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Michel Platini will not be seeing his ‘dream final’ between Barcelona and Real Madrid in Munich in the Champions League next month. The two semi-final outsiders, Bayern and Chelsea, will be there instead.

Any Madrid fans who keep on eye on the war over refereeing aides may feel let down by the very system which, according to UEFA’s president, is best guaranteed to improve refereeing standards while maintaining the game’s human element.

In the closing stages of Madrid’s 2-1 win in the Estadio Bernabeu, and ahead of the confusingly dramatic shootout, Real’s Esteban Granero had his shirt pulled back in a people area skirmish by Bayern’s hero-keeper Manuel Neuer.

The one low-camera television angle showed clearly and conclusively that the goal-line assistant was perfectly placed and was watching the clash intently. Yet what could have been a tie-deciding penalty to Madrid was not given.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will not thus be the only sceptic about Platini’s Project. Add Jose Mourinho to the list.

Such has been the focus on the eventual implementation of goal-line technology, with the International Board geared up to say Yes on July 2 to top-level experimentation, that not enough discussion has concerned the different concepts of Technology v Assistants.

GLT is ONLY about whether the ball cross the goal-line or not. Goal-line assistants are SUPPOSED to be about sharpening up the accuracy of decision-making all around the penalty box: not only the goal-line but much, much more.

The evidence thus far is that either the assistants are not as much as help as they ought to be or that referees resent their presence and continue to insist on making all the big penalty-box decisions themselves.

That calls to mind a moment in the 1990 World Cup semi-final between West Germany and England in Turin in the days when FIFA used referees, not official linesmen, to run the line.

At one stage the French ref-turned-linesman Joel Quiniou stepped on to the pitch to replace the ball for a free kick: at which point Brazilian referee Jose Roberto Wright ran across, blowing furiously on his whistle and pointing to his chest to insist that he, Wright, was the referee and Quiniou should, like a Victorian child, be seen and not heard.

Is that what happened in the Bernabeu?

The jury will soon be in on goal-line technology; it remains out on goal-line assistants. IFAB should use its independence to ‘test to destruction’ whether Platini’s Project is not merely an ineffective distraction.

By Keir Radnedge

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