Football: Clock on keepers

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Football's world governing body, Fifa, plans to limit the time goalkeepers have to get the ball back into play - but make it legal for them to move on the line before a penalty.

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa general secretary, said yesterday that the governing body would discuss the changes to the rules at a meeting on 1 March.

"I have nothing against goalkeepers, quite the opposite. They have it hard enough. But Fifa wants to stop them getting away with wasting so much time," Blatter said. "Too often you notice a goalkeeper because he is standing still rather than moving.

"He catches the ball, strokes it, holds it tightly, waves at all the other players that they should leave him alone with his private property, lets a few more seconds tick by, looks around a bit more and then he finally gets rid of it," he said.

"In all that, 10 seconds, sometimes 20 seconds, are lost," said Blatter, adding that Fifa was thinking of limiting goalkeepers to five seconds.

Goalkeepers will now, however, be allowed to move on the line before a penalty kick which is at present against the rules but very common, he added.

In Brazil, the defending champions Palmeiras were seething at a female referee who disallowed a goal and sent off one of their players during their 1-1 draw with promoted Sao Jose in the Sao Paulo championship at the weekend.

The Canadian Sonia Denoncourt was in charge because the Sao Paulo federation is now using foreign referees for important matches to avoid accusations that officials are subject to influences or pressure off the field.