Warsaw: Head of referees Pierluigi Collina defended UEFA’s experimental system of extra goalline officials on Wednesday but admitted to an "unfortunate mistake" that controversially helped eliminate Ukraine from Euro 2012.
In a tournament heavy on goals and drama but relatively free of debatable decisions, Marco Devic’s disallowed effort against England on Tuesday, which television replays suggested may have crossed the line, prompted outrage from the hosts.
The goal may not have saved Ukraine from elimination anyway but the referee in charge of the game, Hungary’s Viktor Kassai, was one of four sent home on Wednesday as part of a standard pruning of officials before the quarter-finals.
Collina said it would have been "unfair" to expose Kassai to additional pressure following the row, which has prompted renewed calls for the introduction of goalline technology.
The bald-headed Italian, the game’s best-known official before his retirement in 2005, insisted the decision did not undermine a system of extra officials which has been on trial in the Champions League and elsewhere for three years.
"This was human mistake made by a human being. Nevertheless this is the only problem we had with this experiment in roughly 1000 matches played," Collina said.