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Ex-UEFA boss: Game is for 'humans, not robots'

STOCKHOLM — Former UEFA president Lennart Johansson believes goal-line technology has no place in soccer, saying the game is for "humans and not for robots."

In an interview with The Associated Press, Johansson also backed England's bid for the 2018 World Cup and criticized the standard of play at this year's World Cup. He also said Wayne Rooney had failed as a role model by becoming caught up in a sex scandal.

The 80-year-old Swede held European soccer's top job for 17 years.

Johansson said his successor Michel Platini, who took over in 2007, made the right decision by rejecting calls for the introduction of technology to determine whether the ball crossed the goal line. Platini has chosen instead to experiment with two extra officials behind each goal in this season's Champions League matches.

"I believe in the idea that Platini put forward when he said we could have two extra men on the field," Johansson said. "Perhaps two referees, but then one behind each goal standing there watching, who could see immediately when the ball is inside the line or not."

Johansson said that human error is an inevitable part of soccer, and should be viewed with less fuss and more perspective.

"I face facts that referees are human and humans make mistakes," he said. "This is a game for humans and not for robots."

Johansson said he would have encouraged UEFA's executive committee to back England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup if he still held the presidency.

"It's time now for England, they haven't had it since 1966," he said. "They can for sure arrange it, they know how to do it. It would make sense if you look at the sequence of World Cups."

Also in the 2018 race are the United States, Russia and joint bids from Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium. FIFA will select the winner in December.

Johansson said that the United States would be a good venue for the 2022 World Cup, but would have to reduce traveling times and distances between match venues compared to when it hosted the tournament in 1994.

Johansson said he was still surprised by the lack of quality on display at the recent World Cup in South Africa.

"It was nothing that you will remember," Johansson said. "The tempo, the technique and the scoring was not what I expected."

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