KEIR RADNEDGE in MOSCOW: FIFA is hoping to switch the focus on World Cup watches away from VIP giftbags and back to the referees’ wrist.
In Brazil four years ago controversy arose over the expensive luxury watches handed out to members of the world federation’s executive committee by the local association.
All were buried in gift bags. Some exco members refused to accept, some passed them directly on to the FIFA ethics committee and some – such as the then UEFA president Michel Platini – equivocated in their response.
This time around FIFA and partner Hublot went on to front foot by organising a media event around the official referees’ watch which has been called ‘Big Ben’ though it is not programmed to offer England any special advantages.
Former international referee Bjorn Kuipers was tasked with helping unveil the watch of which 110 have been issued to the refereeing teams at the World Cup. A further 2018 were sold direct by the Swiss timing company at a price of €4,950 each.
The watch incorporates both timing systems and the technology for goal-line technology. A signal that the ball has crossed the line will show in 4/10ths of a second by which time the vibrator has already kicked in.
This feature, however, is not available on the commercial sale watches.