Football: FA Cup rematch in doubt

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The Independent Online
ARSENAL'S FA Cup fifth-round rematch against Sheffield United on Tuesday could be called off on a technicality.

Fifa, world football's governing body, is investigating the Football Association's decision to nullify the result after Arsenal and Sheffield United agreed to the game being played again because of controversy over the winning goal. It was scored when Arsenal failed to return the ball to their opponents after its was kicked out to allow an injured player to be treated.

Fifa's general secretary, Michael Zen-Ruffinen, who is attending the annual meeting of the game's law-makers, the International Board (IB), at Llantrisant, Wales, said yesterday that a decision on whether the FA had broken the rules of the competition in allowing a rematch would be taken "by Monday at the latest". If Fifa rules against the FA decision, the original result would stand.

David Davies, the FA's acting chief executive who took the decision soon after last Saturday's game, is sure no rules of the competition had been broken. "We have sole ownership of the FA Cup and while Fifa are doing this to satisfy themselves, I am certain the match will go ahead as planned," he said.

Arsenal's managing director, Ken Friar, said: "The FA have given permission for us to re-stage the game on Tuesday and as far as we are concerned it will go ahead as planned."

The IB ruled yesterday that diving, feigning injury and any other form of cheating will become an automatic yellow card offence next season. It also announced that it is looking at experimenting with two referees and the use of technology to judge whether the ball has crossed the line for a goal.