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Brazil: Rivaldo Didn’t Fake Injury

June 4, 2002

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UKSAN, South Korea (AP) _ Brazil’s coach insists Rivaldo didn’t fake an injury in Monday’s 2-1 win over Turkey, although the star striker told the Brazilian media he ``exaggerated.″

FIFA said it was investigating and would decide Wednesday whether Rivaldo should be punished. The Brazilian could receive a warning, a fine or a suspension.

Rivaldo was preparing to take a corner kick against Turkey in second-half injury time, minutes after he had scored on a penalty kick to give Brazil the go-ahead goal.

Turkey’s Hakan Unsal kicked the ball at Rivaldo. Although it bounced off his leg, the Brazilian collapsed, clutching his face, and South Korean referee Kim Young Joo immediately issued Unsal a yellow card. It was Unsal’s second yellow of the match, earning him a red card _ and expulsion.

Rivaldo bounced up for the corner kick and continued playing.

In an interview with the Brazilian daily Gazeta Esportiva, Rivaldo admitted he hammed it up.

``The ball didn’t hit my face. It hit me in the leg,″ Rivaldo was quoted as saying. ``Obviously I exaggerated so that he would be expelled.″

Still, he denied the theatrical act was cheating.

``He kicked the ball at me, and that’s something that should not be allowed,″ Rivaldo said. ``He really deserved to be ejected.″

Rivaldo and the rest of Brazil’s starting squad were given the day off Tuesday and were not available for comment.

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, however, said his player’s reaction was an instinctive cover-up reflex.

``It was a natural defense gesture,″ Scolari said Tuesday. ``The ball hit his leg and went up, and he covered up to protect his face.″

Scolari said Brazil had not been notified by FIFA and expected Rivaldo would be available for the team’s next game against China on Saturday.

Still, FIFA has said it plans to crack down on cheating at the Cup and would deal severely with players who fake injury or dive to obtain a penalty or free kick.

In Brazil, however, that kind of play-acting isn’t strictly considered cheating. Brazilians call it ``malandragem″ _ walking the edge of legality to obtain an advantage _ and those who practice it are simply smart.

Luizao admits he used a little ``malandragem″ against Turkey on the play that resulted in Brazil’s game-winning penalty kick.

In the waning minutes, Luizao got the ball on a breakaway and was streaking toward the goal with Turkish defender Alpay Ozalan hanging on his jersey. In the penalty area, Luizao collapsed, Kim whistled a penalty and Ozalan was ejected.

``In the Cup, anything is valid, and you have to use a little ’malandragem,‴ he said with a smile. ``I carried the ball until I fell, then I put it on the penalty mark and the referee didn’t know if the foul was inside or outside the penalty area.″

Although much criticized for his refereeing, Kim defended his decisions in an interview with the Korean news agency Yonhap.

``Whether Rivaldo tried to create a false impression by faking an injury is totally irrelevant when we discuss the appropriateness of my decision to send Hakan off,″ Kim was quoted saying.

He also stood by his decision to award a penalty kick, saying the foul continued into the penalty area and was flagged by his assistant on the sideline.

``It was outside the penalty area that the Turkish defender began pulling the shirt, but I did not whistle the play because I had to apply the advantage rule in this case,″ Kim said. ``However, the offense continued into the penalty area, and I awarded a penalty kick to Brazil.″

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