FIFA have taken swift action to calm the troubled waters of world football after the Thierry Henry scandal, announcing that from next year, all top-level matches will be refereed by a taskforce of twenty-eight officials. The system, secretly trialled at the last World Cup (see picture above), could be in place as early as January 2010, if two million new referees can be trained in time.
The authorities have been widely expected to approve calls for two new officials - one on each goalline - after successfully experimenting with such a system during this season's otherwise pointless Europa League. However, speaking from one of his palaces, FIFA President Sepp Blatter revealed that the changes would be more sweeping than anyone had anticipated. 'As well as the referees, assistants, 4th official and guys on the goallines,' Blatter told journalists, 'each player will be followed around by his own referee. Each of these referees will sit down with his personal player at various points during the match to take an audit of any shots, passes and tackles they have made. The 22 referees will then report back to the main match officials, who will collate the final score within a week of the end of the game.'
'With this simple system,' Blatter concluded, 'we hope to eradicate debates such as the one that followed France's match with Ireland, when Thierry Henry allegedly used his hand several times to control the ball, although it was very difficult to tell for certain.'
Blatter confirmed that FIFA were discussing further measures to address potential controversies. These are thought to include placing a CCTV camera inside the ball which feeds pictures back to a taskforce of MI5 and Interpol operatives; issuing each player with a PIN which he has to input into a card reader before taking a shot at goal; placing customs officials at the edge of each penalty area to ascertain the reason for players' visits; and chopping off Thierry Henry's hands.
However, Blatter said that FIFA were still reluctant to introduce video referees to check action replays of disputed goals: 'we do not feel there is any need for action as drastic as that'. Blatter added: 'Offside! Offside! Fuck's sake!... no, to be fair, he was just about level. I'm always getting those wrong.'