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FIFA Committee Responds to Referee Criticism

June 30, 2006

The Referees Committee of FIFA, world soccer's governing body, rejected charges of poor officiating during the World Cup and added that quality of refereeing has been higher than ever.

Coaches, players high-ranking soccer executives have had scathing criticism for the men in black, with FIFA President Sepp Blatter saying one referee deserved a "yellow card" for his performance on the pitch. German soccer legend and head World Cup Organizing Committee Franz Beckenbauer also had harsh words for the abundance of cards issued by the tournament's officials.

But Angel Maria Villar, Spanish chairman of the referees panel, said there have been no serious problems with officiating at the tournament, despite the attention given to the three yellow cards English referee Graham Poll issued the same player, and the record-setting 20 yellow cards Russia's Valentin Ivanov issued in a quarter-final match between the Netherlands and Portugal.

"Ninety per cent of the refereeing has been at a very high level at this World Cup, a far cry from Korea and Japan in 2002," he said. "We have far less serious injuries and far more goals scored."

Villar lent his support to both Poll and Ivanov, the two referees who have received the most criticism and who have been released from their World Cup duties, calling them "outstanding referees."

"Mr. Poll is a great ref and a great man who has admitted to a mistake." he said. "Mr. Valentin is a great referee who showed the cards as he saw fit."

But a referee will never be able to please everyone all the time, Villar added.

"Of course there have been errors -- but we are all human beings and we have the right to make mistakes," he said. "We want a clean World Cup and we are achieving that."