Platini reiterates support for five-officials

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VALLETTA - UEFA president Michel Platini has repeated his belief that the addition of two match officials represents the best way to minimise refereeing mistakes.

"Having two extra pairs of eyes is better. It certainly helps to reduce mistakes," Platini said after arriving in Malta on Tuesday ahead of this week's UEFA Executive Committee meeting.

UEFA is experimenting with five-man refereeing teams in this season's Europa League matches.

"We speak a lot about refereeing but we also have to recognise that football has changed a lot over the years," Platini told reporters.

"If I committed a handball offence in the box 20 years ago probably nobody would have noticed but nowadays it's different because there are so many television cameras filming the match and these expose every refereeing mistake.

"If we look back at the famous France versus Ireland (World Cup 2010 play-off) match, the referee didn't see what Thierry Henry had done (when he handled the ball before setting up William Gallas for the decisive goal)," Platini added.

"I believe that the best way to improve refereeing is by having more match officials monitoring the game.

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"It's also more feasible than telling a national association to spend 200,000 euros ($281,800) on television cameras.

"Personally, I believe that the human element (in refereeing) is better than technology."

The additional assistant referees (AARs) are positioned beside each goal specifically to help the match referee judge whether players have dived in the box, fouled each other at corners or if the ball has crossed the goal-line.

The experiment with five match officials in this season's Europa League is on the agenda of the first UEFA Executive Committee meeting of 2010 on Thursday and Friday.

If the experiment is a success it is likely to be sanctioned by FIFA and the International Board, the law-making arm of world football's governing body, next March and be introduced into the game at large within the next season or two.

In an interview with France Football magazine last week Platini said if the five-officials concept is sanctioned by the International Board he would introduce it in Champions League matches immediately and for Euro 2012 qualifying.

This week's UEFA meeting coincides with the Malta FA's celebrations to mark the centenary of its national league and 50 years of the association's full membership of FIFA and UEFA.