Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

With technology binned, maybe players should just stop cheating

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Players and coaches are going to have to grin (or rather whinge) and bear it after football’s rule-makers decided that preserving the game’s essence and traditions are more important than the grievances of a few unlucky losers.

Controversies such as Geoff Hurst’s third goal for England in the 1966 World Cup final, Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal at the 1986 World Cup and, more recently, Thierry Henry’s ball-juggling effort against Ireland, are etched into football’s history.

FIFA believes the sport would not be the same without them — hence Saturday’s decision by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), on which FIFA holds half of the eight votes, to reject the use of goal line and video technology indefinitely.

Most media, coaches and players have been in favour of at least using some form of technology to help the referees in cases where it is not clear whether the ball has crossed the line and FIFA can expect widespread criticism for the decision.

Blatter bluster comes to nothing…for now

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Sepp Blatter conjured up a lot of bluster about the state of the game, in the wake of the Thierry Henry handball and the match fixing arrests.

His call for an extraordinary meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee promised some extraordinary decisions and was followed at the start of the week with the firm hint fundamental change was in the offing.

Back on Robben Island — the men who changed the game

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The year 1964 was a highly significant one in the fight against Apartheid: Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island and FIFA suspended South Africa from football because of the legalised racist policies of its Government.

If anyone had suggested then that one day FIFA’s Executive Committee would meet on the outcrop off the coast of Cape Town on the eve of the draw for South Africa’s World Cup, they would have been derided as a fantasist.

UPDATE: Ireland plead for World Cup slot as the 33rd team

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Sepp Blatter revealed this morning that Ireland have appealed to FIFA to be allowed to compete as a 33rd team in next year’s World Cup.

“I will bring it to the attention of the Executive Committee,” Blatter told (stunned) journos. “I cannot confirm what will happen, but I will report it.”

Hand of Henry goal makes strong case for video evidence

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France’s decisive goal against Ireland in their World Cup play-off will only add further weight to the case for using a video ref, or extra goal-line officials, at least in the biggest matches.

The controversial extra-time strike from William Gallas took France through to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while leaving the Irish barely able to contain a sense of frustration and injustice.

Should FIFA throw the book at Maradona for outburst?

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Argentina coach Diego Maradona will appear in person before a disciplinary hearing at FIFA headquarters on Sunday to explain his foul-mouthed outbursts (plural) following the win over Uruguay in Montevideo last month.

The result, at the very end of an 18-match campaign, finally clinched Argentina’s place at the 2010 World Cup after they had looked in serious danger of missing out for the first time since 1970. Maradona “celebrated” with an expletive-laden tirade at the hapless touchline reporter who went to interview him.

Usual suspects will be at the World Cup, but would we have missed them?

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So now we know which European teams are in the World Cup playoffs and we have a pretty good idea of the seedings, though FIFA’s updated rankings out at the end of the week will provide confirmation ahead of Monday’s draw.

It looks like Russia, France, Greece and Portugal will be the seeded teams with Ukraine, Ireland, Bosnia and Slovenia playing them. After Argentina’s qualification in the final match against Uruguay, it looks increasingly likely that all the big teams will be there in South Africa.

Is seeding the World Cup play-offs playing fair?

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For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and for every FIFA marketing slogan there is a subsequent decision that can make fans wonder if world football’s governing body is being serious.

Fair Play Please” is the current favourite but how, exactly, does that square with the decision to make the European zone World Cup playoffs a seeded affair?

Chelsea banned from signing players – your views

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Premier League club Chelsea have been banned from registering any new players for the next two transfer windows, FIFA said on Thursday.

“Chelsea are banned from registering any new players, either nationally or internationally, for the two next entire and consecutive registration periods following the notification of the present decision,” a FIFA statement said.

Nigeria grabs age cheats by the wrists

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The decision by Nigeria to test their under-17 players to eliminate age cheats is the first step in ridding African soccer of a long-standing blight.

Nigeria Football Federation president Sani Lulu Abdallah has said this week his organisation will take the unprecedented step of measuring the bone density of players by use of an MRI scan, usually done around the wrist area, to approximate whether they are roughly the right age or not.

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