Archive for the ‘ World Cup 2010 ’ Category

A dangerous line to follow

In my time at FIFA and at the Scottish FA I have attended 16 Annual General Meetings of the International FA Board as well as Business Meetings and meetings of the Technical Sub-Committee.

I therefore take a keen interest in what is being discussed at the law making body of world football.

The Agenda for the 126th Annual General Meeting has its usual mixture of major and minor proposals, often promoted by members of the Board who are only acting as a vehicle for other interest groups whether or not they agree and indeed will support the proposals when it comes to the vote.

It is not unusual for a member of the Board to propose a certain amendment and say at the same time that it does not expect the amendment to be approved and indeed would be happy if it was rejected.

The Board member can therefore say to its constituent that it did raise a certain matter but it was rejected by the other ‘bad guys’.

I believe, and hope, the proposal of the Football Association to propose modifications to the Notes on the Laws of the Game – Modifications fits into this category.

Basically it proposes to allow modifications to the substitution procedures in all football except ‘the most senior domestic competition of a member association’.

Does this phrase mean the national cup is more important than the national league or vice versa? Which one would the modification apply to?

By my reading of the text, in any but the top national competition, this could allow any number of substitutions as well as rolling substitutes when players could be substituted and then return to the field of play later in the match.

If this proposal were to be accepted it could alter the whole concept of football worldwide regarding substitutions.

It could cause chaos and should be strongly resisted by the other members of the IFAB

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FIFA crisis? Form a Task Force

Following the FIFA Executive Committee Meeting on 21st October, President Sepp Blatter announced to the world that he would support the documents prepared by the High Court in the Swiss canton of Zug relating to the collapse of the marketing company ISL being made public.

This was a massive about turn by Blatter considering FIFA had done everything in its power to keep these papers secret over a number of years.

The documents are alleged to show that illegal payments had been made to high ranking FIFA office bearers.

By agreeing to make the 42-page file public, FIFA has taken a step forward. But not too big a step.

The FIFA Executive Committee only agreed to release the file and it is now for the lawyers to work out which parts will be released to the public and when they can actually be made available.

FIFA has also announced that the document will be passed to an independent body which will investigate any officials involved in any wrongdoing.

Who is on this independent body and when it will meet are unclear but it is expected to report by the end of the year.

If this report is as damning as has been suggested, high level heads should role at FIFA.

But will they?

FIFA has had more Task Forces than NATO.

They are used as vehicles to take contentious subjects for a long walk before they get lost in the long grass.

The new task forces that Blatter will set up also look at governance, suitability for office, ethics and a regulatory group.

Blatter has been in charge of FIFA, either as General Secretary or President for nearly 30 years.

The troubles have happened on his watch but few decisive actions have been taken.

The pressure is now building up however.

In May 2011 he said that there was no crisis in FIFA.

Recent events suggest there is.

Send for the task force!

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Thanks for visiting my World Cup Blog.

I have enjoyed posting the articles about different aspects of the tournament and I hope you found them interesting.

There were over 50,000 hits on the site over the course of the four weeks and the readers came from all over the world.

Although the World Cup Blog will finish I will continue to post regular articles about different football topics on the site.

I hope you will have a look at them.

Best wishes.

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The Kaiser speaks sense

Franz Beckenbauer will always be remembered as the ‘Kaiser’, the majestic German captain who strolled through the game, breaking out from defence to set up attacking situations with ease and skill.

He is now one of football’s most respected elder statesmen not only as the man who won the 2006 FIFA World Cup for Germany but also as a member of the FIFA Executive Committee and possibly the next President of FIFA in 2015.

His authoritative thoughts on the game must be listened to.

He has seen the much debated English goal in the 1966 World Cup Final at very close hand and he has seen the goal which was not awarded to England in the match against Germany. In his opinion both decisions were wrong.

It does not affect his opinion on technology in the game however.

He argues that football is too unique to follow other sports where technology is used.

 “Rugby is a different game, there is an interruption every two minutes, also in American football,” he adds. “Our soccer is a moving game, play, play, play, move, move, you don’t interrupt.”

“I think it is a very difficult one because most of the decisions are very, very close. Who will decide? At the end the people have to decide. Technology would mean too many interruptions.”

If change has to come Beckenbauer will accept UEFA President Michel Platini’s idea of having two extra referees behind each goal, an experiment used in last year’s Europa League.

“They have an agreement with FIFA to do another test for the next two years in the Europa and Champions Leagues, then we will see but I’m in favour of these two extra referees behind the goal,” says Beckenbauer.

“If that system was in place, the additional referee would have spotted the Thierry Henry incident which enabled France to beat Ireland and qualify for 2010. He would also have spotted the Lampard goal.”

The Lampard controversy has forced FIFA president Sepp Blatter to look again at the issue of technology but few expect major change. Beckenbauer thinks that is right and he remains a deep football conservative.

It is reassuring to hear this voice of reason and authority in the face of a media demanding radical change without thinking of the long term consequences for the game.

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The answer to FIFA’s refereeing problems

After the controversy about refereeing standards during the World Cup, José-Maria Garcia Aranda, the FIFA Manager of the World Cup Referees, stated to a sceptical media that the refereeing performances had been very good and their accuracy rate was 96%.

This percentage is not good enough when a more talented decision-maker whose accuracy rate is 100% is available.

FIFA must now forget about goal line technology, video replays, extra assistants and penalty goals. It must appoint Paul the octopus as the world’s first FIFA Octopus Referee.

Paul has decided correctly all the German results in the tournament. His credibility was on the line when he predicted that Germany would lose to Serbia. There was talk that he would appear on the menu of a Hamburg restaurant for his lack of patriotism but despite the intense pressure, he stuck to his decision and was proved correct. Video replays confirmed that Germany had lost 1-0.

He also predicted that Spain would beat Netherlands in the Final.

Think on the benefits he would have brought to the World Cup.

He could never be accused of having his two hands tied behind his back because he was forced by FIFA to referee in a certain way. He has another six available.

When there was a midfield clash in the Final he would have used two arms to hold Marc Van Bommel, another two to hold back protesting Spanish defender Carles Puyol, two to lift up Xabi Alonso, one to blow his whistle and the remaining one to show the red card to Van Bommel.

He is the ultimate multi-tasker.

Why did no-one think on this before?

There is a drawback, however.

He would not have been able to award England the Frank Lampard goal.


He was born in England, lives in Germany and so FIFA would not have appointed him to this match.

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The circus leaves town

The airports in South Africa will be at full stretch today as fans, teams, media and officials leave for home.

The FIFA World Cup which began a month ago has finished. Now the circus is leaving town.

Those leaving will have vivid memories of their time in the country. The security fear before the tournament was unfounded and the South Africans were welcoming and colourful hosts.

The best team won in a tournament that had a mixture of good and bad on the field.

The stadia built for the tournament were spectacular. FIFA knows how to organise a World Cup and they made sure that these stadia of the highest standard.

But what happens now, after the party is over?

This is a problem for all countries which host the major international events such as the World Cup or the Olympic Games.

Will the stadia which were needed for the event still be fully used after it has finished? The answer in most cases is no.

Will they become expensive white elephants which have still to be fed from local financial resources when the circus has finished? The answer is often yes.

The joint hosting of the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan meant that 20 stadia were required.

Some of the ten stadia in Korea were newly built for the tournament but were used for just two matches. After the tournament they were too big for local needs and some were actually pulled down.

The spectacular Birds Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, centrepiece of the 2008 Olympic Games is not used fully today.

The decision to select South Africa as the hosts for the 2010 FIFA World Cup was both political and emotional. After its surprise defeat for the 2006 nomination by Germany, FIFA had promised to deliver the World Cup to Africa and although there were other African candidates, the only winner was going to be South Africa.

The massive sums used in building the stadia and infrastructure for the World Cup will only be money well spent if it can bring long term benefit to the country not just provide four weeks of worldwide limelight.

The circus has left town but hopefully it has left behind more than colourful memories.

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The 2010 FIFA World Cup Final was not without its controversies, as you would expect.

The first 15 minutes must have seemed like an eternity for referee Howard Webb as both teams sized each other up, often illegally and with no little aggression.

His game plan was clearly to avoid booking a player too early, even if the offence might have suggested otherwise. By the time the match had gone 30 minutes he had five cautions and the signs were that players were not going to get the warning.

In the entire match there were 47 fouls committed and a total of 14 yellow cards issued, two of them to John Heittinga of Netherlands who was sent off during extra time.

What a contrast with the Spain v Germany semi final when there were 16 fouls in 90 minutes and no yellow or red cards. In the Netherlands v Uruguay semi final there were 31 fouls and 5 yellow cards. 

The pressure of the occasion obviously had an effect on the players’ attitude but possibly the main reason for the high crime count was the playing styles of the teams and how they matched up to each other.  

Spain love to keep possession but when they lose possession they challenge aggressively to regain it with a strong pressing game.

They were the artists with the skill, but like all artists they can be temperamental, and they were guilty of many heavy challenges.

Netherlands, on the other hand were the artisans, a more physical side who were prepared to ‘win dirty.’ When the opponents have so much possession of the ball, challenges to regain possession are regular and as it turned out regularly over-physical.

The better team won and it was a good result for football.

 The Dutch no longer play the Total Football of yesteryear and the artists of Spain are now deservedly crowned the best team in the worldF

Howard Webb was in a very difficult situation and will no doubt look back on the match with mixed emotions. He might have sent off Dutch defender Nigel De Jong in 28 minutes for a high footed challenge on Xabi Alonso but in the end chose to issue only a yellow card.

He was in a no-win situation. If he sends off three players he is accused of wasting the Final, if he doesn’t he is still accused of wasting the Final.

He will never have a more difficult match to referee in terms of both the occasion and the attitude of the players – but forever he is a FIFA World Cup Final Referee.

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No Google on this Webb

Search engines like Google give us all instant access to information. Choose a subject and within milliseconds you have thousands of answers to you question.

Unless the question is “How do you prepare to referee a World Cup Final?”

Howard Webb will need no help in finding out from Google how to prepare for the match tonight.

His preparation has been going on for years of course since he started refereeing. As he gained more experience and gained promotion so he became familiar with the many attributes needed to be a top referee.

These qualities were the ones which saw him selected for the World Cup in the first place and now he has been appointed to the Final, the ultimate achievement for any referee.

The preparation for the Final will be a continuation of what has been taking place at the Referee Headquarters in Pretoria.

Howard and his team will have examined DVDs of the two teams over and over again to look at their tactics, the players in the teams, the way they set up at set pieces and so on.

The coaches of Spain and Netherlands will have done exactly the same in preparing their teams for tonight’s match.

‘If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’

Howard Webb and his team will be well prepared

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Mistakes galore – and a great game

The play off matches for third and fourth place in most tournaments are usually easily forgettable but this was not the case with the match between Germany and Uruguay in Port Elizabeth last night.

The match had players showing off their considerable skills on a dreadful wet evening and both teams were playing to win.

Five goals were scored and every one was the result of a mistake.

The first German goal was the fault of Uruguay goalkeeper Muslera who failed to hold on to a long range shot from German captain Schweinsteiger and Mueller was quick to push the ball home. Uruguay equalised when Schweinsteiger lost the ball inside his opponents’ half and the Uruguay forward Cavani scored on the quick break.

Poor defending on the left flank by Germany allowed Forlan to volley home a cross to make it 2-1 for Uruguay before Uruguay goalkeeper made his second mistake of the night when he failed to cut out a long cross and Jansen headed into an empty net.

The final goal came when Uruguay captain Lugano lost his bearings when trying to man mark at a corner kick and the ball came off his leg for Khedira to head the winning goal.

But it was a great match to watch. Without the mistakes there would have been no goals.

Mistakes are part of football and accepted as such – unless you are a referee.

If five goals in a match were caused by refereeing errors, the referee would have been sacked and FIFA would already be holding a public enquiry.

Mistakes are part of football – that is why it is the greatest game in the world.

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If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it

Recently we have had the controversy over Frank Lampard’s non-awarded goal against Germany. Another topic which has gathered pace in the media is the awarding of a penalty goal for instances such as the handball by Luis Suarez of Uruguay in the last minute of extra time which prevented Ghana reaching the World Cup semi final.

The cry now is for the Law to be changed and a penalty goal awarded.

About 18 years ago the Laws of the Game were changed to give an automatic red card to a player who illegally prevented a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.

It was a sensible change since previously the offence was punished on its individual merit rather than the consequences of the offence.

It is a step too far, however, to introduce a penalty goal into football and must be avoided at all costs.

Of course everyone sympathised with Ghana but we should not consider changing the Laws because of a single high profile incident.

There was similar outrage about the handball by Thiery Henry in the play-off match between France and the Republic of Ireland. He did not prevent a goal, he created one. Everyone sympathised with the Irish for the injustice but it was not a reason to change the Laws.

In my opinion, also, it was not a reason to bring Henry in front of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for what, in the final analysis, was a hand ball – but that is another matter.

Think of the consequences of awarding a penalty goal. . A player illegally preventing a goal would be automatically sent off and a goal awarded. What about a player who prevents an obvious goal-scoring opportunity? Is this also a red card and a penalty goal?

Or should it be a yellow card and a penalty goal?

No. Avoid the sensational, over the top reaction. Keep the Law as it is.

If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it!

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