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Afternoon Ticker: FIFA calls emergency meeting, Wigan to refund fans and more

Blatter (Reuters)

by TRAVIS CLARK

After a week of controversy around Europe, Sepp Blatter and FIFA have taken notice, and are posturing themselves to take action. Soccer's governing body has called a meeting for December 2 in Cape Town, South Africa, in response to some of the controversies of the past week.

In the wake of the match fixing scandal that has permeated throughout several European countries, the handball in the France-Ireland match, and other gambling irregularities, a meeting has been called two days prior to the World Cup draw.

Hundreds of arrests around Europe have taken place as a result of a match-fixing scandal, after investigations into alleged irregularities had been completed. Countries suspected to be involved are Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia and Austria, with games in second division leagues and lower affected.

Here are some other stories for Monday:

Wigan players to refund fans

After the 9-1 loss to Tottenham in North London, Wigan players have spoken out against their horrendous performance, and offered to provide a ticket refund to all traveling supporters.

"We feel that as a group of players we badly let down our supporters yesterday, and this is a gesture we HAVE TO make and pay them back for their tremendous loyalty," captain Mario Melchiot said in a statement on the club's website. Full refunds are available to fans who contact the ticket office within 14 days of the match.

On the receiving end of one of the highest goal tallies in league history, Wigan have endured a rather up-and-down season. The Latics have beaten Chelsea at home, but have lost to Portsmouth 4-0 and Hull 2-1. How fans respond to this gesture will be interesting, seeing as how frustratingly inconsistent their club has been this season.

Henry pondered retirement after hand ball

In yet another peculiar statement in the aftermath of the handball scandal, Thierry Henry said that he considered retiring from international soccer after the horrendous reaction to the striker's hand ball against Ireland last week. Henry criticized the French Federation for not supporting him directly in the wake of harsh criticism.

"The day after the match, and the day after that, I felt alone, really alone," Henry told L'Equipe. "It was only after I issued my statement that the people from the French Federation got in touch."

It's hard to know how accurate of a statement that really is, as the 32-year-old has come out with differing opinions after setting up the winning goal. On the one hand, Henry has stated his support for a replay, but shortly after FIFA had ruled that was not a possibility.

Torres out against Debrecen

Liverpool will have to score a huge win in Hungary Tuesday without the services of Spanish striker Fernando Torres. In need of a win and some help from French side Lyon, to keep their dim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League alive. The Reds sit on four points from four games, and anything short of three points in Hungary won't be good enough.

Torres sustained a groin injury while on international duty over a month ago, and his slow recovery continues as Liverpool's form continues to dip in both the league and in Europe. The striker didn't even make the flight to Hungary, given that he'd have no chance of playing. Ryan Babel, injured in Saturday's 2-2 draw against Manchester City, is also among the missing for the Reds.
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What do you think of the news FIFA is calling a meeting? Think Wigan players are doing their fans right by giving them money? Is Thierry Henry being honest by saying he'd retire? Can Liverpool win this week against Debrecen?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. I disagree Pico, especially for the goal keeper, you are not sure 100% of the time where you are; you just try and make the save. On the goal line, even 1 mm makes a difference, and while diving, your focus is first on the ball, then your surroundings.

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  2. @Joaquim,

    If the ball crosses the goal line it is a goal. If a goalie pulls it out and the ref does not sanction it, then that team got away with one. That goal should have counted. You see it all the times when goalies try to frame the ball so it looks like it did not go in. It might not be explicitly described in the rule book as you point out, but at that particular point in time the intent of the goalie is equivalent of cheating the other team off a legitimate goal.

    But the bigger issue is that you are trying to rationalize and justify a bad call that went your way. It happens to most fans everywhere.

    I am not denying the fact that Henry committed a sanction-able act, a lot of players do, but that is the refs’ job to make those calls. Just like my Howard example, the ref messed up.

    Cheers

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  3. No, he didn’t. Show me where in the rulebook it says that if the ball crosses the plane of the goal, the keeper is not permitted to pull it out. My point is that on that play, it was literally just a case of the referee not seeing what happened. No infraction was committed. Henry actually committed a prohibited act.

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  4. Not at all. Even if you are really tough and you think you can contribute what happens when in the 10th or 20th minute you realize that you weren’t really ready? THen there goes a substitution. Brian Westbrook does this every season. He feels good enough to go but in the second quarter realizes that it’s worse than thought and comes out to rest and then might even go a few plays in the 4th. You have to be completely sure that you’re ready. And to do this you have to go full out at practice for 90 minutes if you can;t then on the bench you go.

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  5. Or it culd just mean that American athletes are tougher and so their healing time is shortened……..i think some of our USMNT players that have played high school football, or pop warner, build that mentality, i no that when i play football in the fall for my high school, and then soccer in the winter, my teammates and I rarely fall, or get taken out

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  6. “Oh Ives….come on now….”

    “by TRAVIS CLARK”

    People seem to have trouble with this pretty frequently around here. I guess the whole “Soccer By Ives” thing throws folks off…

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  7. FIFA is all ready holding a meeting on either the 2nd or 3rd to determine how they will conduct the seeding of the teams for the World Cup. I would love to be a fly on the wall for these meetings. Someone on the committee needs to take a stand and make a change for the good.

    yes we can

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  8. Yeah, but Howard’s the goalie; he doesn’t have the luxury of walking to the referee, especially assuming he’s got the ball in his hand and the referee is outside the eighteen yard box.

    As for retirement, well……he’s going through goalkeeper mid-career crisis if anything, but not retirement.

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  9. “Sepp Blatter and FIFA … are posturing themselves to take action.”

    Couldn’t be more accurately worded. Posturing, that’s all it is.

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  10. As opposed to Henry, who clearly didn’t “act like he did not do anything wrong” by celebrating the goal. For a keeper its not always clear when the entire ball has crossed the plane of the goal. either way though, cheating sucks.

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  11. Great article on the betting scandal in the NY Times:

    Something Is Very Rotten in the State of Soccer
    By ROB HUGHES
    Published: November 22, 2009
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/23/sports/soccer/23iht-SOCCER.html?_r=1

    Excerpt from article:

    The proliferation of online betting, with FIFA and UEFA condoning countless clubs, and even leagues, in Europe to advertise them, is an anomaly that does not occur, for example, in the United States.

    Europe has an unholy alliance between betting promotion and the game. The United States runs the opposite way, which is why Gary Kaplan, a New York bookmaker turned Internet betting mogul, has just been sentenced to 51 months in prison for operating an illegal sports betting organization.

    His company, based in Panama City and registered in London, flouted the law that forbids Americans to bet on sports online.

    The bookie and his associates thumbed their noses at the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act by taking bets from Americans, albeit from abroad. They were pursued by the F.B.I., brought to trial in Missouri and jailed. They had to surrender more than $50 million in assets.

    The United States, despite Las Vegas and all it stands for, has exhibited zero tolerance toward the betting that can lead to sporting corruption.

    Meanwhile, Zara Phillips, granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II and 12th in line to the British throne, became world equestrian trials champion, riding horses sponsored by Cantor Index, a spread betting company.

    What is taboo in the United States is legal in Europe. And some people from Asia to Russia to the heart of Europe can profit from that.

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  12. Perfect response. (Although I think you mean he made a “baD’ not “ball” decision?) I agree 100% wiht what you said.

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  13. Yes, I agree with some of you. It is amazing how Henry is somehow making himself the victim. The play happened and we must move on. Now it is up to FIFA to stop dancing around the subject and just add replay. We have the technology and MILLIONS of dollars are at stake. Fix it.

    I also don’t understand how teams in Europe openly endorse betting and even have betting websites advertised on their jersey. It completely cheapens the product.

    And as for the Wigan players refunding their fans? I think that might be one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Is there any precedent for a team doing this before? You have to respect that.

    http://www.americansoccerhooligan.com

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  14. What Henry did was indeed cheating but i find it rather unfair that the soccer world is still talking and berating him about it. What about all the horrendous dives that also led to the game winning goals in important games? If so, then we should still be discussing how C.Ronaldo and Rooney’s theatrics eventually led Man U to many league titles

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  15. FIFA is ridiculous. The entire situation w/ France and Ireland was mismanaged…they “hid” behind the rules rather than citing the obvious egregious technical error and ordering a replay. I also partly fault the FFF for not being more bold in pushing for a replay.

    As for the match fixing, FIFA seems incapable of keeping officials and players from the negative reach and influence of organized crime.

    At the end of the day, I think FIFA remains an elitist, old guard club mostly concerned with protecting and advancing the traditional European soccer powers, and to some extent Brazil and Argentina. Look at the entire WC draw process…what a joke!

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  16. cj, maybe YOU will remember zidane and henry for those stupid moments. i will remember all the great moments in futbol they’ve giving to everyone watching. it’s not the 1st an certainly not the last time a player will do whatever they need to do to win. everyone just get over it.

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  17. Interesting…

    In one of the recent US qualifying games, Tim Howard pulled an opponent’s shot that had clearly gone over the goal line and fell on it. There was no call and play continued. The comment in SBI live blog were along the lines: “Wow! we got a break!” and “Good play Tim”. John Harke’s comment during the game was also “The US got a break, but as a player you are taught to continue play until you hear the whistle”

    After the game Tim was asked about that particular shot and he also responded the same “We are taught to continue play until we hear the whistle”.

    Did Tim Howard cheat? What excuse would you make for him on that play? Where were the cries of moral outrage then?

    The day you accepted that blown call that benefited your team – national or team, you implicitly accepted the fact that bad calls can also go against you.

    Henry made a ball decision and I do believe that he regrets it, but this was clearly a blown referee call.

    Cheers

    Reply
  18. Hajra Loki! (Hail Lokomotiv!)

    Debrecen’s nickname are lokomotiv or “loki”.

    They have been a club slowly on the rise. They should give Liverpool a good fight. They have given everyone a good fight for their first time in Champions League play.

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  19. The only reason Henry said what he said was strictly for his own PR. He is looked on as a cheat and he said that the game should be played over and that he considered quitting the game just to save his own hide. Unfortunately, Henry along with Zidane will be known for what the bad things they did. I can bet that Henry will now be getting his agent to talk to NYRB after the WC so he can escape his “own hell.”

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  20. Henry is FULL OF IT. How did he become the victim???? Gosh, you guys are mean. I’m taking my bat and ball and going home. I don’t wanna play with you anymore.

    Pleeeeeeeeeeze.

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  21. We are guranteed not to be in the South Africa or Italian groups. We will be in the same pot as Asia.

    We are guranteed a seeded team(obviously), another Euro(take your pick) and an african team not SA. I think that will be Ivory Coast.

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  22. Determining “how to land Honduras and New Zealand into Group A” is CERTAINLY on FIFA’s Dec. 2 list as well. Funny they left that one off.

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  23. Um… I’m sure extra stuff was added to the agenda, but this meeting was always scheduled.

    They were always going to finalize the formula for World Cup seeding and the Pots for the draw on Dec. 2.

    Like I said, I’m sure you’re right about them wanting to discuss all of this stuff, but they didn’t call a special meeting just for that.

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  24. Henry saying he considered quitting soccer is about as serious as me saying “I’ll never eat another Dorito” after mowing through a whole bag.

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  25. Looking forward to seeing how Blatter & Warner try and convince the general public that the scope of the match fixing scandal was limited to second (and lower) divisions.

    Henry complaining about the lack of support he received after getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar?

    Priceless

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  26. No. Other than European teams there cannot be two teams from the same confederation in a group.

    If seeding is similar to 2006 the best USA could hope for is something like

    “South Africa, Slovakia, Uruguay and USA”

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  27. Omar,
    I’m guessing it has to do with the fact that soccer requires such endurance during a match and the minimal number of substitutions.

    In football, you can come in and out of a game after any play, and you get time off of the injury while the other team has the ball (or vice versa). Baseball doesn’t exactly require a whole lot of running.

    Basically, if you aren’t 80-90% fit for a match, there really isn’t any use for you to suit up and take the spot of someone who is fit.

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  28. In America we have had our share of gambling scandals in sports but it is totally out of control in Europe and the rest of the world. What do you expect when clubs are advertising gambling websites front and center on their shirts. There has never been a separation between gambling and the game and until FIFA decides that their needs to be separation like they do in the U.S. we will continue to see these scandals.

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  29. Maybe the Red Nulls should take a page out of Wigan’s book and offer a refund for all ticket purchases for last season — a complete write off.

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  30. I can’t stop thinking about the World Cup draw… can the 4th of December be here already? Can we get an early Christmas gift of South Africa/Slovakia/USA/Algeria <<< I don't even know if thats possible.

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  31. Is it just me or do soccer players remain sidelined for weeks and weeks by injuries that seem to affect athletes in other sports for a third of that time?

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  32. It’s good the Henry is trying to make up for it. But, the fact still stands that he cheated to get his country into the cup. It’s really too bad that that had to happen.

    I think it’s funny that Wigan is offereing refunds to its fans. But, after a 9-1 drubbing, I would want my money back too, so I think it’s cool that they are doing that.

    Hopefully FIFA gets a hold of its own organization and stops all of the crap going on. Getting tired of the politics and just want to watch good soccer.

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