Collina defends extra assistant referees trial

Pierluigi Collina has defended the use of extra officials for European games, despite admitting that mistakes will still be made.

Speaking at the Leaders in Football conference at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium, the legendary referee – who sits on the UEFA Referee Committee – championed the scheme, which was used in the Champions League for the first time last season, after being trialled in the Europa League the year before.

The Italian feels their presence reassures referees, even improving the conduct of the players.

“It gave positive feedback,” said Collina. “Referees told us they felt in better control of what's happening on the pitch.

“It has even been a deterrent; the amount of pushing and pulling from set pieces has reduced. It's the same way you reduce speed when you see a policeman.”

Those on the periphery are still yet to be convinced of the effectiveness of the scheme, often pointing to the officlas lack of signals as an indication that they rarely liase with the referee.

However, Collina was quick to point out that while the assistants are qualified referees, they are under strict orders not to make any kind of gestures.

“They are fully qualified referees,” he said. “They are used to making big decisions around the penalty area.

“But they are told not that they must not make any signals, so they don't make signals, but they do speak through the mic. Commentators often say the assistant did nothing, but they are communicating.”

Despite his appraisal of the system, Collina admitted that mistakes would still be made, especially as the scheme is in its early stages.

“We have to be clear that this is an experiment. We have to expect mistakes.

“Last season we had some mistakes, but not because the extra assistant referees did nothing but because the referee believed that they were right.”

Even with the presence of an extra official at each end of the pitch, the calls for goal-line technology are still as loud as ever.

UEFA President Michel Platini has publicly declared his opposition to the idea, claiming it will take the “human” element out of the game.

When pressed about whether goal-line technology was necessary, the Italian echoed Plantini’s sentiment.

"We believe that the extra two referees can deal with goal-line decisions, which is what we're talking about. The feedback we have from the experiment is very good."

By Vithushan Ehantharajah