval Thursday to goal-line technology and headscarves for female Muslim players.
Also adopted was a proposal for a five-referee system to officiate matches – placing an additional assistant beside each goal.
The three decisions will be “long-lasting and resonate throughout the world,” said Patrick Nelson, the chief executive of the Northern Ireland association.
FIFA said it will introduce the goal-line mechanism at the seven-team Club World Cup in Japan in December, with plans to use it in Brazil at the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup.
“We want to make sure that the systems at the World Cup work at 150 percent, not 90 percent,” said Jerome Valcke said, secretary general for the governing body.
FIFA will use both Hawk-Eye and GoalRef systems in Japan, after they won “unanimous” support from the International Football Association Board panel, Valcke said.
The English Premier League is expected to adopt one of the systems – which are likely will cost up to $250,000 per stadium – during next season.
The ruling on headscarves reversed a ban on the Islamic hijab that’s been enforced in FIFA competitions since 2007. Soccer rules prohibit equipment that is dangerous or makes religious statements.
The IFAB gave its OK after FIFA’s medical committee decided two scarf designs do not threaten the safety of female players. The designs use quick-release velcro fasteners and magnets.
FIFA Vice President Prince Ali, of Jordan, led a yearlong campaign to overturn the ban and allow Muslim women
to play the game. Two Islamic countries make the headscarf mandatory for women in public – Iran and Saudi Arabia. Last year, Iran forfeited qualifying matches for the Olympics because of the headscarf ban.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter was a member of the IFAB panel that accepted test results showing the technology systems quickly and accurately judge when balls cross the goal line. The IFAB panel is made up of officials from FIFA and the four British soccer associations.
Hawk-Eye is a British camera-based system already used in tennis and cricket. GoalRef is a Danish-German project using magnetic sensors to track a special ball.
Thursday’s decision was expected and completed Blatter’s reversal on the matter. FIFA previously blocked using technology to help referees make decisions.
Blatter’s conversion came two years ago when he saw England denied a clear goal by midfielder Frank Lampard against Germany at the 2010 World Cup. Two days later, Blatter said FIFA must reopen the debate, though insisted it must involve only goal-line decisions. Video replay remains off limits for judgment calls, such as penalties or offside.
Blatter achieved his goal against the wishes of UEFA President Michel Platini, who opposes giving match officials any hi-tech aids. Still, Platini’s rival project which seeks to keep all technology out of decision-making also received support Thursday.
The five-referee proposal, made by European soccer’s ruling body, won IFAB approval after three years of trials in more than 1,000 matches.
That decision came just two weeks after Platini’s pet project suffered its biggest public failure, helping eliminate co-host Ukraine at the European Championship.
A Hungarian refereeing team did not spot that a shot by Ukraine forward Marko Devic crossed the line before England defender John Terry hooked the ball clear. England won 1-0 and advanced to the quarterfinals.
Neither goal-line technology nor the five-referee system is binding on leagues or competition organizers. Both are options to choose – and pay for – once IFAB approved the principle. Major League Soccer has said it wants to adopt goal-line systems.
IFAB, a 126-year-old body, acts as guardian of soccer’s rules. Six votes are needed to approve a change, with FIFA holding a four-vote bloc and the four British associations having one vote each.