Ottawa Citizen

FIFA boss Blatter ‘ satisfied’ with officials’ work in Cup

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FIFA president Sepp Blatter has praised the performanc­e of officials at this year’s World Cup despite some contentiou­s decisions and an incident in which a referee showed a player three yellow cards.

“ I am very satisfied with the referees’ performanc­es at the 2006 World Cup. They achieved more than their counterpar­ts in Korea/ Japan in 2002,” Blatter said yesterday at Zurich in a meeting of the referees committee of soccer’s world governing body.

The referees were congratula­ted for their consistent punishment of foul play, especially the use of elbows, which had reduced the number of injuries from the previous World Cup.

However, FIFA chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak said that feigning injury was rife, pointing out that 58 per cent of those treated on the pitch carried on playing.

“ The referees and assistant referees fulfilled the high expectatio­ns placed on them and complied with the instructio­ns to protect players and thus the game better,” FIFA referees committee chairman Angel Maria Villar Llona said.

KENYA BANNED INDEFINITE­LY

Kenya was handed an indefinite ban from all internatio­nal competitio­ns by FIFA yesterday, according to reports.

It is the second ban in two years for the African nation.

FIFA’s top disciplina­ry panel is reported to have suspended the country for failing to respect agreements to resolve recurrent problems in its soccer associatio­n, in particular relating to the integrity of national competitio­ns.

The panel ratified proposals issued by FIFA’s executive committee after the country failed to implement an order to unify Kenya’s two rival premier leagues into a single 18- team entity, Independen­t Kenya Television Network said.

HOOLIGANS OUT OF CONTROL

Former Argentina internatio­nal Roberto Perfumo said yesterday his country’s hooligan problem was out of control and blamed club directors for encouragin­g hard- core supporters.

Perfumo said the clubs had encouraged the “ barrabrava­s” — organized supporters clubs often accused of violence — by giving them free tickets and transport to games.

“ The Frankenste­in which they’ve created today knows no limits,” he told the sports daily Ole.

Since August, two first- division matches in Argentina have been abandoned by riots, one was called off at halftime over threats to the referee by a club president and another was postponed because of security problems.

CECH OUT OF HOSPITAL

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech left hospital yesterday, 10 days after fracturing his skull in a collision with Reading’s Stephen Hunt.

Cech needed emergency surgery to insert two metal plates in his head after the clash in English Premier League game on Oct. 14. He is expected to be back at Chelsea’s training ground next week to begin rehabilita­tion.

The 24- year- old Czech has been told it will be three months before he can expect to train normally.

INCIDENT NO TREAT FOR VALENCIA

The Spanish club Valencia could be punished after an assistant referee was hit on the head by a stick of licorice thrown from the crowd on Sunday.

The assistant suffered “ a slight graze” behind his left ear in the 86th minute of Valencia’s 1- 0 league victory over Osasuna at Mestalla stadium, referee David Fernandez Borbalan said.

Last January, Valencia was fined $ 8,500 after an assistant was cut on the face by a coin during a Copa del Rey quarterfin­al game with Deportivo La Coruna. The game was abandoned.

BITE EARNS A BOOKING

Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe will escape punishment for biting Javier Mascherano even though the Argentina midfielder says he has a mark on his arm.

Because Defoe was shown a yellow card by referee Steve Bennett during Sunday’s Premier League game against West Ham, the Football Associatio­n says it can’t take any further action against the England striker.

Tottenham manager Martin Jol described the incident as “ more like a nibble,” but Mascherano said it was far more serious.

“ I have a mark on my arm and my reaction was not theatrical like the Spurs coach suggested,” Mascherano said in yesterday’s Daily Mail.

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