Thursday, June 08, 2006

Everyone is talking about it, so will I....

FIFA will be using computer technology to clarify whether a goal is an own goal or not for the first time when the World Cup starts on Friday.

Holger Osieck, the head of FIFA's technical study group, told reporters on Thursday that for the first time all 13 members would see detailed technical images of any dubious goals downloaded to their laptops.

A verdict from the group would then be made as soon as possible.

"Previous tournaments have been dotted with decisions about what constitutes an own goal which appeared to lack clear guidelines," he told a news coference.

"On the basis of fairness and positive approach the benefit of the doubt should always be given to the attacker."

Andy Roxburgh, UEFA's technical director and a member of the FIFA technical group added: "No matter where a member is in Germany, he will get images of the goal on his laptop and the decision will be made by the whole group as soon as possible.

"If a goal has been awarded wrongly, the decision will be rectified by the next day at the latest."


FIFA clarified new regulations on own goals in 1997 and Roxburgh added: "There are three clear guidelines on what constitutes an own goal -- or who should be credited as the official goalscorer.

"If a goal-bound shot accidentally bounces off a team mate into the opponent's goal, the goal will be awarded to the player who struck the ball towards the target in the first place.

"If a goal bound shot is intentionally re-directed into an opponent's net, the goal will be credited to the player whose action produced the change of direction.

"If a shot is going wide and is then deflected or re-directed into the opponent's goal by a team mate or an opponent then this player will be credited with the goal.

"So if it just brushes your team mate's leg and goes in, or hits an opponent and goes in, the player attempting to score is credited with the goal. If it obviously has changed direction, then it is either an own goal, or your team mates."

Own goals are rare in the World Cup; there have only been 24 in the 644 matches played in the finals since 1930.

The most infamous and ultimately tragic own goal was scored by Andres Escobar of Colombia against the United States in 1994.

He was murdered when he returned home a few days later after gamblers in Colombia blamed him for their heavy losses following Colombia's 2-1 defeat in the match.

As well as deciding on goal-scorers, the study group, established in 1966, will also be observing new trends and innovations in the game and nominating the players for the various FIFA Awards made at the end of the tournament including the All-Star team, the 64 Man of the Match awards and the Young Player of the tournament.

It also compiles the list of outstanding players from which journalists choose the Golden Ball winner for Player of the Tournament.

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