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FIFA aims to avoid errors with video review, not perfection

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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) Not perfect, but good enough to avoid game-changing referee mistakes at the World Cup.

Football’s governing body set out its aims for an experimental video review system ahead of live trials at the Confederations Cup starting on Saturday.

“To eliminate a clear scandal in football, the mistake that after many years you still remember,” FIFA’s head of refereeing Massimo Busacca said Thursday of technology designed to help referees avoid and correct errors within seconds.

FIFA wants video review approved next year before the World Cup to help decide key incidents: goals scored, penalty awards, red cards and cases of mistaken identity.

Still, video-assisted decisions this month at the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea and international friendly matches have been widely debated.

“I think the quality of the decisions are very high, never perfect,” FIFA technical director Marco van Basten said at a briefing in the St. Petersburg stadium that will host the Confederations Cup’s opening game and final.

FIFA will also use the eight-nation World Cup rehearsal tournament to stress themes it wants to be more widely accepted in one year’s time, including more actual playing time.

Referees must add more stoppage time for excessive goal celebrations and time-wasting by goalkeepers, because “the audience wants to see action,” Van Basten said.

Video review, however, is likely to define refereeing success at a World Cup that kicks off just 18 months after the 2016 Club World Cup was the first FIFA tournament to have live trials.

At the Under-20 World Cup, one decision causing confusion after advice from referee assistants watching replays was a red card for an Italy defender in a quarterfinals win over Zambia.

The referee awarded a penalty for an apparent foul by the goalkeeper, then was told to award a free kick and send off the defender for a challenge seconds earlier. Replays provoked doubt if the Zambia forward was fouled at all.

“We still have to improve of course,” said Busacca. “We are not afraid. We don’t have many hours to instruct but the top referees are really learning very fast.”

The nine referees on FIFA duty in Russia includes Damir Skomina, the Slovenian who handled the Champions League final, and Mark Geiger of the United States, who worked at the 2014 World Cup. FIFA appointed 25 refereeing teams to the last World Cup.

A lesson from South Korea – where 12 decisions were made on review in a 52-game tournament – is the need for faster judgments.

“In some situations we are taking too long, we know,” acknowledged Busacca, who has previously set a target of six seconds.

Busacca said FIFA also wants video review to be “an incredible tool of prevention” and singled out a red card at the Under-20 World Cup for an Argentina forward for striking an opponent with an elbow.

“Be careful, a camera is following you,” Busacca said FIFA is telling players in Russia. “We are talking with teams -don’t do it.”

Teams have also been warned that FIFA wants referees to be strict with players crowding around them to influence decision, and goalkeepers who hold the ball for more than six seconds.

“We have asked referees to remind goalkeepers that this rule still exists,” said Van Basten, who showed footage of Italy’s goalkeeper taking 21 seconds to release the ball against Zambia.

Van Basten said he believes “no one will complain” when referees add on longer periods of stoppage time, especially in the second half.

While FIFA has learned from other sports which adopted video review much earlier, it is not ready to follow the NFL or rugby in having referees announce their decisions or be wired for sound to broadcast how they reach a decision.

“We don’t have to explain immediately why we make a decision,” Van Basten said. “It is important to show it on the screens and let the people know what is the reason. That is enough.”

Klopp: Liverpool “not 500 miles away” from Man City’s standard

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Jurgen Klopp remains bullish on his Liverpool’s credentials as one of the Premier League’s top-four sides title challengers this season.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview — Spurs vs. Liverpool ]

While everyone else might be writing off the Reds due to their propensity for defensive disasters on an every-game basis, Klopp refuses to concede that a gap of “500 miles” exists between his side and Manchester City, the early-days runaway leaders of the 2017-18 season — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t compare City with us, but I think everyone can see we are not 500 miles away. But they fly. It was a very decisive day when we lost 5-0. Dealing with a 5-0 defeat is not the easiest thing. We didn’t lose confidence but we were not that fluent afterwards and it was not like we could close our eyes and finish [thinking about it]. They did exactly the opposite. I saw the Stoke goals, you see the shot from Fernandinho and you think, ‘If it works, it works even like this.’ They are a fantastic team and we don’t have to compare, but it starts so early again with us having to apologize for the season so far because one team is flying.”

“Their way of football I would say is not something we are too far away from but to be as clinical as they have been so far? We weren’t.

“That’s the thing. We are still in the race, not with City in the moment because they have I don’t how many points, and I don’t say already that we should only fight for a top-four place. Performance-wise we are a team that should be there but now we have to get the results.”

[ TACTICS SESSION: Inside the brilliant mind of Kevin De Bruyne ]

All due respect to Klopp and Liverpool, the league table says City currently have 25 points (having played one game more), while Liverpool have 13. That’s not a difference of 500 points, but taking into account not only results but performances, it might as well be.

Ligue 1: Falcao, Balde score to keep Monaco close to PSG

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PARIS (AP) French champion Monaco got back to winning ways with a 2-0 home win against Caen on Saturday.

Monaco lost three and drew one of its previous four games in all competitions. But coach Leonardo Jardim’s side was largely in control against a Caen side that started brightly and faded after Keita Balde’s opening goal and first for Monaco.

“It was important to win, to get a bit of confidence back,” Jardim said. “We’ve been working hard and the players were very serious today.”

Captain Radamel Falcao scored his league-leading 13th from the penalty spot in the 59th, confidently sending goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre the wrong way.

The win moved second-place Monaco within three points of Paris Saint-Germain, having played one game more. Unbeaten PSG is away at bitter rival Marseille on Sunday.

Falcao’s partnership with teen star Kylian Mbappe was crucial to Monaco’s charge to the league title and the Champions League semifinals last season. Mbappe left to join PSG in a high-profile move — as did several other key players — but Falcao’s new partnership with the unselfish Balde looks a promising one.

“We’ve lost a few players and we need a bit of time, it’s been a bit difficult for us,” Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic said. “I hope we can stay at the top of the table and that the young players can shine. We have a lot of quality here.”

Balde has been sharp in his handful of appearances since joining from Lazio in the offseason, but mainly as a link player and a provider.

This time, the Senegal forward finished off the move as he ran onto Thomas Lemar’s perfectly weighted pass into his path, cut across a defender on the edge of the penalty area and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.

Lemar almost created another goal when his corner was headed against the crossbar by Brazilian defender Jemerson late in the first half.

Falcao put the game beyond doubt from the spot after Slovenian midfielder Jan Repas fouled attacking midfielder Rony Lopes.


After a tricky start to his tenure at Nantes, Italian coach Claudio Ranieri has turned things around.

Nantes beat Guingamp 2-1 at home to move up to third place, extending Ranieri’s unbeaten run to eight matches after losing the first two.

Nantes, which scored through defender Chidozie Awaziem and midfielder Abdoulaye Toure, is just two points behind Monaco.

The 2 Robbies: Terriers Triumph And Chelsea Leave It Late

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe start today’s show off by discussing Huddersfield Town’s surprising win against Manchester United (00:20), Jose Mourinho’s measured post-match interview (03:50), praise Manchester City again (10:30), discuss Sean Dyche’s next move (16:10), analyze that exciting match between Chelsea and Watford (18:30) and finally, weigh in on Slaven Bilic’s future at West Ham United (27:30).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

La Liga: Barca win to maintain lead, but Valencia won’t go away

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona regained a four-point cushion atop the Spanish league with a ho-hum 2-0 win over visiting Malaga and surging Valencia dismissed Sevilla 4-0 at home on Saturday.

Barcelona faced last-placed Malaga in the closing match of the day, with added pressure from second-placed Valencia, which has won five in a row.

Barcelona is unbeaten after starting with seven straight wins and drawing with Atletico Madrid last week.

Seldom-used Gerard Deulofeu opened the scoring for Barcelona after just two minutes, and Andres Iniesta celebrated his first of the season in the second half thanks to a brilliant assist by Lionel Messi.

Defending champion Real Madrid hosts Eibar on Sunday.

Barcelona benefited from a flagrant referee misjudgment to get its go-ahead goal against Malaga. Left back Lucas Digne was allowed to center the ball after it clearly crossed the byline, and Deulofeu acrobatically back-footed it inside the net.

Despite the blow, the visitors got back up and managed to neutralize Barcelona for most of the first half, but lost striker Diego Rolan just before the second period. The Uruguayan import was forced off by injury.

Without Rolan, Malaga lacked bite in its pressure of the home backline, and Barcelona was able to polish ball circulation and find Messi with more frequency.

Messi received a clean pass from defender Javier Mascherano, drew the defense, and dropped a perfect pass for Iniesta, whose shot was deflected by defender Roberto Rosales on its way to the upper left corner.

Malaga surrendered and Barcelona dominated the rest of the way.


Gonzalo Guedes opened the scoring for Valencia near halftime with a majestic strike from outside the box after deftly outmaneuvering two defenders on the chase.

Simone Zaza added his eighth league goal after the break with a spin and low cross shot. Santi Mina came off the bench and scored the third with just five minutes to go, finishing off a speedy counterattack for the hosts.

But the show was all Guedes, and the Portuguese midfielder rounded off his great game with the closer, subtly poking the ball over goalkeeper Sergio Rico in added time.

Sevilla has lost three in a row in all competitions. Managed by Eduardo Berizzo, the team started off red-hot in La Liga but has floundered lately, ranking fifth.