Blatter Talks About Officiating
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Despite numerous complaints about officiating at the World Cup, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Thursday he could live with human error if the alternative was an attempt at robot-like accuracy.
``If our game is becoming scientific, then we will take away its emotion and nobody would have any discussion any longer if it was offside, not offside; if it was inside, not inside the penalty box,″ Blatter said.
``No. This would destroy an essential element in this game _ and this is emotion,″ he said.
Some of the countries eliminated have already shown plenty of emotion.
Spain and Italy top a list of countries that believe they were eliminated from the World Cup by bad officiating. Some went as far as suggesting there was a conspiracy against them.
Others have proposed the introduction of television cameras and instant replays to rule on various infractions _ from balls out of play to offside to handballs or penalty box fouls.
But Blatter said it would not happen in his term as FIFA president.
``As long as I have the privilege and the honor to be at the destiny of FIFA ... I will make sure that no technical help will be introduced in refereeing, because we shall rely on persons and human beings,″ he said.
REYNA AN ALL-STAR: Claudio Reyna became the first American to make the MasterCard All-Star team at the World Cup.
The 28-year-old midfielder was selected for the squad by the FIFA Technical Committee, which officially would announce the rest of the 16 players on Friday.
After missing the opening 3-2 upset of Portugal because of a strained right quadriceps, Reyna returned for the 1-1 tie against South Korea, but struggled. He played better in the 3-1 loss to Poland and then had the game of his career in the 2-0 second-round win over Mexico.
Moved from his usual spot in the center of the midfield to the right flank _ where he used to play for Scotland’s Glasgow Rangers _ he sparked the Americans with a brilliant 40-yard run that led to Brian McBride’s go-ahead goal in the eighth minute.
Back in the center, he was outstanding in the 1-0 quarterfinal loss to Germany, a team that pushed him around four years ago.
Forward-midfielder Landon Donovan, who scored two goals as the United States made the quarterfinals, also was a finalist, but was not chosen for the team.
MasterCard will donate $300,000 to UNICEF in the names of the All-Stars.
HITCHING A RIDE: Japan has decided to give German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder a ride on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s official plane so that he can watch Sunday’s World Cup final between Germany and Brazil.
Schroeder at first suggested lightheartedly he would like to go home with Koizumi from Calgary, where the annual Group of Eight summit is being held.
But when the subject came up again during a photo session for leaders at the summit on Wednesday, Koizumi brought up the topic again.
``We checked, and it doesn’t appear to break any laws,″ deputy Cabinet spokesman Shinzo Abe said. ``His wife will come from Germany to join him, and he will take the German government plane back.″
Abe said Schroeder suggested flying with Koizumi because that would allow him to send his traveling staff back to Germany. Schroeder will be the first foreign dignitary to ride on the Japanese government plane, Abe said.
To make room for Schroeder and four German officials who will travel with him, Japanese passengers will sit in a conference room aboard the customized 747.
This year’s two-day G8 summit was scheduled to conclude Thursday evening. Koizumi is due to leave for Tokyo on Friday, and because of the time difference arrive home on Saturday.
BATTLE OF THE MINNOWS: Forget Brazil and Germany. In the Himalayan nation of Bhutan, the big game on Sunday is not the World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan.
Instead, Bhutan will play host to Montserrat, an island nation in the Caribbean, in a friendly between the two lowest-ranked teams in FIFA’s world rankings.
Montserrat could be considered the underdog for the match because it is ranked No. 203, compared to Bhutan’s 202. Also, Bhutan will enjoy home-field advantage, playing in Changlimathang national stadium in the capital city of Thimpu.
The friendly match was organized by Kessels Krammer, a Dutch media company.
Bhutan did not enter Asian qualifications for the 2002 World Cup. In March 2000, Montserrat lost a home-and-home series with the Dominican Republic 6-1 on aggregate in CONCACAF first-round Caribbean Zone qualifying.
SOCCER ACADEMY: Aspiring Asian soccer players will soon join thousands of American and European youngsters who spend several weeks sharpening their skills under the tutelage of the world’s top coaches and clubs.
Soccer-crazed Japanese and Korean kids looking to steep themselves in the glory of the biggest teams in Europe and South America can do so through a program organized by the International Academy, a Cardiff, Wales-based company.
It’s a summer soccer camp, but one with feedback from some of the top names in the game.
``We want youngsters to train in the same environment as their heroes,″ said Tom Shorey, International Academy’s managing director.
Kids can run drills, get pointers and even show off their skills before officials from 22 of the world’s most famous clubs, including England’s Arsenal, Spain’s Real Madrid, Italy’s Juventus, Germany’s Bayern Munich and Argentina’s Boca Juniors.