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Technology won't end referee rows, says NFL chief

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Atlanta (AFP)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell warned Wednesday that expanded use of technology could not eliminate officiating controversies in the wake of the furore over the blunder which cost the New Orleans Saints a place in the Super Bowl.

Addressing journalists at his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference, Goodell expressed sympathy with Saints fans following the team's 26-23 overtime defeat to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC title game on Jan 20.

The Saints were beaten after a missed pass interference call late in the game which would in all probability have handed them victory had it been given.

Goodell said while the NFL's competition committee would study ways of preventing a repeat of the debacle, he emphasised that mistakes in a game refereed by human beings were inevitable.

"Our officials are human, and they're officiating a game that moves very quickly," Goodell said. "They're not going to get it right all the time.

"We have worked very hard to bring technology in to try to make sure we can do whatever is possible to address those issues, but technology is not going to solve all those issues.

"The game is not officiated by robots, and it's not going to be."

Goodell confirmed however that the NFL would study the expanded use of instant replay. Currently pass interference offences are not reviewable because they are seen as matters of judgement.

Goodell also pointed out that New Orleans incident involved a non-call.

"Our coaches have been very resistant, and there has not been support to date about having a replay official or somebody in New York throw a flag when there is no flag," Goodell said.

"They have not voted for that in the past. We will put it to the competition committee, but the reality is there has been philosophical opposition to that by many clubs."

While all options remain on the table, Goodell was sceptical about whether adding an eighth referee to the officiating team was a viable solution.

"I don't think adding an official is an answer, and particularly this issue," he said.

"We have evaluated an eighth official for many years. We will explore that. But adding an eighth official is one more human, which is one more human that may mistakes like all the rest of us."

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