x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

World Cup diary: Sneijder gets credit for goal against Brazil

Fifa's technical study group (TSG) is in danger of making the contest to be the World Cup's top scorer a farce after awarding Wesley Sneijder both of Holland's goals against Brazil.

Fifa's technical study group (TSG) is in danger of making the contest to be the World Cup's top scorer a farce after awarding Wesley Sneijder both of Holland's goals against Brazil. The first goal came after Brazil's Felipe Melo headed on what was clearly a cross by Sneijder, the Inter Milan midfielder. The TDG - including the likes of Gerard Houllier, the former Liverpool manager - has ruled that he should be credited with the goal, which made him joint top scorer along with Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina), Robert Vittek (Slovakia), David Villa (Spain), Thomas Muller and Miroslav Klose (both Germany) before Spain played Paraguay last night. Fifa said in a statement: "Shots which are on target (ie goal bound) and come off a defender, or shots which rebound from the goal-frame and bounce off a defender or goalkeeper may be considered as an own goal, but in the instance of the Netherlands' opening goal against Brazil, the TSG have decided to credit the goal to the attacking player."

Fifa will not discipline Cristiano Ronaldo for spitting as he left the field after Portugal's second-round loss with Spain. Fifa says its disciplinary committee found no grounds to open a case against the Portugal captain. Ronaldo was being followed by a TV cameraman filming him after the final whistle of his team's 1-0 loss in Cape Town on Tuesday. The ex-Fifa World Player of the Year appeared to stare into the lens then spit near the camera operator's feet.

Diego Maradona's press conferences have become something of must-see event at this World Cup, if only to discover who he will offend next. The Argentina manager attended one smoking a cigar, against Fifa rules, and rebuked a journalist for "the longest question ever" at another. He then burst into a broad smile when a woman from Al Jazeera asked the spikiest question of the week: "Do you think you have got here by false pretences?" A direct reference to the offside goal scored by Carlos Tevez against Mexico. "I love to see a woman asking me a question," replied Maradona. At which point you suspect he lost the feminist vote.

World Cup organisers are hopeful that Nelson Mandela will make a long-awaited appearance at the event when the final is played in Johannesburg next week. The former South African president, who turns 92 this month, is increasingly frail and has yet to appear at the tournament. He had planned to come to the opening ceremony but cancelled after his great-granddaughter was killed in a car accident on the eve of the first game. Mandela has been following the tournament closely and sent a personal message to the Ghana squad ahead of their quarter-final against Uruguay. An appearance by Mandela at the final at Soccer City would crown what has been an historic tournament for South Africa. Mandela was instrumental in securing the World Cup for South Africa by visiting a number of Fifa executive committee members. World Cup sponsors Sony are jumping on the Mandela bandwagon by hosting a "3-D Mandela tribute" ahead of his birthday on July 18.

Richard Kingson, the Ghana goalkeeper, won plenty of admirers with his shot-stopping, but he clearly had done no homework whatsoever when it came to the penalty shoot-out. Sebastian Abreu, the Uruguay striker who clinched the shoot-out with a penalty dinked over the keeper, is famed for taking spot-kicks in that fashion and did so to beat Brazil in the 2007 Copa America. Abreu is nicknamed "El Loco" - the crazy one - but his coach Oscar Tabarez said: "It wasn't crazy, I call that class. He did that against Brazil in Copa America and the result was the same." Such penalties are known as "Panenkas" after Antonin Panenka scored one for Czechoslovakia to win the 1976 European Championship at the expense of Germany.

Nicolas Lodeiro, the Uruguay midfielder, is out of the World Cup after fracturing a bone in his right foot, the team said yesterday. Lodeiro, 21, who has been used mostly as a substitute, replaced Alvaro Fernandez at half-time against Ghana. Diego Lugano, the team's captain, is having tests after damaging the ligaments in his right knee, while fellow defender Diego Godin has returned to training, the statement added. Uruguay face Holland in the semi-final at Cape Town on Tuesday.