Japan out as Fifa think again

Paraguay reach World Cup quarters for the first time while Fifa rethink technology.

    Yuto Nagatomo shows the pain of a shootout loss [GALLO/GETTY]

    Paraguay dramatically beat Japan in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time while Fifa reversed its resistance to considering goalline technology following two glaring refereeing mistakes.

    The South Americans won the penalties 5-3 after the two sides fought to a goalless stalemate after extra time and will meet the winner of Tuesday's later match between Iberian neighbours Spain and Portugal.

    Fifa President Sepp Blatter, who himself effectively closed the door on technological innovation only three months ago, did an abrupt about-turn after two glaring referee errors on Sunday blighted the World Cup.

    He said it would be "nonsense" not to re-consider using technology but made clear only goalline decisions and not video replays to determine other match rulings would be discussed.

    Blatter has for years opposed technology that is used to settle controversial decisions in most other major sports.

    He apologised directly to the English and Mexican football federations after television replays showed they were victims of blatantly wrong decisions over a disallowed England goal when 2-1 down in their 4-1 drubbing by Germany and a clear Argentine offside in their 3-1 victory.

    Referees dropped

    The referees responsible for those two decisions have been dropped for the remainder of the tournament, Fifa said on Tuesday.

    "It is obvious that after the experiences so far at this World Cup it would be a nonsense not to re-open the file on goalline technology," Blatter said.

    "We cannot change anything with 10 games to go in the World Cup, but we will look again at technology, goalline technology, at the business meeting of the (law-making) International Football Association Board in Cardiff, Wales in July."


    In Tuesday's match, Japan's Yuichi Komano hit the crossbar with the third spot kick, the only one missed in the first shootout of the finals.

    They succumbed to a powerful jinx that has prevented any Asian team ever beating a South American side in the World Cup.
    Paraguay, who join Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in the last eight, made no mistakes.

    It will be the first time four South American teams have reached the quarter-finals.

    Referees at a training session in Pretoria said they were ready to implement any new technology approved by Fifa.


    "I am open-minded for anything that would make us more credible," said English referee Howard Webb.

    Blatter also threw down a stern warning to the French government not to interfere in football, saying its federation would face sanctions that could include suspension - and a consequent international competition ban for its national and club teams - if the sport was treated as a state issue.

    The French federation head, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, announced his resignation on Monday after the team returned in disgrace following a chaotic players' revolt and dismal first round failure in South Africa.

    A top level political inquest is set to continue in France despite Blatter's warning.

    Both Escalettes and outgoing coach Raymond Domenech are due to appear at a parliamentary commission on Wednesday.

    In another unexpected political intervention, Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the early elimination of England, France and the United States was a just punishment for their support of a new round of sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme.

    Iranians did not qualify for the World Cup but fans have been glued to television coverage.

    In Tuesday's evening match in Cape Town, Spain's talent-crammed side will assault the so far impregnable defence of neighbours Portugal in a fight for the last quarter final place.

    South African police said on Tuesday they had arrested a British tabloid journalist for helping a fan gain access to the England dressing room after a World Cup soccer match.

    Sunday Mirror reporter Simon Wright was arrested in Cape Town on Monday after closed circuit television footage indicated he helped 32-year-old fan Pavlos Joseph get into the England locker room after their June 18 draw with Algeria, police said.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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