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European coaches give thumbs up to extra linesmen

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 2 Sep 2010

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Top European club coaches on Thursday welcomed the experiment with two extra assistant referees in the Champions League this season.

“The controversial thing was always going to be technical aids but I think (UEFA president) Michel Platini was brilliant on this issue,” said Liverpool coach Roy Hodgson after a meeting between 17 elite European coaches at European football’s governing body.

UEFA decided this summer to carry on with a trial of two extra linesmen it began with Europa League matches last season, expanding it to the Champions League for two years mainly to keep track of goalmouth incidents.

“It’s better to have three pairs of eyes than one pair of eyes,” Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson commented after the meeting.

UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh said coaches preferred the experiment to technical aids.

“One of the things they’re positive about and look forward to is the experiment in the Champions League of the additional referees,” he told journalists.

“They’re very much aware of problems going down the technological route, like the president if possible they like to keep the human route,” he added.

Roxburgh said the practice was bound to evolve and improve with experience over the two year period.

UEFA also hopes it will have a deterrent effect on pulling and tugging in the goalmouth as well as simulation, and make a difference when the referee is left behind by a fast break from the other half.

Football’s top rule making body, the International Football Association Board, agreed in July to expand the experiment with extra match officials in Europe, following a spate of high profile refereeing oversights during the World Cup.

The elite club coaches forum was also asked about the away goal rule in European competitions.

UEFA is considering whether to modify the rule, such as by making it void during extra time of a return leg. Roxburgh said clubs appeared reluctant to change it entirely after 40 years.

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