Europa League to trial five officials

NASSAU - The Europa League, the renamed UEFA Cup, will feature five on-field match officials next season as part of a FIFA experiment, world football's governing body said on Sunday. FIFA's plan features two extra officials to monitor the penalty boxes to help referees with the tough calls close to goal as an alternative to proposals for the use of video images. The International Football Association Board (IFAB), comprising the four British associations and four FIFA representatives, which sets the rules for the world's most popular sport, has backed the experiment. "We were looking where we could conduct this experiment and we have found the solution together with (UEFA president) Michel Platini and UEFA - they have put at disposal the newly named Europa League," said Blatter, speaking before FIFA's congress in the Bahamas. The experimental matches will start at the group stage of the competition. "It will be conducted under the auspices of FIFA but UEFA is doing it, we are also happy that they are covering the costs," he quipped. While Platini has said he hopes the system will be in place for the continent-wide European Championships in 2012, to be held in Poland and Ukraine, there is some confusion over the terminology. Blatter initially referred to "two additional assistant referees" before correcting to "two additional officials." The system was used in an international youth tournament in Cyprus and has been tried out in Slovenia and Hungary. In experiments so far the two extra officials spend much of the time behind the goal line, in the area not covered by the assistant referees (linesmen).