Football: Fifa threat to Germany

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The Independent Online
Football's world governing body, Fifa, is to interview German officials this week about last Thursday's controversial decision to order a first division match to be replayed because of a refereeing error.

Fifa reacted angrily the last time that the German football federation (DFB) made a similar decision, threatening the country with a ban from the World Cup because it had disregarded the principle that a referee's factual decisions were irrevocable.

The governing body said on Friday that a leading DFB official would be visiting its Swiss headquarters for talks tomorrow. "He is here for a World Cup meeting but the matter is likely to be discussed," a spokeswoman said. "Fifa is aware of what has happened."

For only the second time in the history of the Bundesliga, the DFB ordered a first division match to be replayed following the 2-2 draw between 1860 Munich and Karlsruhe on 5 August.

1860 had complained that Karlsruhe's 87th-minute equaliser from Germany's South African-born international Sean Dundee was hit after the referee Michael Malbranc had blown for a foul. Karlsruhe immediately launched an appeal against the DFB's decision to order the replay.

In 1994 the DFB ordered another Bundesliga game between Bayern Munich and Nuremberg to be replayed after television pictures showed that the referee had made a mistake in awarding a goal.

Since then they also upset Fifa by ordering a second division match to be replayed because of refereeing mistakes. The world governing body ordered the national federation to reverse the decision.

The DFB also imposed a ban on the international midfielder Andy Moeller after television pictures showed he had taken a dive in the penalty area despite the fact that the referee had awarded a penalty.

The Brazilian international Romario will miss the start of the Spanish season on Saturday because of injury, his Valencia team doctor revealed yesterday.

Romario is expected to be out of action for up to two months after straining a thigh muscle in a friendly match against his former club Flamengo on Friday night.

The striker's absence will be a bitter blow to Valencia. They have several tough fixtures in the first month, including home games against Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Valencia had to work hard to persuade Romario to go back to Spain after they loaned him to Flamengo for last season. But since he reluctantly returned to the club in July he has been outstanding in pre-season matches and has scored five goals in nine games.

In France, Metz beat Paris-St Germain on Friday to move into first place in the first division.

Robert Pires scored the first goal on a penalty and Laurent Rodriguez added another in the 80th minute. Marco Simone scored in the final minute of regulation time for Paris, the second straight game he has scored, but it was too late.

Metz are now the only unbeaten club in the first division after four games. Nantes, champions two years ago, won for the first time in four games with a 2-1 away victory over Strasbourg.