Manchester United Blunder Fuels Fire for Soccer Video Replay System

LONDON (From Associated Press) - Microchip sensors and video replays could be coming soon to world soccer.

The push for introduction of technology intensified after a blatant mistake in Tuesday night's Premier League game between Manchester United and Tottenham.

Man U goalkeeper Roy Carroll fumbled a 60-yard (meter) kick from Tottenham's Pedro Mendes. The ball caromed off his chest and bounced a yard behind the goal line before Carroll hooked the ball back into play.

Almost everyone in the 67000 sellout crowd at Old Trafford saw it was a goal. So did millions on TV. Radio announcers screamed "goal." The only people who missed it were referee Mark Clattenburg and linesman Robert Lewis.

The 89th-minute goal that never was could have given Tottenham a 1-0 win. Instead the game ended 0-0. Long an opponent of electronic gizmos in the game even Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was convinced by this one.

"I think it hammers home what a lot of people have been asking for and that's that technology should play a part in the game said Ferguson whose team fell 11 points behind league-leading Chelsea. "The ball was clearly over the line."

Tottenham's Dutch manager Martin Jol was fuming.

"We are not talking about the ball being a couple of centimeters or an inch or two over the line he said. "It was a meter inside the goal."

"I can understand it but it's still a disgrace playing football in 2005. We have so much technology in the world and in football you have to watch this after the game. It's a pity."

The blunder was so stark that British bookmakers William Hill said they would pay off any bettor who placed money on Mendes to score first in the game -- a 20-1 shot -- or to score at all -- an 11-2 shot.

"This is probably the most bizarre incident ever to occur in the Premiership Hill said in a statement calling it a "one-in-a-million fluke situation."

Britain's newspapers were filled with the same photo on Wednesday: Carroll wearing No. 13 stretching his torso across the goal line to reach for the ball.

"Cheated blared a huge headline in the Sun.

"Spurs robbed in no-goal farce said the Mirror.

Coincidentally new goal-line technology could be tried out in the English League Cup final next month. Chelsea or Manchester United will face Liverpool or Watford in Cardiff Wales on Feb. 27.

In an interview in the current edition of France Football magazine FIFA president Sepp Blatter said a system invented by German ball manufacturer Adidas could be used on an experimental basis in the game. Similar to the "cyclops" technology already used in tennis the system involves sensors on the goal line and a microchip in the ball.

Any rule change to world soccer must be approved by the International Football Association Board which meets Feb. 26 in Cardiff.

"The rules of the game are universal from Birmingham to Burundi FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren said Wednesday. "Any rule change would take some time. You have to see if the new technology is viable worldwide. It's a protracted process."

England's Football Association seems to be in favor.

"The FA is willing to discuss and consider any form of goal-line technology that would improve decision-making while not disturbing the game the FA said in a statement.

"The key factor is whether a message can be transmitted immediately to the referee allowing him to take an immediate decision without interrupting play."

Video replays on goal-line decisions are also being considered an approach supported by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Few are calling for videos on disputed penalties or offside calls.

"That was a great example Wenger said. "A video recording would have shown in five seconds that it was a goal."

American football uses video replays successfully. But the American game is already filled with stops and starts. Cricket and rugby also use it to assist referees.

Soccer has resisted video technology because it may disrupt the flow of play. That may change with new technology capable of resolving a dispute in 30 seconds.

"Thirty-seconds is about the same amount of time it takes to organize a free kick or take a corner or a goal kick Ferguson said. "So you couldn't be wasting a lot of time.""