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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup chit-chat: Vanishing spray debut and many more...

World Cup chit-chat: Vanishing spray debut and many more...

June 13, 2014 10:00 IST

World Cup chit-chat: Vanishing spray debut and many more...

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The vanishing spray used by referees to mark the 10 yards distance between a free kick and the defensive wall of players made its debut at World Cup level in Thursday's opening game between Brazil and Croatia.

-Football World Cup

The aerosol can which sprays a white foam-like substance that disappears from vision quickly after use has previously been used in tournaments including the 2011 Copa America, Copa Libertadores matches and in Major League Soccer.

Use of the small can has been credited with cutting out time-consuming disputes with referees able to swiftly illustrate the place the kick should be taken from and the distance the wall needs to step back to.

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Image: A referee sprays vanishing spray to mark
Photographs: Dado Galdieri/Getty Images

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Standing paraplegic patient kicks ball to open World Cup

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A standing paraplegic man kicked the first football ball of the World Cup in Sao Paulo on Thursday, a triumphant moment for a research project aiming to give patients who have lost feeling in their legs the ability to walk again.

Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, normally based at North Carolina's Duke University, has developed a robotic exoskeleton to assist patients' movement.

In late April, three patients took steps while wearing the exoskeleton, according to Nicolelis, who posted a celebratory tweet on Thursday saying ‘we did it!’ His team plans to publish research on the project soon.

Sao Paulo's Corinthians arena has been criticized for delays and cost overruns, but wheelchair-bound fans, including Congresswoman Mara Gabrilli, were pleasantly surprised at the access and army of support staff they had at a rehearsal game on June 1.

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Image: Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis holds a soccer ball covered with a hood of electronic sensors in Sao Paulo
Photographs: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

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Trauma over for Robben as nemesis Casillas looms again

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Netherlands forward Arjen Robben has put to bed the trauma of the missed chance he had to win the 2010 World Cup as his team prepare to face world champions Spain again in their Group B opener on Friday.

But the prospect of going head-to-head again with Iker Casillas, the Spanish goalkeeper whose outstretched leg denied the Dutchman a possible World Cup-winning goal in South Africa, means he must relive a moment of notoriety.

“I’m surprised it took five questions before it came up,” Robben joked with reporters on Thursday after the Dutch completed their preparations at the Fonte Nova arena in Salvador.

“Of course it will stay with me for the rest of my life, you can’t deny that. But we are now looking ahead. That all doesn’t count any more.

“It’s in the past, it’s one of those things that happens in sport,” he added on the eve of an immediate rematch in Brazil for two of the tournament heavyweights.

He had obviously been expecting to be questioned about the moment when a through ball from midfield sent the lightning-quick Robben dashing between two defenders and into the Spanish penalty area.

With just the on-rushing goalkeeper to beat, Robben shot and Casillas got a just enough of his foot in the way to deflect the ball wide.

The television image of a disbelieving Robben, with his hands on his bald head realising a chance of making history had just slipped away, remains one of the lingering images of the 2010 World Cup.

A smiling Robben giggled through a mostly jocular news conference with his usually belligerent coach Louis van Gaal, who looked genuinely enthused by being at the World Cup as he refrained from his customary sparring with Dutch reporters.

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Image: Arjen Robben of Netherlands juggles the ball during the Netherlands training session
Photographs: David Ramos/Getty Images

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I wouldn't celebrate a goal against Germany, says Jones

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Not celebrating a goal against your former team has become something of a fashion in European club football, but United States midfielder Jermaine Jones says he will also follow that trend if he scores against his country of birth, Germany.

The United States and Germany have been drawn together in Group G and will meet on June 26 in Recife.

Born in Frankfurt to a German mother and American father, Jones was a Germany Under-21 international and played three times for the full national team in friendlies before switching his allegiance to the United States where he is coached by German Juergen Klinsmann.

"If I score against Germany, I will not celebrate. I think it's in respect. I grew up in this country (Germany) and it gave me a lot," he said on Thursday.

"I had my first caps for the national team in Germany... so I will not celebrate if I score. If somebody else scores, they can celebrate," he said.

Jones is one of five German-Americans in the squad along with defenders Timothy Chandler, Fabian Johnson and John Brooks and winger Julian Green.

The 32-year-old, who plays for Besiktas in Turkey, said there had been no problem integrating the quintet into the squad and suggested that any different treatment came from the media.

The US kick off their campaign against Ghana on Monday.

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Image: Jermaine Jones of the United States runs drills
Photographs: Kevin C Cox/Getty Images

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France team doctor blames Bayern for Ribery absence

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France team doctor Franck Le Gall has accused Franck Ribery’s club Bayern Munich of being responsible for the winger’s absence from the World Cup finals.

Le Gall said Ribery played as a substitute in the German Cup final on May 17 with-pain killing injections having suffered from back trouble for several weeks.

“Franck belongs to a club whose method of treatment for all pathologies, whatever they might be, is based on injections,” Le Gall said in a strong indictment of the Bundesliga champions.

“He had suffered from lumbago for several weeks. Despite that, he was lined up for the German Cup final,” Le Gall told a news conference at France’s Ribeirao Preto base in Brazil.

“He shouldn’t have played that match. He then came to us after he’d had pains for three weeks.

“Don’t forget he had an operation for a haematoma in his buttocks in February. He’s had a series of injuries since January,” Le Gall was quoted as saying by French daily Le Figaro.

“We could have chosen to infiltrate him, which we didn’t. At a certain moment he’d had enough of (injections), so we didn’t do that because he’s afraid of jabs.”

Le Gall said the conclusion of an examination the France team arranged for Ribery done by a French specialist was that there was no way for Ribery to play without pain.

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Image: Franck Ribery
Photographs: David Rogers/Getty Images

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Italy's De Sciglio ruled out for England game

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Italy left-back Mattia De Sciglio will miss Saturday's Group D opener against England in Manaus after picking up a thigh muscle strain in training.

Italy team doctor Enrico Castellacci told reporters that the tests had found a strain rather than a torn muscle and that De Sciglio would stay with the team as he looks to regain fitness.

De Sciglio was expected to start for the Azzurri against Roy Hodgson's side.

The defender could yet be fit for Italy's second game against Costa Rica on June 20 but in the meantime coach Cesare Prandelli will have to rejig his defence.

Ignazio Abate and Giorgio Chiellini could both fill-in at left-back in an orthodox back four or Prandelli could be tempted to go with a three man back line.

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Image: Mattia De Sciglio of Italy during a training session
Photographs: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

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Ronaldo says knee is 'fine'

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Cristiano Ronaldo told Portuguese media that his troublesome left knee was fine on Thursday during a training session in which a fan ran onto the field to get his autograph.

Ronaldo, who has suffered tendinosis around the knee, gave a thumbs up to RPT television when asked if he was 100 percent physically and said "it's fine."

Around 10,000 fans watched the open training session in Campinas in a carnival atmosphere.

At one point, a woman ran onto the pitch to try and reach Ronaldo, evaded one security guard and ran another 40 metres before being brought down by another.

Ronaldo, who played in Portugal's 5-1 friendly win over Ireland on Wednesday, went over to sign his autograph on her shirt before the Portugal players threw shirts into the crowd amid hysterical scenes.

Left back Fabio Coentrao was the only player to appear on the Portuguese federation's daily medical bulletin after he missed training because of a bruised right buttock.

Portugal face Germany in their opening World Cup game on Monday.

"Portugal will not change our style or identity against any opponents," said midfielder Joao Moutinho in a news conference after the practice. "We have to impose our type of football."

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Image: Cristiano Ronaldo (left) of Portugal stretches with teammate Raul Meireles
Photographs: Ray Stubblebine/Reuters

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Eto'o accused of 'treason' amid strike fallout

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Cameroon's affection for its favourite footballing son has turned sharply with striker Samuel Eto'o accused by local media of "treason" after leading strike action by their World Cup squad at the weekend.

Eto'o's tantrums and temperamental behaviour have long been tolerated because of his success on the field but it seems his country has had enough on the eve of their opening game against Mexico at the World Cup.

One newspaper editorial accused the four-time African Footballer of the Year and his team mates of ‘high treason’ as the fallout from their delayed departure to the tournament continued this week.

A strike by the World Cup-bound squad over money meant their expensively-chartered airline took off for Brazil almost 24 hours late as the players attempted to squeeze more appearance money out of their federation.

But what really rankled with the fans and media was the team's refusal to receive a symbolic flag from prime minister Philemon Yang at the end of their last warm-up international against Moldova in Yaounde last Saturday.

Their German coach Volker Finke accepted it on their behalf.

"We must now ask: which country do Eto'o and his comrades represent if they go to Brazil having refused to accept this country's most precious symbol, its flag?," asked the daily Mutations newspaper.

"The flag is a symbol of the nation. We can blame those in power (for our problems), but insulting the national anthem or trampling the flag is a sacrilege.”

Cameroon skipper Eto'o did not face the pre-match news conference in Natal on Thursday and team press manager Raphael Nkoa intervened to prevent players being questioned about the dispute. Vice-captain Enoh Eyong, though, said Eto'o was the squad's ‘natural leader’.

The website Camfoot added: "It's still Kafkaesque what happened with the Indomitable Lions. For Volker Finke, a German national, to receive the flag, supreme symbol of the nation, is totally inappropriate."

It said Eto’o, 33, was the leader of the squad who largely did whatever he wanted while the rest meekly followed.

In Natal, defender Nicolas N'Koulou, responding to suggestions that the dispute might damage their World Cup campaign, said the spirit in the squad was excellent.

Coach Finke said outsiders should not judge the way the negotiations had played out.

 


Image: Cameroon's captain Samuel Eto'o,right, controls the ball during a team practice session
Photographs: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

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