UEFA have announced that their experiment using two extra match officials, first trialled in last season's Europa League, is to be extended to next season’s Champions League and qualifying games for the 2012 European Championship.
An official UEFA Statement read:
“The UEFA Executive Committee also agreed to propose to FIFA and the International Football Association Board (IFAB), following the IFAB’s approval on May 18, 2010 of a further two years of experimentation with two extra additional assistant referees, that the UEFA Champions League 2010-11 as of the play-offs (last qualifying round before the Group Stage), the UEFA Europa League as from the Group Stage, the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying phase and final tournament, and the UEFA Super Cup 2010, be used for further trials for the use of two additional assistant referees.”
In addition to the referee and his two assistants, an extra official is placed behind the goal at either end. The system earned mixed reviews in this season’s Europa League, with its critics pointing to an incident during Fulham’s home tie with Roma as proof that the experiment added little to the game.
At Craven Cottage that evening, Stephen Kelly tripped John Arne Riise directly in front of an extra official, only for Brede Hangeland to be shown a red card after being incorrectly identified as the guilty party. The decision was eventually reversed, as Kelly rightly saw red, but the confusion cast more doubts over the new system’s validity.
The extra officials will first appear in the play-off round of the Champions League, which will be played in August. Domestic football associations are also free to import the system into their own competitions.
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