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UEFA has welcomed the decision of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to approve the continuation of the experiment involving two additional assistant referees in UEFA's three major club competitions over the next two seasons.
Additional assistant referees will be deployed at matches in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons, and in the UEFA Super Cup in 2010 and 2011. This follows a meeting of the IFAB technical subcommittee in Cardiff, Wales, on Wednesday.
The agenda dealt with the review and eventual approval of requests made by various confederations and FIFA member associations to implement the experiments with two additional assistant referees for competitions in the 2010/11 and 2011/12 campaigns.
The experiment will apply to all UEFA Champions League matches from the play-off round next month until May 2012; all UEFA Europa League matches from the forthcoming group stage (starting in September 2010) until May 2012; and the 2010 and 2011 UEFA Super Cup games between the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League titleholders.
Under the system, the referee, two assistant referees and the fourth official are accompanied by two additional assistants who take up positions alongside each goal. Their particular remit is to focus on incidents that take place in the penalty area.
In May, the IFAB – which comprises FIFA and the national associations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – gave FIFA's continental confederations and national associations the option of undertaking a further two-year trial of the system of five referees, following a report submitted on the experiment with five match officials during the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League.
FIFA said that certain basic criteria have been established to approve the experiment. It must be conducted in member associations' professional leagues and competitions, or at confederation level (club competitions only). The experiment must be completed in time to allow a decision to be taken in 2012. In addition, it is mandatory for all matches in the applicable competition to be officiated with two additional assistant referees.
Trials with two additional assistant referees initially took place in UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying tournaments in autumn 2008, after which the IFAB gave permission for the experiment to be continued at professional level. As a result, the experiment was undertaken in just over 200 group-stage and knockout phase fixtures in the UEFA Europa League last season after being endorsed by both the world football body and IFAB.
FIFA and the technical subcommittee also confirmed that goal-line technology will be on the agenda of the next IFAB annual business meeting in October.
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