May 20, 2016

AMSTERDAM (AP) Three decades after Diego Maradona scored the infamous ''Hand of God'' goal against England at the World Cup, the Dutch soccer association said Friday it is ready to be among the first to use video technology.

Soccer officials gathered in Amsterdam this week to focus on progress in tests of the technology that will give referees a helping hand in getting tough calls right, or fixing those that were wrong.

If FIFA President Gianni Infantino gets his way, referees will be able to use video replays at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, cutting down the chances of suspect goals being awarded.

Video replay officiating would be restricted to decisions on goals being scored, penalties being awarded, players being sent off and cases of mistaken identity.

But first the new technology has to be tested at a national level. It remains unclear how many countries will take part in the first phase of live testing.

Gijs de Jong of the Dutch soccer association is ready to be among the first wave. He said that offline tests of video assistant referees in the Netherlands since 2013 have been positive and the association now hopes to conduct live tests next season during the Dutch Cup competition.

De Jong said that one in four disputable calls was corrected after a video replay and that the average time for a decision was within 12 seconds, allaying fears that video referrals could significantly slow games down.

As part of the workshop in Amsterdam, the Dutch association demonstrated how it has used its technology during a playoff match on Thursday between Heracles Almelo and FC Utrecht.

''I think it helps,'' former Netherlands striker Marco van Basten told The Associated Press. ''It's something interesting. It has to improve still, but I think for the game it's good.''

Van Basten, now an assistant to national team coach Danny Blind, said one of the key areas that still has to be worked on is how far back in a play a video replay could go. Another aspect that still needs work is how the referee on the field communicates with a video assistant. A workshop is being planned to discuss that issue.

While Infantino's ambition is for video replays to check controversial calls at the World Cup, officials who ran the workshop in Amsterdam want to make sure they nail down and test clear guidelines on exactly how it will be used before deploying the technology on such a high-profile stage.

''We are not in a hurry,'' said Lukas Brud, secretary of soccer rule-making panel IFAB, adding that meeting a deadline to introduce replays in Russia in 2018 remains possible.

''I would not want to put any unnecessary pressure on the World Cup,'' Brud said. ''I think if it's available at that time, if the results show that video assistant referees bring help and bring additional fairness to the decision-making process, then maybe the World Cup would be a good stage for the first major competition to use video assistant referees.''

Asked if 2018 was realistic, he said: ''This is a question that we would like to give back to the FIFA president and FIFA themselves.''

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