Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Let’s take ‘deliberately’ out of the handball law


I have a suggestion on how to clear up inconsistencies with handballs.

Law 12 states that “a direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player…handles the ball deliberately”.                                                                  

In reality, we all know this rule isn’t always applied correctly. When the ball strikes a hand or an arm which is well away from the body and all the stadium can see it, the referee will invariably give a foul whether it was deliberate or not (we can also argue whether the player is being naive by having his arms flailing about).

I think we should take ‘deliberately’ out of the law and replace it with “…gains an advantage from handling the ball”.

A perfect example was Sunday’s 2-2 draw between Torino and AC Milan. Hosts Torino scored a late equaliser from the spot after the ball hit Milan defender Kakha Kaladze on the thigh before striking his outstretched arm. 

Time to revamp player awards


This week we had the nominations for FIFA world player of the year, discovered the winner of the FIFPro world player of the year and mulled the contenders for the Ballon d’Or.

Exactly how many gongs do we need? In the recent past the situation was a bit clearer.

A long wait for a home game


As we reported earlier this week the Palestinian national football team (ranked 180th in the world) will take on Jordan (ranked 112th) in a friendly this coming Sunday.

Anywhere else in the world a friendly between two such lowly sides would not generate much media coverage but when Palestine are one of the teams and they are playing their first ever game on home soil, interest mounts and, being in the Middle East, controversy cannot be far behind.

An unnecessary Swiss trip


A South African World CupAfrica’s remaining World Cup contenders have to travel north across the Mediterranean, over the Alps and on to Zurich next week to find out who they meet in the battle for places at the 2010 finals.

How ridiculous is it that the draw for the last phase of the African preliminaries will take place in the Swiss city ahead of a first-ever African World Cup and at a time when FIFA is trumpeting all sorts of African initiatives.

Messi takes a step closer to Beijing


Messi scoresBarcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi took a step closer to Beijing on Wednesday when FIFA ruled that clubs are obliged to release players aged 23 or under to play at the Olympics.

Barcelona and Bundesliga clubs Werder Bremen and Schalke, who want to keep Diego and Rafinha out of the Games, will probably fight on in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but for now FIFA has made the right decision, one that’s for the good of the game as well as the Games.

Diego the latest to be blocked from Games



Werder Bremen have dashed the Olympic hopes of Brazil playmaker Diego, telling the 23-year-old they will not release him and thus depriving the Games of perhaps one of the world’s most exciting young players

Werder sporting director Klaus Allofs said there was no legal reason for clubs to release their players because, he said, the Olympics are not part of world soccer’s governing body FIFA.

Friday afternoon question: Does 6 + 5 equal nothing but trouble?


Blatter listens

FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s plans to limit the number of foreign players in a team, otherwise known as the “6+5″ rule, received overwhelming backing at FIFA’s congress in Sydney on Friday.

His plans, which would see clubs allowed to field a maximum of five foreign players, are contradictory to European Union laws and Brussels has already warned of legal action against any country which allows this rule to be implemented. Many national associations, leagues and clubs also say the plan is unfair and unworkable.

So Flamengo, what was all the altitude fuss about?


For the last year, Brazilian club Flamengo have led an almost obsessive campaign for a ban on matches at high altitude. Following a match away to Bolivian side Real Potosi at 4,000 metres above sea level in the Libertadores Cup, club president Marcio Braga has gone on the warpath describing high altitude games as “inhumane” and comparing them to a form of doping for the home team.

Braga has taken his case to FIFA, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and even the United Nations human rights commission — all without success. Although FIFA has effectively banned World Cup qualifiers above 2,750 metres, the South American Football Confederation has refused to follow suit for the Libertadores.

Time up for ‘futile’ friendlies


Beckham talks to the referee

My colleague Zoran Milosavljevic was enthused about Wednesday’s batch of friendlies but not everyone was so impressed. Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger both pondered the death of the international friendly after the midweek ‘action’ and they were not alone.

Other than the dramatic 4-3 victory by the Dutch, who had been trailing 3-0 to Euro 2008 co-hosts Austria, Wednesday’s games were a poor advert for mid-season international football with many players coming back injured — much to the annoyance of their club managers.