Dubai: The investment in football technology is reaping huge benefits.

That was the opinion of Marcello Lippi, Felix Brych and Pierluigi Collina who discussed the topic of ‘Football Development and the Impact of Technology’ during the Dubai International Sports Conference at the Madinat Jumeirah Hotel on Thursday.

Collina, who has been president of the Fifa Referees Committee since January 2017 and who was named best Referee of the Year six consecutive times expressed the need to bring innovation into football. “Game is getting faster, positioning is very important for referees. Today we see big change in the way referees are controlling the game,” he said.

Collina was instrumental in promoting the use of additional referee and collaborating with Fifa in the experimentation of Video Assistant Referees (VAR).

Elaborating on the need for VAR, Collina said: “The target (of VAR) is to protect the referees by avoiding mistakes which affect the outcome of the match. The referee will always be the final decision maker and should be supported. The interpretation must still be his.”

Brych, who is one of the most respected referees and was appointed to referee one of the most important games of the season in the final between Juventus and Real Madrid in Cardiff on June 3, feels “Football has changed and hence everything has to change.”

Lippi, who is the coach who led Italy to the their fourth World Cup victory in Germany in 2006 and who has taken up the new challenge of managing China feels that young players should be taught very early to respect referees. “Players have to respect referees and that must start from youth sector especially good behaviour towards referees. You have to create a culture for football.”

Referring to his Chinese experience, Lippi said: “There were some problems in China as to how to have good relationship with referees. I always tried to convey a sense of respect for referees from the players. In China there are 25,000 schools and academies teaching football and the habit has to begin from there. “

Lippi concluded by saying: “Support from technology is a must. One the ways for referees is to study the movements of each player in advance. This will help to make right decision.”

Collina who wanted the trend of players crowding around the referees to be ended, said: “The attitude on the field of play, in terms of respect, has improved a lot. We need to continue.”