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Fifa sends out mixed messages on corruption

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David Bond | 12:20 UK time, Monday, 7 June 2010

Given England's appalling record in penalty shoot-outs at World Cups, anything that might help swing the balance back in their favour will no doubt be welcomed by Fabio Capello's team.

Fifa's new directive to all 29 World Cup referees and their assistants means that any players who feint to kick the ball at the end of their run-up will now be booked, any resulting goals will be disallowed and the spot-kick will be re-taken.

For the avoidance of doubt, Jose Garcia Aranda, Fifa's head of refereeing, played examples of the sort of penalties that will be outlawed for the first time in South Africa to officials at their plush headquarters on the outskirts of Pretoria.

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And although most of the players featured in the video are Brazilian, Aranda, a Spaniard, denied the amendment to Rule 14 was in response to a phenomenon that is seen mostly in South American football.

For England, who have been eliminated after losing penalty shoot-outs in three of their last four World Cups (1990, 1998, 2006) as well as Euro 2004 and Euro 96, the rule change may help level the playing field. Capello's side could play Brazil in the semi-finals, if they get that far in South Africa.

Howard Webb, England's refereeing representative at this World Cup, told me he thought the law change was a good move.

I also asked him about the threat of match-fixing, following claims by Lord Triesman - made in a recorded private conversation - that the Spanish FA was looking to bribe referees at this World Cup.

Webb said referees always needed to be vigilant but added that, in 20 years of refereeing, he had never witnessed anything suspicious. He said no special directive had been issued to referees here either.

Aranda refused to comment on the remarks of Triesman, who was forced to step down as chairman of the Football Association in the wake of his damaging comments, but did say he was confident none of the referees selected to officiate in South Africa were corrupt. He added he was not worried about the threat of match-fixing over the next month.

However, this World Cup is likely to be the biggest betting event in history with consultancy Global Betting and Gaming estimating that £3.35bn will be wagered during the competition. The amount gambled illegally in Asia could be at least the same again. That must increase the risk.

Fifa's refusal to acknowledge the potential threat - following Triesman's comments, which were summarily dismissed by Fifa's ethics committee 10 days ago - could be seen as complacency, too.

But Fifa does have an early warning system in place and in May set up a confidential telephone hotline for players, coaches and referees to report any suspicious approaches or attempts to bribe them in South Africa.

Some members of Fifa's refereeing committee are no strangers to dealing with corruption allegations. Michal Listkiewicz, the former head of the Polish FA and also a member of Fifa's refereeing commission, was in charge when the country was hit by a series of damaging match-fixing claims in 2007. More than 150 Polish officials, referees and players were accused of corruption and a number of court cases are still ongoing.

The scandal triggered a major row with Fifa, with the governing body angry at the Polish government's appointment of an administrator to run the FA following the affair. The FA was even suspended by Fifa as it opposes any government interference in the running of national associations.

In a separate case, Liestkiewicz was questioned by prosecutors in November 2009 on suspicion he obstructed court-ordered proceedings toward an indebted club.

Jerzy Kasiura, of the Prosecutor's Office in Wroclaw, said Listkiewicz was suspected of having ordered a money transfer of some seven million zlotys (£1.8m) to be made in 2000 from the Polish FA to the account of a sports firm. A court had earmarked that money for the cash-strapped Widzew Lodz club instead.

Listkiewicz denied the charges and was released on 60,000 zlotys (£15,265) bail pending further proceedings.

Ricardo Teixeira, president of the Brazilian Football Federation, has also been accused of failing to take strong action to deal with a series of damaging referee corruption cases in Brazil over the last two decades. Teixeira is deputy chairman of Fifa's refereeing committee.

There is absolutely no suggestion Listkiewicz was involved in any way in the corruption scandal which hit Polish football and he has not been convicted of anything in connection with the transfer of money to the sports firm. Nor has Teixeira ever been directly implicated in the refereeing scandals in Brazil.

The accusation, however, is that both men failed to deal with corruption in their own countries.

But if Fifa are determined to send a strong message about match-fixing, the presence of Texeira and Liskiewicz on the referees committee might appear to undermine that message.

Interesting, too, that Brazilian referee Carlos Simon will take charge of England's opening World Cup match against the United States in Rustenburg on Saturday, 12 June. He is certainly a controversial figure in his homeland - with one club, Flamengo, recently complaining to Fifa following his handling of a league match.

Still, Simon is still regarded as the top official in Brazil and this will be his third successive World Cup. He has also taken charge of an England game before, refereeing their opening match in 2002 against Sweden.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    "Fifa's new directive to all 29 World Cup referees and their assistants means that any players who stop once they have started their run-up will now be booked, any resulting goals will be disallowed and the spot-kick will be re-taken."

    Apart from it doesn't. It says that players will not be allowed to stop at the end of their run-up. They will be still be allowed to stop during the run-up.

  • Comment number 3.

    Penalties are a farce. Half the time there are players in front of the penalty taker before the ball's been kicked and thet rest of the time the goalkeeper is at the edge of his six yard box. It's time Fifa dealt with the more obvious infringements before focusing on the "John Aldriges" of this world.

  • Comment number 4.

    Personally I think that a player can take a penalty any way he jolly well likes as long as it’s a single kick at goal. The feinting and stutter is actually a fairly tricky skill which is why so few do it. It’s an unnatural way of approaching the ball especially in a pressurised situation.

    Because it is a skill and a single kick, it should be allowed. It’s not the takers fault that the goalkeeper commits himself by diving early.

    Stuttering is fair game though having said that, John Aldridge used to really annoy me the way he’d take a kick and he got his just desserts by being the first person to miss a pen in an FA Cup Final.

    Goalkeepers do seek to gain an advantage by moving and I’d ask you, when did you see that rule effectively applied? It’s one kick, towards one goal – how the ball gets there is of no consequence.

    The act of kicking a ball takes a fraction of a second. There are no flicks, back flips or cartwheels involved. It's a single contact between foot and football towards a netted-rectangle 12 yards away. Simples.

    When I was a goalkeeper I just ignored the run up and concentrated on the ball and watched which direction it went. At least then I had a chance of stopping it as I knew was going to dive the right way. I wasn’t relying on guesswork. OK, I didn’t save every one but my record wasn’t that bad.

    Oh, and while we’re at it, look at Jerzy Dudek’s outrageous behaviour in the Champions League final in 2005. It’s appalling gamesmanship...and I’m speaking as a Liverpool fan!

  • Comment number 5.

    What happens if a player picks a booking for stopping in their run-up during a penalty shoot-out and it's their 2nd booking? As I understand it, a coach has to specify the 5 penalty takers - are they allowed to replace a player who has been sent off with one of their 11 who hasn't been nominated? Or, is it analagous with not being able to substitute someone who has been sent off?

  • Comment number 6.

    Exactly my wonder too,@No.5, what happens if its the second bookable offence. Whether i stop or sit down midway should be nobody's business as long as i hit the ball once. Its not like i will pass to myself and hit the ball when its at 3yards from goal.

  • Comment number 7.

    The requirement to book players who stop their run before a penanlty is just plain silly. Neither FIFA not UEFA can get their act togther to endorse video technologies for incidents which have bigger impacts on the outcomes of games but they can come togther to issue petty rules like this!?! Its on a par with bookings for players celebrating a goal and utterly unecessary. If they had said that this type of penalty kick was no longer acceptable well fine but to then book players is taking rule enforcement too far. What about goalies who move off their line, why not book them as well?

    I agree with #4 that penalties should be allowed to be taken without interference to the style of the kicker. Its all part of the game and should be left alone.

  • Comment number 8.

    Is there anywhere we can see the examples of penalties that would be disallowed?

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Come on, we all know that there is a good chance of corruption and match fixing at the World Cup.

    How Many times has Sepp Blater been impliaccted or "involved" in corruption scandals?

    This is a man who wouldn't let the swiss police auditors into FIFA headquarters.

    Football, policed by the criminals? In my opinion yes.

  • Comment number 11.

    I find it hard to believe that in 20 years of refereeing Webb has never seen anything that qualifies as suspicious.

    Given the money involved it seems unlikely, to say the least, that there wouldn't even be attempts to influence the game and that he wouldn't be aware of this.

  • Comment number 12.

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  • Comment number 13.


    I refer to this part of your blog

    "Fifa's new directive to all 29 World Cup referees and their assistants means that any players who stop once they have started their run-up will now be booked, any resulting goals will be disallowed and the spot-kick will be re-taken. "

    According to the article that you have linked to, I quote Fifa's Jerome Valcke. "Feinting in the run-up to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted. However, feinting to kick the ball once the player has completed his run-up is now considered an infringement"

    I think you may have got things a little confused. The Paradinha, as it is known in Brazil, has been outlawed but there is nothing to stop someone taking a penalty like John Aldridge used to do all those years ago.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 14.

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  • Comment number 15.

    @4- You beat me to it! As a 'keeper myself, I am in complete agreement- fundamentally, a penalty is a direct free kick, so are they going to outlaw the same actions for all free kicks? I think not...

  • Comment number 16.

    I remember back in the day - the GK had to stay on his line, I thnk he could move a bit side to side but that was it and the penalty taker could only run up to the ball and kick it. Any stopping in the run-up was an infringement. Then suddenly everyone is doing it. I think it is good to stop this, tho as someone points out above maybe PK takers should be allowed to take the kick how they see fit.

  • Comment number 17.

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  • Comment number 18.

    Who are the bunch in fifa that come out with such rules? Do they involve current football players in all the recognised leagues in current fifa memeber countries? Was this rule tested during the qulifying stages to give players time to understand and adjust to the new rules? How can year after year sepp blater and co (i havent criticised the former in the past), bring in rules just as the competition is about to start without giving the players who are the subjects to the rule adequate time and practice? lets take 1 scenario, what happens when a player is carrying a yellow card and the game ends in penalties, and is then to take the last kick to even the scores, is then judged wrongly by the referee and given a second yellow card which should then be sending off, does that national team then leave the WC (which is held every 4 years) based on this? I dont believe sepp blatter and co have seen a proper riot in their entire lives, as this willl just be asking for one.
    Any rule that is not put in place at the time of the qualifying stages, should not be used during the finals, and only in exception with a ballot by all the current players of teams that have qualified and not their country FA or regional representatives. Football is for the players and fans, not bureaucrats, politicians, or the press.

  • Comment number 19.

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  • Comment number 20.

    As a follow up to my earlier comment, does a player deserve to loose the opportunity to play in a WC final if thr game beign played is a semi-final game? What kind of pressure are these fifa guys putting these players on, do they know the psychological implication? Players in the past have become alcoholics and some unfortunately have committed suicide or have been murdered due to mistakes made at th WC. Fifa knows that some countries are better at providing counciling services while others are not, and also even countries which are thought to be developed still have shortcomings in taking care of players mental stress.
    These playes have the presuure of their home countries on them during the WC, countries with larger poupulations cannot be compared evenly with those of lesser population, and some of these players see much more pressure than many political leaders will ever come accross. For sepp blatter & co not to see this as an issue before making such rules without adequate consultation and trials it beggers belief as to where they think we are in the world today. Not taking a swipe at any particular country, Sepp Blaateer comes from and leaves in a country which does not now what kind of pressures are experinced around the world, a country which has fought no wars, would not know what real negotiatios are about, the rest of the world should please explain to this man that life is not and would never be straight but made up of bends and curves

  • Comment number 21.

    As far as I was aware they already outlawd the "fake kick" for a penalty, like you see in those videos. And from what I read of this 'rule change', it still won't prevent a stutter-step run up like Ronaldo used to do in the Barclays. So really it's not that big a deal, as far as I can tell.

    As for match fixing I don't think it would happen in the World Cup. But now every bad decision [and there is sure to be at least one terrible game-changer] will be scrutinised and there will be calls of cheating from some areas. It's sadly inevitable.

  • Comment number 22.

    FIFA have failed to recognise one thing, a penalty should be an advantage to the kicking player because his team were the ones who were fouled in the first place.

    If a player stutters then so what? Tough for the defending team for commiting a foul in the first place.

    In a shootout i believe that it should be kept as it is, when has this ever affected the outcome of a penalty shootout?

  • Comment number 23.

    Could someone explain to me why a player who has committed an infringement under this rule amendment gets the chance to rectify the situation with a second penalty.

    Surely it would make more sense to penalise the attacking team by awarding a free kick to the defending side with any goal or other advantageous outcome (corner after 'keeper save for example) for the attacking side disregarded.

  • Comment number 24.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought the rule has always stated that a player must take a penalty as one continuous forward movement. So stopping before the kick has always been against the rules. If there is a shimmy or a dummy in the run up that is fine providing forward movement is maintained. Far worse things happen on the pitch than this so I don't see why it should be a bookable offense. Just retake the kick!

  • Comment number 25.

    David, I thought this blog was supposed to be outlining the change in rules to penalty-taking. The title for the link to the page is 'Paying the Penalty' after all.

    However, most of this blog discusses corruption in football.

  • Comment number 26.

    Was it Socrates, the Brazilian, who used to stand over the ball and hit it without a run-up? The rule seems ambiguous in this case.

  • Comment number 27.

    "any player who feigns a kick at the end of his run-up will be booked and the spot-kick re-taken"

    If the player commits an offence in the taking of the kick, why the devil should he be allowed a second chance?

    Foul throw-in; ball goes to the opposition. Foul penalty should be treated likewise. (End of foul penalties!!!). SIMPLE!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Just to confirm what happens if a player is sent off during kicks from the penalty mark

    "If a player is injured or sent off during the taking of kicks from the penalty mark and the team has one player fewer, the referee should not reduce the number of players taking kicks for the other team. An equal number of players from each team is required only at the start of the taking of kicks from the penalty mark."

  • Comment number 29.

    Just ban runups. No one would ever score.

  • Comment number 30.

    I thought the most astonishing thing i've learnt here is that Howard Webb has 20 years of refereeing experience!!

    How on earth did he get a Champions League final & become our representative at the World Cup?!

    He's had 2 appalling seasons, made some ridiculous decisions and has such arrogant demeanor about him. I don't know what it is he's got on the heads of the FA, but he can't have been given this status on the strength of his refereeing performances!

    It really doesn't matter what they've done to the rule changes on penalty shootouts.......i'm sure he'll find some way of messing them up.

    .............Not a Howard Webb fan incase you hadn't guessed! lol

  • Comment number 31.

    The rule is quite clear. You're not allowed to feint kicking the ball, everything else is allowed.

    So as long as you don't swing your foot at the ball with everyone thinking your intention was to kick the ball then you'll be fine. I agree by-and-large with the rule as it makes sense.

  • Comment number 32.

    at least we won't have to witness Yann Kermorgant taking any penalties...

  • Comment number 33.

    Lord help the first ref to rule out a penalty because of this rule - the pressure around these penalties is plenty enough without more marginal, subjective decision making opportunities. The goalkeeper should be free to do what he wants - on the line - the taker should be free to do what he wants - as long as he strikes the ball once.

  • Comment number 34.

    Carlos Simon - he's so vain I bet he thinks this song is about him.

  • Comment number 35.

    it's never been legal to 'stutter' or feint once you start your run up. I refereed a tournament yesterday and reminded penalty takers of this. As a former goalkeeper it always particularly annoyed me as everybody's so very aware of what 'keepers are not allowed to do.

  • Comment number 36.

    To be fair, the type of penalty that has been banned is one that is hardly ever seen in Europe, which is why all the examples are from Brazil. You are still allowed to stop in the run up, I can't see this causing a problem for anyone.

    As for Mr Simon, he is one of the most experienced referees in South America, maybe he upset someone with some of his decisions last year but he's not the first one there.

  • Comment number 37.

    Everyone who has commented so far is wrong (including David Bond - and I would expect better from someone who is the BBC's Sports Editor)- This is a change in the LAW and not a change in the RULE.

    Personally as a referee this is a great idea. Too often we have player who feint as they run up in order to gain an unfair advantage on the goalkeeper and it is something which goalkeepers always complain about.

    I believe this is very similar to the law introduced a few years back saying that goalkeepers had to stay on their line - both laws mean that as the kick is taken the goalkeeper will be on his line and the player will have 1 clean shot on goal. It means neither player of goalkeeper can gain an unfair advantage prior to the kick being taken which is when the ball officially comes into play after a kick from the penalty mark.
    This is a superb idea by FIFA.

  • Comment number 38.

    People are taking the comments in this mornings papers about Carlos Simon a bit too serious. The crux of the matter is that he didn't award some questionable decisions to the likes of Santos/Corinthians, who exert more power on the Brazilian FA than the combined weight of Chelsea/Liverpool/Arsenal/Manchester United.

    Typical media, in looking for the slightest issue in which to divert the real criticism from their Fleet Street doorsteps when the team fail to meet their silly expectations.

  • Comment number 39.

    The fact that Webb claims he's never seen anything suspicious, when we all know there have been matches fixed in the past, is frankly ludicrous and suspicious in itelf.

    We are not just talking about bribing the opposition here, we are talking about refs being bribed or favouring one of the teams. For people to dismisss that this happens is naive. It has happened in previous World Cups and will happen again. They have the motives, they're not interested in the honesty or integrity of the game, they just want the finacial benefits and the outside 'image' of the World Cup to be positive. That means that inn each World Cup there will be certain countires who be profitable to FIFA and the World Cup if they do well.

    One would be the hosts: Don't be surprised if South Africa have some decisions go their way in this World Cup. Don't even be surprised if they make it through the group even though they are the worst team in group A. It happened with Argentina in 1978 when they had to beat Peru 4-0 to make the final, it happened with South Korea in 2002 when they beat Portugal, Italy and Spain on the back of some extremely dodgy decisions, including at least 3 golden goals wrongly disallowed and the goalkeeper on the edge of his 6 yard box for penalties. The hosts will get the benefit of the decisions every time, yes, it may even have happened in 66! Why? Because the enthusiasm of the host country and the tickets sold to them will create a memorable and profitable image in the tournament - see 2002 when Korean fans filled the stadiums at a World Cup where travelling support was quite low. In addition an underdog having a great world cup adds a storybook element to it.

    Second is the perennial successful teams, mainly Brazil, who have that 'samba football' image, probably the reason a lot of people tune into the World Cup. People want to see the best players and the most entertaining teams, and if Brazil are in the tournament, I wager ratings and attendances will be higher. Likewise, if the latter stages have the greatest players in, then it makes the World Cup look better.

    And thirdly, England. Yeh I know you'll call me biased and petty, but have you actually seen our exists from major tournaments recently? Players sent off for next to nothing, being forced to retake perfectly legitimate penalties, disallowed golden goals, handballs, need I go on? But you actually have to watch these matches all the way through to understand what I mean. But why would they not like England? Well, we refused to take part in the first few World Cup's, seeing it as below us. I still reckon FIFA will hold a grudge - as surely the participation of the powerful country who invented football would have speeded up its popularity. Similarly, don't expect the USA to be looked at favourably, who have a similar attitude now. Maybe its because we don't play very attractive football.

    But I think it's mainly this outdated perception that English fans the worst in the world as we are all hooligans. We may have been pretty bad onece, but we are no where near the worst nowadays. I don't want to go into the particular nations but I think we all have a few in mind. Yet the idea in other countries is still the same. You ask froeigners 'do you see us as hooligans?' and they say 'yes'. You ask them 'what do you think of English fans?' they reply something like 'a bit violent'. These are answers I have personally recieved btw. The fact is most of the World see us negatively and a lot of the time not even in a football sense. The World doesn't like to see us do well at World Cups and FIFA are aware of this.

    FIFA don't even have to bribe refs though do they? They can say 'make sure Brazil have every chance of going through/we want Messi playing in the final if you know what I mean ;) and you can ref the final'. And sometimes, it will be England game, and they'll choose, Argentine referee! Easy!

  • Comment number 40.

    And to those who think I'm being dramatic when I say FIFA don't want certain teams to do well, take last years Champions league - didn't Platini say he didn't want 2 English teams in the final again (or something along those lines) just days before Chelsea had 4 stone wall penalties denied against Barcelona?!

    They have the motives, they have the power, and for some reason, they have the trust of many football fans.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    FIFA what does it stand for? Farcial Interfering Football Association?

    This rule is a joke, pure and simple. The game has bigger problems today than penalty run ups. Any yellow carding someone for it is stupid. If they need the rule how about if you do it then your penalty is ruled as a miss? That should be punishment enough.

    Just like their meddling in goal celebrations, why do you get yellowed for taking your shirt off? I can understand if you have an offensive message underneath but again this rule was brought in when there is bigger things to be worrying about.

    The rules were fine as the are the main thing FIFA should be worring about is

    -Match fixing/corruption - examples like the recent ones in Poland and Italy should be a stark warning, instead they seem to carry on with their heads in the sand, and in the case of the Italian ones despite being found guilty there was apparently nothing in FIFA/UEFA rules to stop teams participating in continental/global competitions. This has not yet been fixed.

    -Refering standards - It's not the rules that are the problem it's inconsistant refs. We need to accept that there are some things Ref's can't see but when somthing clear cut is seen and not given there is somthing wrong. EG if a player goes over in the box and he's not tripped over his feet it's either a Penalty or a Yellow for diving. Yet the same ref will see the same situation 3 times in a season and will do one in one, one in another and nothing in the 3rd!

    -Comerceialisation - Money is ruining the game and they are leading the way. They are raking the cash in off world cups, there are too many corperate tickets to games, games with sky high prices (like the current world cup) then you have a new ball every tournement that is sold for £60 a pop. IT'S ONLY A FOOTBALL! In 2006 they said the ball was fantastic, so why not use it again? Why a new ball every tournement? It's all about money and the sport is being ruined by it from the Top down. The big spending clubs in the world are only following FIFAs example, they should get their own house in order first.

    I've never met anyone who respects Blatter for the job he's done. Everyone thinks he's a joke, and that says everything about FIFA!

  • Comment number 43.

    World cup matches should never have been decided on penalties anyway.Too much is at stake.
    The golden goal format gives a more realistic result and is better for the fans to watch.
    Many teams are now hanging on for a draw for the last half hour or so, because these penalty shoot outs gives them their best chance of winning against stronger opposition.
    Of course TV companies schedules would have to go out of the window if this was ever adopted,so they tell FIFA they don,t want it, and we all know that he who pays the piper.....

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    On the subject of penalties, I think comment #4 describes my opinion perfectly.

    On the subject of corruption within football (or the Olympics), David, I would love to add some comments or ask some questions.
    But when I previously tried to do so, I was repeatedley blocked by BBC moderators, even though I was trying to quote BBC articles by BBC journalists.

  • Comment number 46.

    Looking at the video of exactly what penalties have been banned, I can understand why FIFA's introduced the rule. That type of run-up and penalty give the penalty taker an unfair advantage, as someone pointed out earlier, it takes a fraction of a second to kick the ball. It also takes a fraction of a second for the keeper to react and dive for the ball. Just imagine if it was Joe Hart that was the unlucky victim to a deciding penalty in a shoot out and the taker took it like that, the outcry would be outrageous! I think the booking is taking it too far though, I agree with the other people who think the defending team should get a free kick during normal play, and I reckon it should go down as a missed penalty if in a shoot-out. that would stop any player (or should!) risking his team's glory for something silly as that

  • Comment number 47.

    I am amazed at how negative people are to this adaption by FIFA.
    Why yellow card offenders? because they won't try it on as the result of a yellow card could be catastrophic! no punishment means they will try it on!

    #39 - "The fact that Webb claims he's never seen anything suspicious, when we all know there have been matches fixed in the past, is frankly ludicrous and suspicious in itelf"

    what a load of rubbish! How can you accuse him of being ludicrous when you have no proof that HE has seen anything suspicious?
    you do seem to have a rather large chip on your shoulder regarding FIFA too - why? you can make up a million conspiracy theories if you want to, but the alternative is to sit back and enjoy the quality of the football rather than assuming there's something dodgy behind it!!

  • Comment number 48.


    What you mean they are not going to make it a yellow card offence?

    And yeah I can see why as a ref you would like this idea!

    #39 #40

    Seriously I know you are disappointed about England exits from tournaments but really there is no conspiracy against you. There is not one shred of credible evidence to support the existence of any designed conspiracy against you by 'the world' and applied by 'FIFA' or 'UEFA'

    As a Scot I've always been welcome anywhere I've been. Must be different for you guys eh!?!! Couldn't comment on why you think people across the world don't like the English!!!!

    And in Europe your teams because your teams are in the Big 5 countries UEFA gives you priveliged access to the CL.

  • Comment number 49.

    I say keep actual penalties as they have always been, but change the shootout penalties to a more 50-50 format. Spot the ball at the top of the D, and at the whistle, both the player with the ball and the keeper can move wherever within the confines of the box. The player with the ball has 10 seconds from the whistle to take a shot at goal, which could involve dribbling around the keeper or just plain shooting immediately, or the effort is counted as a miss. Yes, this is similar to the shootout in ice hockey, but I think it would add real drama and eliminate any complaining about keepers moving off the line or takers having bad run-ups. The thing is, a true penalty should give the advantage to the taker. In a shootout, there should be an even chance for the penalty to be scored or saved.

  • Comment number 50.

    'Seriously I know you are disappointed about England exits from tournaments but really there is no conspiracy against you. There is not one shred of credible evidence to support the existence of any designed conspiracy against you by 'the world' and applied by 'FIFA' or 'UEFA''

    I'm afraid you're deluded if you think the World Cup is not fixed. I'm sorry to ruin your beautiful and childish vision of the tournament, but only your ability to avoid looking things in the face keeps you in that world. No, I can't prove the World Cup is fixed, but they couldn't prove OJ was guilty could they? But do you believe he was innocent?

    It's not always about what you can prove, unless you're Denzel Washington in training day. I could go on for even longer with examples that you can't deny are VERY dodgy. But I'd never convince you, because you don't want to be convinced. Point is I can't prove anything but neither can you - can you? Can you prove its not fixed? I have watched plenty of World Cups and I have evidence to say not all the games are refereed honestly. This isn't stone cold proof, after all I've never seen relevant bribes or conversations first hand. But neither have you I bet. And I'd love to know how you can be so sure that no games are fixed.

    'you do seem to have a rather large chip on your shoulder regarding FIFA too - why? you can make up a million conspiracy theories if you want to, but the alternative is to sit back and enjoy the quality of the football rather than assuming there's something dodgy behind it!!'

    Of course I try to enjoy the football, but when I know the team playing the better football has lost because of a dishonest referee it kills it a bit. I'm sure you can ask a lot of other people why they hate FIFA, mainly it's because they're a dishonest bunch who only care about money and aren't bothered about the great sport that football is. They are in charge of the game on the global stage and have let things such as diving creep into the sport with little resistance for example. Oh, and they fix the World Cup.

    I've got a question for you 2 - why do you think they don't want goal line technology? Something to think about..

  • Comment number 51.

    There may not be any "match-fixing" as such - as has been said before this is probably too high profile an event (although there will no doubt be one or two "dead matches" with neither side able to qualify.

    More to the point - there is a lot of spot-betting in asia on all sorts of things - time of first throw-in, number of corners, time of first booking, the list is endless. Some of those are not that difficult to fix with only one or two players being "bought" and how would you spot it unless it was as blatant as the kick-off being belted straight into touch! I am sure some of the lesser paid players in the so-called lesser teams will have been approached to influence the play in this way and as it is highly unlikely to influence the result they would not consider it match fixing.

  • Comment number 52.

    #50 - goal-line technology is an interesting one.
    I believe Blatter has said, (and if he didn't this is my opinion) that the reason Football is so globally popular is that the kid in the street can play exactly the same game as the professionals...just a ball and space. I fear that goal-line technology would start a trend for introducing technology for all manner of decisions

  • Comment number 53.

    This barely ever happens, although I do remember Ronaldo doing it in 06 against Robinson.
    What is more important during penalties is that the two linesmen, who stand on the edge of the goal, put their flags up when keepers come off their lines before the kick is taken.
    Ricardo, Reina are two high profile examples of keepers who encroach regularly on spot kicks.
    It puts takers at a big disadvantage and should be stamped out.

  • Comment number 54.

    I read Number 4's post ... and quite frankly couldn't be bothered to read any more posts. He's summed up this whole issue perfectly - well said. I echo all of your thoughts.

  • Comment number 55.

    A very strange summary of disparate events.

  • Comment number 56.

    This "New" rule has always been in the rule book!

    Back in the '60s, when I started to got to matches, there used to be a magazine called the "Football League Review" stapled in the middle of the magazine. In this, there used to be a "You are the Ref" type column and I particularly remember the question where a penalty taker feigns to take the kick, waits for the goalie to move and taps the ball in the net. The answer was to disallow the goal, book the penalty taker for ungentlemanly conduct and order a retake of the kick.

    What is the issue here?

  • Comment number 57.

    3. At 1:28pm on 07 Jun 2010, RememberScarborough wrote:
    Penalties are a farce. Half the time there are players in front of the penalty taker before the ball's been kicked and thet rest of the time the goalkeeper is at the edge of his six yard box.

    Don't know what you've been watching, but this is completely incorrect.

    Just because you've seen this once or twice in your local park doesn't mean it happens at a higher level.

  • Comment number 58.

    Since a couple of people have brought up the 2nd booking problem, I'd like to suggest the introduction of the sin bin.
    A 5 minute penalty would stop small offences like shirts being taken off after a goal on the spot. It would also deal with the petty offences like a spur of the moment swearing at a referee.
    With maybe a 5 minute first offence and maybe even 15 minutes for a second minor offence, coaches would put a stop to petulant behaviour within minutes... don't you think?
    Now, while I have your attention... thank you... how about all booked players being removed from the pitch for extra time?
    That would mean gaps left in defences, cleaner playing teams would gain an advantage and it would hopefully mean less games going to penalties which may produce a result but have bugger all to do with a TEAM game.
    OK, over and out... it's morning coffee here in the sub-tropics!

  • Comment number 59.

    I have to say that FIFA are coming across as being a bit hypocritical here in terms of attitude. On one hand they have repeatedly decided against the use of video evidence for making decisions, running with the excuse that this might take away some of the magic, and allure that comes from all of those controversial decisions, and that football might lose some of its philosophical "romance".

    But the flip side of the coin is that we have a new rule here which is going to penalise one of these little aspects of the game.

    The question really has to be "where is the larger crime?". Is it when a player who is taking a penalty that has been awarded as the result of a foul, uses a gamesmanship style of penalty taking to increase effectiveness (with no real evidence to suggest that it is any more efficient); or is it when an incident like Henry's handball against Rep.of Ireland puts a team of players out of the biggest tournament of their lives, and then FIFA publicly disregard all the commotion as "oh, that's just football".

  • Comment number 60.

    Can we just establish one important point. There are NO rules in football there are only LAWS. I have even heard Alan Green on Five Live go on about the 'rules'. To the guy who wrote about match-fixing and suggested that the Argentina-Peru 1978 match was fixed, I can assure you that it was not. I was there and Peru actually hit the post twice before Argentina scored. Now if the game was fixed I can hardly see Peruvian players getting that close to scoring! The fact was that Argentina threw 9 men forward and kept just one defender back as they went 'hell for leather' for the goals. Accordingly the defence was wide-open hence the two close shaves. They over-whelmed Peru with wave after wave of attack and eventually the goals came. With the accusations of other matches being fixed, I cannot comment because of lack of knowledge about the circumstancs of these games.

  • Comment number 61.

    re: my own post #17 - please just delete it if it stepped over the line in any way ;)

    My point was simply that 'gamesmanship' in football - such as putting either shooter or keeper off during spot-kicks can be seen as 'unsporting behaviour' at the lower end of the corruption scale in soccer terms...even if it's clever and entertaining.

    Also where big moneys' involved there's usually some dastardly deeds going on by someone or other..that's just the way the world works unfortunately.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    Look, I've said it before (and had suggestion published, so my idea, ok?). The penalty shootout has to be abolished once and for all. Right, have extra time with 'golden' goal format. Take one player off every 5 mins at suitable break (foul, throw-in, corner or goal kick). This would generate tremendous excitement. Imagine, after 20mins it would be a 7-a-side game and skill would probably bring about a result where the best team won. Fans would hope there would be extra-time as this would be more fun than what has gone on before. Ultimately, far better than boring old penalty shoot-out. Alternatively, so flow of game not too disrupted, would be to take off two players every 10mins and start extra-time with 10 men each. Reactionary FIFA would ditch this idea along with video replays of divers, handballs, ball crossing line, penalty decisions etc. Still, live in hope I say. You wait, this WC like every one before will be littered with players feigning injury and refs buying it. Therefore, WC destroyed by same old cheating non-Brits.

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.

    There was a shocking case of a penalty feint in the African Cup match between Algeria and Egypt. The penalty taker ran up, came to a dead stop, then scored easily once the goalkeeper had already moved. Now the feint was clearly outside the spirit (and perhaps the law) of the game, but then the keeper obviously moved before the ball was kicked, so he was in the wrong too. It's a complicated question....

  • Comment number 66.

    #65 "but then the keeper obviously moved before the ball was kicked, so he was in the wrong too. It's a complicated question.... "

    He's only in the wrong if he moved forwards of his line.

    I still don't understand why - under this new interpretation - the taker would get a second chance at the penalty (albeit with a caution to his name).

    Surely it would be more effective as a deterrent(if that is what FIFA want) if the penalty was scrubbed and a free kick awarded to the defending team.

  • Comment number 67.


    My first point is that you shouldn’t make assumptions about what other people’s views actually are. It’s just silly and I can counter it too easily. I made no claim that we live in a rosy world called football but even if I did Denzil Washington is simply the wrong choice of analogy for you to use because there are investigative reporters around like Andrew Jennings who have long pointed the finger at levels of corruption in FIFA and individuals like Jack Warner. And if you wanted an exposition on the role of organised crime in sport you could also look at Misha Glenny’s ‘McMafia’ where the author outlines the influence of the ‘mob’ in EEurpean football clubs in places like Bulgaria. I’m not denying there is no evidence of ‘organised and designed’ corruption in football far from it, because the evidence would suggest otherwise. But neither do I think that because matches can be influenced by external factors, that every tournament is just a re-run of the 1919 World Series and that as part of this they also deliberately target England (why? Well presumably because you are just too good and would win it every time!).

    You can see that accepting this line of argument (i.e. that football matches can be open to external influence) is just not the same as then making a claim that England are consistently and deliberately removed from tournaments because the matches are rigged by FIFA/ UEFA because nobody likes you. And it’s not enough either to say that you are somehow right or valid in your view because nobody can prove that such a conspiracy doesn’t exist. This is nonsense and really just ignores YOUR responsibility to make your case better than you do. If you can make a case then I’m happy to accept it on the basis of what you present but until you do I won’t and why should I because there are better explanations for what you describe. I’m quite prepared to accept that there are things that we don’t actually know exist or not (e.g. ‘heaven’) but the key issue is what the evidence is to support a view and whether that is enough to swing the balance of my opinion about it. Having ‘faith’ in a view is just not enough I’m afraid.

    A better and simpler explanation (in the absence of any evidence which you do not seem to have) for the events you describe is that England players were just not good enough (like all the other teams who exit!) to win these tournaments. And most people acknowledge that refs make errors of judgements in decisions and sometimes have a bias (and usually for bigger teams of which England are one these ironically!!) but again these individual errors are not the same as asserting a deliberate ‘conspiracy specifically against England in tournament after tournament. Honestly your argument at this point is mainly driven by being let down in your expectations and ‘belief’ that England should have won these tournaments if only life was fair. I’m a Scotland fan for god’s sake and believe me I know how disappointing these exits and poor refereeing decisions can be!

    The journalists above actually present a solid rationale (i.e. why something is happening) and evidence for the arguments they make (i.e. they can support their views with some facts). The simple truth is that you do not and your version of events can be better and more credibly explained at this point without any recourse to the notion that there is any designed and concerted conspiracy against England.

  • Comment number 68.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't this the rule anyway, just without the yellow card part? I'm sure for several years at least the rule has been that once a player has starts their run up they're not allowed to stop completely until they have kicked the ball.

    Was this ever an official rule or just one of those pieces of advice to referees that was never fully adopted (such as the daylight rule on offside decisions)?

  • Comment number 69.

    Now that FIFA have committed themselves to implement this rule, they had better come up with some plan to deal with the problem outlined by many on this blog, namely, what happens if someone carrying a yellow gets one during the shoot-out?

    If that player was taking the last penalty to even, or even win the tie, does the team get to pick another player, will he be allowed to take the kick, then get sent off or will he be sent off straight away and the team lose?

    If this does not get sorted, FIFA will have a big problem.

  • Comment number 70.

    FIFA, Corruption, Blatter, all three go very well together. FIFA and IOC are probably the two most corrupt sporting bodies on the planet. Sepp Blatter is a disgrace and most of the 'heads' of the various federations within FIFA are no better than tin pot dictators whose venality is legendry. The way FIFA 'fixed' the European section playoff's in favour if the 'bigger' nations particularly France and Russia was shameful and downright scandalous. It is obvious that FIFA and Blatter are obsessed with money and feathering their own nests, the refusal to allow the Swiss to see the books shows that there is something they are hiding and every football fan on earth knows just how corrupt FIFA is but are powerless to do anything about it because they have no say in how these parasites are elected. This latest penalty dic-tat is another example of FIFA prioritising the wrong thing, we need goal-line technology and we need TV playback to prevent cheating like diving and Tierry Henry like handball cheating. As usual though FIFA and Blatter will continue to ignore this in favour of their own dumb ideas and will continue to enrich themselves at the expense of the game.

  • Comment number 71.

    to #1, Yep this is another non story. To everyone else, you wanna change the rules, try the fifa website, this is an economist blogging about football. You won't get much joy here.

  • Comment number 72.

    This seems a pointless amendment not to say bad rule. Why can't they feint? You can do it in open play for instance if one on one with the keeper: in this case you have been awarded a penalty because the opposition have committed an offence or cheated but you can't? The booking rule is equally ridculous there is bound to be one where a player is on second card. So he goes and someone else not your best penalty taker has to retake the kick? There will inevitably be an instance where the player giving away the kick perhaps wrongly won't have been sent off and the side who get the spot kick end up missing it with the second choice spot kicker and playing 10 v 11 as result. Nonsense.
    I agree with the post that says stop the players charging into the box alongside the spot kicker first, book them instead.

  • Comment number 73.

    Re: comment 21 - "As for match fixing I don't think it would happen in the World Cup."


    Head to youtube and check out some of the highlights from S. Korea v Italy and S. Korea v. Spain in the 2002 WC and let us know if you still feel that way.

  • Comment number 74.

    I welcome Fifa's ruling on this style of kick and found this piece of BBC journalism well presented. The little bit of video makes it all very clear but I would have liked the reporter to have found out all the 'what ifs' from Fifa regarding cards, sending off and designated penalty takers.
    Whilst I have never met Sepp Blatter I imagine him to be a shadowy figure not unlike Ernst Blofeld spending most of his time in a secret complex at the bottom of Lake Geneva. I believe that a visiting reporter once said "World Cup" rather than "Fifa World Cup" and was fed to piranha fish. That may just be a story though.
    How lucky we are in Formula 1 to have Bernie Ecclestone in charge. Blatter has it within his gift to pretty much eliminate dodgy refereeing with a little bit of technology and hardly more than a long memo but has chosen repeatedly not to do so. Why?

  • Comment number 75.

    Re: comment 21 - "As for match fixing I don't think it would happen in the World Cup."

    Just a couple of results in finals and qualifying
    1978 Argentina 6-0 Peru, Rumours of large payments to peruvian players
    1982 West Germany 1-0 Austria the "Shame of Gijon" a contrived result to put out Algeria
    2002 South Korea (Joint Hosts remember) Progressed to Semi Finals at expense of Italy, Spain and Portugal who between them had 5 perfectly good goals disallowed, had 3 players sent off and were gifted a very soft penalty against Italy to progress past the 2nd round..............
    2004 (Okay it's the Euros but....) Sweden 2-2 Denmark to put out Italy

  • Comment number 76.

    Oh I forget to mention Blatter and Platinis "positive action" with regards to Henris "Hand of Frog"...........

  • Comment number 77.

    In post #52, elvis said (paraphrasing Blatter) -'Football is so globally popular is that the kid in the street can play exactly the same game as the professionals...just a ball and space'.

    I agree with the sentiment, but it's only partially true. Most street kids don't have goal(post)s or nets, referees or linesmen and don't play the offside rule. Maybe the goalposts are marked out on walls and just hitting the wall counts. I think the 'same game for everyone' is a bit misleading.

    The real problem for FIFA is that, at big matches with TV cameras all over the ground, multiple angles of every part of the field, it sometimes can take only a few seconds for the broadcaster to identify, say, whether the ball has crossed the line and display it countless times to the watching public *and* the crowd at the ground on giant screens.

  • Comment number 78.

    Totally agree with banning the feint or dummy. However, one perennial issue is the way referees continually allow the goalkeeper to come off his line to try to save, and to move before the ball is kicked. All penalties missed when such tactics are used should be retaken. You can't have the taker governed by anti-gamesmanship rules, but not the keeper!

    Referees have been cowardly in failing to stamp out this abuse.

  • Comment number 79.

    "Fifa's new directive to all 29 World Cup referees and their assistants means that any players who stop once they have started their run-up will now be booked, any resulting goals will be disallowed and the spot-kick will be re-taken."


    How will it be re-taken if the taker has received a 2nd yellow card and so has been sent off?

  • Comment number 80.

    A different player will take it - this is allowed even if a player is not sent off.

  • Comment number 81.

    The feigning and stuttering whilst running up to take the penalty requires great skill, why ban it? It still is only 1 kick, It's down to the goalkeepers incompetence if they dive too early. The Brazilians especially are masters of this.

  • Comment number 82.

    Does anybody agree Michel Platini should be replaced as head of UEFA with immediate effect. Generally speaking it is clear he has an agenda against the England, maybe he is jealous england boast the greatest league in the world, afterall the French Ligue 1 does not even come close to the German league never mind the EPL!

  • Comment number 83.

    @82 Agree with you - never been fond of Platini. Should stick to the football side rather than the business/administration aspects of it. Did he not wave goal-line technology too?!?
    Sounds like the Goalkeepers' Union has been on to FIFA grousing about the match ball being used in the WC.

    And FIFA's response is to give the keepers extra leeway by punishing penalties/run-ups/scoring et al.

    The thrill of a penalty or PK shoot-out is both PK taker and keeper trying to out-guess each other at the defining moment [usually the keeper is five yards off the line before it is hit.]

    Now it's just a case of run-up and blast it. If this backfires will FIFA be changing the rules to state PK takers must only take a step back to hit the ball a la fives rules for the 2012 Euros? The game's gone mad!


  • Comment number 84.

    It just goes to show that the FA don't have a monopoly on stupidity...

    What other walk of life do you see new ideas initially tested on the biggest stage. In football the World Cup always gives us;

    a new ball that doesn't behave like a ball
    new refereeing directives that nobody has had a chance to get used to
    more trivial ways of getting cautioned or sent off

    There is a flat refusal to look at any new technology that might help improve the game and aid referees and at the same time an insistance on using new technology to develop weirder and weirder balls.

    As for FIFA investigating corruption, don't make me laugh. What next, Nick Griffin to head up the "Kick It Out" campaign?

  • Comment number 85.

    Fifa has always sent out mixed messages - the said and done column in the Guardian is practically full of Fifa misdemeanours.

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    It seems that now the FA and Scottish FA are looking to have the elections delayed until the outcome of this whole situation.

    If you ask me, that is a no brainer.


  • Comment number 88.

    Everyone could understand South Africa getting the World Cup. Russia less so, but why on earcth did Qatar get it?

  • Comment number 89.

    I think there is a vast lack of incentive to root out corruption in the game. FIFA on twitter pointed out that the FIFA ethics committee investigation into the collusion between the Spain & Qatar bids began and ended with a letter to both countries asking if they did anything improper. Every time the World Cup is around, people want to forget the corruption and enjoy the football. I think that with the next World Cup 3 years away. Now is the time to act. There is a whole lot of self interest in the system and I think that as fans we need to get informed and figure out how to get our voices heard. My final point would be with regards to the current model of football governance – it is broken and if we want it changed then we had better do something about it.

  • Comment number 90.

    Mirko, I agree - now is the time to act. There is a worrying lack of interest outside of England for some reason (I guess some cultures are more used to bribery and corruption, so there is less surprised people and journalists?)

    Blatter has won loyalty from federations by the way he has backed them against the government (i.e Nigeria, so its no wonder they come out in support of him.

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 92.

    There must be all sorts going on undetected - its only when players move to big clubs we learn of dodgy deals (ie Tevez and Mascherano were only found out after they left West Ham for United & Liverpool).

    For every deal that gets caught (like John Obi Mikel's) there must be tens that go through unnoticed because they dont get the scutiny there is at the highest level.


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