Change of heart from Michel Platini over goal-line technology

UEFA president Michel Platini appears to be softening in his stance towards goal-line technology and now says he is considering introducing it for the 2016 European Championship finals in France.

Platini has previously opposed the use of the technology in football, citing cost and efficiency as two of the chief reasons for his negative stance.

But with FIFA having decided to utilise a goal-line system at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Platini admits he may have to rethink his position.

However, even if he embraces the use of technology, Platini insists that any system would be used in conjunction with his preferred additional assistant referee by each goal.

“In the World Cup they are going to use goal-line technology,” he told AS. “So I am asking myself if goal-line technology should be introduced at Euro 2016, but together with the five officials per game.

“That would allow those officials in the penalty area to focus on the plays in their part of the pitch, on the penalties, the corners, and we would all come out winning.

“Goal-line technology has been accepted by the International Board and I’m obliged to think about it.”

If the idea of utilising goal-line technology and employing additional assistant referees, sounds like a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, fear not. Four years since they first started appearing behind the goal-lines, we are still awaiting the first meaningful intervention from the extra officials.

Platini, 58, rejected suggestions that his opposition to goal-line technology was due to his age, stating that FIFA president Sepp Blatter (aged 77) was also opposed to its use until England’s Frank Lampard had a goal wrongly ruled out against Germany at the 2010 World Cup.

“It is not a question of age. Blatter is older than me and, after having been against technology for many years, he has suddenly decided to be in favour,” said Platini.

“I was against the introduction of technology but now that it is there, let’s see.”

Zahir Belounis to sue Qatari clubs

Zahir Belounis has criticised FIFA president Sepp Blatter for doing nothing to help him leave Qatar, and confirmed that he intends to sue two of his former clubs for fraud, extortion of money and inhuman working conditions.

The player and his lawyer, Frank Berton, said at a press conference on Tuesday they intend to file lawsuits against the Military Sport Association president Gamaan Al-Hamad and Al-Jaish president Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani – the brother of the Emir of Qatar.

“The lawsuits will be filed with the Paris prosecutor’s office,” Berton said. “We hope that the Paris prosecutor will open an investigation.”

Belounis played for the Military Sport Association from 2007 to 2010 before joining Al-Jaish.

Under Qatar’s kafala sponsorship system, workers need permission from their employers to leave the country, but after a dispute over wages, Belounis was denied an exit visa, thus stranding him in the Gulf state indefinitely.

“A few years ago, I would have never thought that I could be the prisoner of a sponsor,” Belounis said. “They destroy you if things turn bad. It’s a big fight to be heard and leave the country because the sponsor does whatever he wants.”

Belounis returned to France after representations were made by the international trade union movement and the footballers union, FIFPro.

Belounis said he was last paid in June 2011.

Stranded in Qatar with his wife and their two daughters, Belounis sank into depression and contemplated suicide.

“They hurt me, my wife and my two daughters,” Belounis said. “I can’t forgive that.”

His demand for an exit visa was first denied in February. Belounis said he was allowed to leave the country only because he accepted signing a letter of dismissal backdated to February that deprived him of his wages from that month to the end of his contract in June 2015.

One notable figure who conspicuously failed to lift a finger to help Belounis, was FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

“I’m angry with all the people who could have helped me and who looked at this case from afar,” Belounis said.

“When Blatter arrived in Qatar, I was telling myself that he could meet me at least. But no, there are more important matters than Zahir Belounis. That collateral damage means nothing,” Belounis said.

“Of course, I’m angry. Especially since he met people who can get me out of the country within 24 hours. And he did nothing.”

FIFA said it was not involved in the case because Belounis did not pursue his claim through its judicial body, the dispute resolution chamber.

But, the suspicion is, that FIFA’s reluctance to intervene on behalf of Belounis arose not from his failure to pursue his claim correctly, but from their desire not to antagonise the 2022 World Cup hosts.

Cesare Prandelli keen to widen Italy’s talent pool

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is hopeful of a law change that would allow children of immigrants to play for the country’s national teams before they turn 18.

Speaking at the Foreign Press Association, Prandelli said ”other nations are ahead of us in this department. I think and hope that soon these new Italians will have a chance to gain citizenship.”

Under current law, children of immigrants born in Italy can apply for citizenship only when they turn 18.

FIFA rules require that only citizens play for national teams.

Prandelli says he is monitoring the progress of ”two or three” players who fit into that category, although he wouldn’t name the individual players.

Milan and Italy striker Mario Balotelli was the child of an immigrant family, and had to wait until his 18th birthday to request Italian citizenship, as the Balotellis had not adopted him.

Goal of the Day

Lazio’s Keita Balde appears to be heading for the corner flag as he takes on the Napoli defence, but eventually he straightens his run and finds an accomplished finish.

Juventus fined over kids’ abuse

Juventus have been fined after the schoolchildren they admitted to the stadium in seats usually occupied by banned ultra fans, were guilty of the same offence as their adult counterparts.

The Serie A club let over 12,00 children into their their stadium for Sunday’s match against Udinese but the children behaved little better than the ultras and Juve were fined €5,000 (£4,200) after they shouted abuse at the Udinese keeper Zeljko Brkic every time he took a goal-kick.

“Juventus were fined after their (very, very young) supporters repeatedly aimed an insulting chant at a player from the opposing team,” Serie A’s disciplinary panel said in a statement.

“I wanted to say something right after the game because it bothered me but I didn’t want to put any oil on the fire and I decided to stay quiet,” the Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin told Italian media.

“For a club such as Juventus where everything is beautiful, in particular where the stadium gives you the idea that you are not in Italy, it is really troublesome to hear those words every time the goalkeeper puts the ball into play.”

Three Brazil World Cup stadiums to miss FIFA deadline

Three World Cup stadiums in Brazil will not be completed in time for FIFA’s end of December deadline.

Football’s governing body says the stadiums in Sao Paulo, Curitiba and Cuiaba will not be ready because of construction delays.

The stadiums in Curitiba and Cuiaba are expected to be ready in February, four months before the World Cup.

But, as for Sao Paulo, where a crane collapse last week killed two workers and damaged part of the stadium, FIFA was unwilling to even suggest a completion date.

FIFA has said it would not tolerate the same delays that plagued the Confederations Cup this year, when only two venues were completed by the original deadline.

Twelve months on little has changed.

Six months ago FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, while insisting that all stadiums would be ready by the end of the year, said there were no alternative plans to move the 2014 World Cup away from Brazil.

“The World Cup will be held in Brazil. The first game will happen in Sao Paulo, the final will be in Rio. There is no plan B.”

Let’s hope there will be no need for one.