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Coaches could challenge refs with TV replays, says soccer boss Sepp Blatter

The controversial World Cup boss appears to soften his stance on technology with proposals for TV replays aiding appeals from coaches.

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Liverpool's Steven Gerrard greet referees before a friendly in Miami ahead of the 2014/15 Premier League season. John Powell/Premier League

Football coaches and managers could challenge a referee's decisions as they happen if controversial world soccer chief Sepp Blatter gets his way after changing his mind about technology.

Blatter, head of the global football governing body FIFA, has suggested a TV replay system that would allow coaches to appeal for instant replays during the game.

Blatter proposes a TV system monitored by a neutral official from the TV company filming the game, the BBC reports. If coaches are unhappy with a decision they could appeal when play has stopped, so as not to interrupt the natural flow of the game. Coaches would be limited to one or two appeals or "calls" per half. The referee would have the opportunity to view the instant replay and change their mind about the decision, but it's not clear how long each "call" would take or how play would restart.

Blatter has suggested that TV replays could be tried out in the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand next year.

Other sports allow players and coaches to call for a review of decisions: tennis players can question as many calls as they want, up to a limit of three incorrect challenges; Major League Baseball coaches can appeal once or twice per game, depending on whether the first appeal is successful; and cricket teams have a limited number of appeals under the Umpire Decision Review System. NFL coaches can appeal by throwing a red flag onto the field.

In rodeo riding, competitors can call for officials to watch an instant replay -- as long as they pay $500 to the Professional Bull Riders organisation. If the challenge is successful, the money is returned; if not, it's forfeited to charity. Now that's the kind of system I can get behind.

The championing of TV replays represents an about-face for Blatter on the subject of technology. The 78-year-old, who has been president of FIFA since 1998, has in the past fervently resisted adding technology to the game. He repeatedly refused to allow the use of sensors that would measure whether the ball had crossed the goal line -- a stance that cost some teams, including England, after Frank Lampard clearly scored against Germany in 2010. Goal-line technology was finally adopted at this summer's 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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Not all soccer's high muckamucks are so keen to add more technology on top of goal-line sensors. Michel Platini, French midfield wizard and boss of European governing body Uefa, has previously declared himself "totally against" technology, favouring more referees keeping an eye on the action.

FIFA's Blatter is a controversial figure for a number of gaffes and persistent allegations of financial irregularities. Most recently, this summer's tournament was partially overshadowed by allegations related to FIFA's decision to award the hosting of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.