The linesman at the centre of England's disallowed goal storm has admitted he was caught out by the speed of Frank Lampard's shot. Mauricio Espinosa, the Uruguayan official, failed to spot Lampard's effort, which bounced over the line after crashing down off the underside of the bar during England's 4-1 last 16 defeat to Germany in Bloemfontein. Had the goal been given, England would have drawn level at 2-2. Fabio Capello is convinced his side could have then gone on to win the game. It turned out to be the last game Espinosa was involved in as Fifa did not include him on their retained list for the last eight and beyond. Espinosa told El Pais: "It was a very fast shot that I did not see properly, even though I was located in the right place."
The Brazilian Football Federation late on Sunday night confirmed that Dunga has been dismissed following the country's elimination from the World Cup. Dunga indicated that he was likely to leave his post after Brazil's hopes of a sixth World Cup triumph were ended by Holland in Port Elizabeth on Friday. "Ending the cycle of work that began in August 2006, and ended with the elimination of Brazil from the World Cup in South Africa, the CBF announces that the technical committee of the national team has been released," the statement on the CBF's official website read. "The new technical committee will be announced later this month."
Gerardo Martino, the Paraguay coach, is leaving the national team and Roque Santa Cruz, the striker, says this was his last World Cup. Martino and Santa Cruz announced their plans yesterday as the team arrived home following a 1-0 loss in the quarter-finals to Spain. Martino said his four-year contract had expired, but the Argentine promised fans greeting the team on their return that he would help with the transition to a new coach. Without being specific, he said he had job offers in Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. "My four-year contract is up," Martino said. "But I will stay around a bit longer to organise things." Santa Cruz said his body is telling him it's time to go. "This is my last World Cup," the Manchester City forward said. "My soul wants to continue, but by my body says no."
Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, yesterday claimed the World Cup in South Africa has been a success. Critics had predicted that fans would be deterred by high travel costs and the high crime rate in the country, while even Fifa themselves admitted earlier this year that ticket sales had not gone as well as they had hoped. Blatter told reporters in Johannesburg: "More than 500,000 fans will have come to South Africa and some are talking about the figure being even higher. The forecast from 'old Europe' was the fans wouldn't come - well here they are. I am a very happy president today and I hope I will be happy until the very end of this week."
Ravshan Irmatov and Viktor Kassai will referee the World Cup semi-finals, Fifa announced yesterday. Uzbekistan's Irmatov will take charge of the Hollamd-Uruguay match at Cape Town tonight for his fifth match of the finals. The 32-year-old Irmatov also refereed the Germany-Argentina quarter-final and the opening match between South Africa and Mexico. He has yet to issue a red card or award a penalty in the tournament. Kassai will officiate the Germany-Spain match at Durban tomorrow for his fourth assignment.
World football's two most prestigious player of the year awards will merge into a single title called the Ballon d'Or beginning next year. Europe's existing Ballon d'Or and Fifa's World Player of the Year award will cease to exist as individual entities and the new award will be given for the first time in January. The deal was announced by France Football publisher Marie-Odile Amaury and Fifa president Sepp Blatter yesterday. France Football created its European Footballer of the Year award in 1956 from a poll of international journalists. The award was later opened to international players. Fifa first presented its award in 1991.
Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian President, yesterday reversed a ban on the national team taking part in international matches following their poor showing at the World Cup, just hours before a threatened suspension by Fifa, world football's governing body. "The ban has been reversed," a source in the Nigerian presidency said, asking not to be named.