No decision yet on goal-line technology for Tokyo 2020 football tournament

By David Owen

February 13 – FIFA has yet to decide whether to use goal-line technology at next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic football tournament.

The world governing body recently circulated an 80-page handbook of regulations for the competition to national associations. This said that FIFA would “take a decision” on whether to implement goal-line technology in the final competitions “in consultation with the [International Olympic Committee] and Tokyo 2020”. The ruling would be communicated to participating national associations “in due course”.

Goal-line technology was not used at the last Olympic football tournament in Rio 2016. That tournament was though used to conduct trials on an alteration in substitution rules permitting a fourth replacement in matches that went to extra time.

The competition in Japan will consist once again of 16 men’s teams and 12 women’s. The men’s tournament is primarily for under-23s, with three over-age players again permitted.

The technical study group at Rio 2016, Carlos Alberto Parreira of Brazil and Nigeria’s Sunday Oliseh, commented that a schedule of 58 matches over 18 days was “very tight and demanding for the players”.

They wrote: “We therefore suggest that either the players be given more rest days between matches, or that teams be allowed to include more players on the list of players (eg 20 instead of the current 18).

“These improvements would help players to recover better, reduce the risk of injury and also improve performances and the quality of the game.”

In spite of this, final squads are again being limited to 18 players, with four alternates.

The maximum size of provisional player lists to be submitted by qualifying countries has, however, been increased from 35 to 50.

In another innovation, FIFA has offered to pay for economy class flights and accommodation for the head coach and administrator of qualified teams to the city where the draw is to take place.

The regulations emphasise that the “customary FIFA policy of allocating complimentary tickets to the teams for their matches” does not apply. “Should an association wish to purchase additional tickets for its own or other matches,” the regulations state, “requests should be addressed to its [National Olympic Committee]”.

The regulations also outline fairly complex rules to be used in appraising teams’ conduct for the purposes of a fair play contest. FIFA will award the winners of this contest a trophy, 25 medals, a diploma and a $10,000 voucher for equipment “to be used exclusively for youth development”.

Oddly, the Fair Play Trophies are presented by FIFA on other non-Olympic occasions, since presenting them in the stadium at the end of the gold medal matches would “contravene Olympic protocol”.

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