French official blames Blatter for 'catastrophic' refereeing

27th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

BERLIN, June 27, 2006 (AFP) - A leading French referee has slammed the "catastrophic" officiating at the World Cup and blamed FIFA President Sepp Blatter for putting politics before football in choosing referees.

BERLIN, June 27, 2006 (AFP) - A leading French referee has slammed the "catastrophic" officiating at the World Cup and blamed FIFA President Sepp Blatter for putting politics before football in choosing referees.

"They have selected the best teams from each continent, but not the best referees," said Bernard Saules, the president of the French national union of referees (UNAF).

"It has been a catastrophe from the start. FIFA and Mr Blatter have introduced some political shenanigans into the choice of the referees to keep this or that country happy, and this is the result," he told AFP.

"The best referees come from Europe, but only nine out of 26 of the referees at the World Cup are European," added Saules, though with that number the Europeans have the largest proportion of referees at the tournament.

"It is all right to bring along the referees of average standard for minor international competitions, but not the World Cup."

However, two of the most heavily criticised referees at football's showpiece have been Graham Poll of England and Russia's Valentin Ivanov.

Saules said he attributed their errors to the fact that the referees were now required to be too close to the action, meaning officials were chosen more for their physical condition than their judgement.

"The referees are in perfect physical condition, but the closer they are to the ball, the less they can see.

"The referees (for the World Cup) are made to train as if they were in the Army every day. They are running too much and I am not sure that is the best thing."

The French official said he believed video could help clear up contentious decisions, although FIFA says it has no plans to introduce the technology.

"I think it will help, but FIFA don't want to have anything to do with it," Saules said.

"But their reasoning just doesn't hold any water. It's like saying that we have got it wrong and we are going to carry on getting it wrong."

FIFA President Sepp Blatter criticised Ivanov's handling of Portugal's stormy 1-0 win over Netherlands in which the Russian showed a World Cup record four red cards and 16 yellow.

"The referee's actions harmed what could have been an excellent football match," Blatter said.

The referees' committee is due to meet on Wednesday to name the officials for the quarter-final matches.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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