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Blatter Concerned About Low Scores

July 07, 2006|From the Associated Press

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is worried that this year's World Cup might end up the lowest-scoring ever, and he wants to figure out ways to "make football more attractive again."

The 2006 World Cup has averaged 2.27 goals per match so far, a shade above the record low of 2.21 from 1990. This year's average would dip below that if no goals are scored in Saturday's Germany-Portugal third-place game and the France-Italy final Sunday.

"The football isn't that bad, but there aren't enough goals.... And when there are too few goals, the public isn't very enthusiastic," Blatter said. "The essence of the game is goals."

Blatter wants to devise changes that will help attackers break through increasingly sophisticated defenses.

"We will set up a large symposium with the 32 World Cup coaches, the referees, the doctors and the technical study group of the World Cup," Blatter said.

"We want to hear what they have to say about what we can do to make football more attractive again."

Ideas might include widening the goals and revamping offside rules. After the low-scoring 1990 World Cup, FIFA reacted by eliminating the pass back to the goalkeeper.

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Italy defender Alessandro Nesta has been ruled out of Sunday's World Cup final against France at Berlin because of a right thigh injury.

"I announce with great displeasure that he's not available for Sunday," team doctor Enrico Castellacci said.

Nesta sat out Italy's last three matches after aggravating a long-term injury during Italy's 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in the first round.

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Argentina's Horacio Elizondo was selected to referee the final between three-time champion Italy and 1998 winner France.

Elizondo, a 42-year-old physical education teacher, officiated Portugal's quarterfinal victory over England, when he sent off England striker Wayne Rooney for stepping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho.

He also was the referee at the opening match on June 9, when host Germany beat Costa Rica, 4-2, in Munich.

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Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina's Lionel Messi are among the six candidates for the World Cup's best young player.

Other finalists are Tranquillo Barnetta of Switzerland, Cesc Fabregas of Spain, Lukas Podolski of Germany and Luis Valencia of Ecuador.

The award goes to "the player born on or after Jan. 1, 1985, who makes the biggest impression at the FIFA World Cup."

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