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Tuesday, June 29, 2010
How are you feeling now, FIFA?

Posted by Paul Grant

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- The World Cup might be hitting a high note, but FIFA itself is enduring a bit of a scratchy stretch these days.

The most recent fervor kicked up after the English goal that was missed by the referees in Sunday's Germany-England game. Then, with the controversy barely cooled, an offside call was missed in the next game, resulting in a goal for Argentina against Mexico.

The damage-control scramble was evident earlier this morning when FIFA president Sepp Blatter apologized for the gaffes (isn't "gaffe" too trivial a word for such mistakes?).

"Personally, I deplore it when you see evident referee mistakes, but it's not the end of a competition or the end of football; this can happen," he told a select group of media. "The only thing I can do is, yesterday I have spoken to the two federations, England and Mexico, directly concerned by referees' mistakes. I have expressed to them apologies, and I understand they are not happy and that people are criticizing. We will naturally take on board the discussion on technology and have [a] first opportunity in July at the business meeting."

And we shouldn't forget the fact that FIFA is threatening the French government -- well, how else would you put it? -- warning it to mind its own business and not punish the disgraced French national team.

Then, just so we wouldn't forget the past controversies, Koman Coulibaly, the referee of some notoriety who disallowed a goal in the U.S.-Slovenia game, re-emerged to say he didn't expect to be working any other games for the rest of the tournament, refreshing more harsh memories.

To add insult to injury came the news that FIFA's offices in Johannesburg were broken into Sunday night, resulting in the theft of seven replica World Cup trophies and some player jerseys. (Hard to contend South African crime isn't an issue now.)

No word whether there were security cameras in the FIFA offices. You know, for instant replay.