A blunder by Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina has inspired a minor adjustment to the role of additional assistant referees, UEFA’s chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina revealed on Thursday.
In Arsenal’s 3-2 Champions League loss at home to Olympiakos last month, Dutch goal-line official Danny Makkelie stuck his arm out to signal that Ospina had dropped a first-half corner over his own line.
Previously, additional assistant referees were restricted to making verbal communications with the match referee, but in an attempt to make their role more transparent, they will now be permitted to make arm signals in all UEFA matches.
“From tonight (Thursday’s 2016 European Championship qualifying matches), additional assistant referees are allowed to make clear hand signals when the ball is fully inside the goal,” Collina, a leading former referee, told the Leaders Sport Business Summit in London.
Collina said that rule-making body the International FA Board (IFAB) had agreed to the change at the beginning of this week.
Additional assistant referees were introduced to UEFA competitions in 2012 to rule on close goal-line calls and clamp down on penalty-area infringements.
Managers have been known to question their purpose, but Collina says they play a vital role.
“Have you ever seen a duck on the water, relaxed but paddling like hell under the water?” said the Italian. “This is the additional assistant referee.”
European governing body UEFA has backed the additional assistant referees as an alternative to goal-line technology, which is now in use in several major European leagues.
While goal-line technology has put an end to controversies about whether the ball has crossed the line, Collina says additional assistant referees perform an important role policing penalty areas.
“I think there are many incidents occurring inside the penalty area where more control is needed,” he told reporters.
“You remember what you went through in the Premier League last season in England with all those holdings and pullings at set-pieces on Saturday and Sunday? Never on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Champions League.
“If you drive your car and if you see police or a radar, you slow down.”