Football: Fifa to amend amendment

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

SEPP BLATTER, the secretary-general of Fifa, said in Barcelona yesterday that officials of the game's governing body were hurriedly meeting to clarify the new back-pass rule before it comes into force on Friday, when Italy meet the United States in the first game of the Olympic tournament.

The amendment to Law XII states that goalkeepers will be punished with an indirect free-kick for handling a back-pass kicked to them. The outfield player can use any other part of his body, which has led to German professionals bending down and kneeing the ball back; this ruins the rule's aim of cutting down on time-wasting tactics. Blatter planned immediate action. 'We will discuss the wording to make it clear and take away any loopholes that may be against the spirit of football,' he said.

Blatter's superior, Joao Havelange, is to intervene in the Diego Maradona-Napoli dispute. Fifa's president said he was trying to organise a meeting in Barcelona tomorrow between the Argentinian, who says he will not honour the final year of his Napoli contract, and officials from the Italian club.

The bargaining between London Weekend Television and the capital's Football League clubs over live coverage next season continued yesterday with Lee Walker, the League's controller of broadcasting, making the clubs an improved offer. An LWT spokesman said the offer was worth 'substantially more than pounds 10,000' per game.

Cambridge United's players, disillusioned by the long-ball game, are continuing to vote with their feet. Steve Claridge has gone to Luton Town, Colin Bailie has threatened to quit, and three more Cambridge men with the blues intimated yesterday they could be about to follow them.

Richard Wilkins, Cambridge's 27-year-old midfielder, has pulled out of United's tour to Sweden, saying that he does want a change of scenery, but with another club, not in another country. Two of Wilkins's colleagues, Andy Fensome and Michael Cheetham, have rejected new contracts.

Ron Atkinson, the Aston Villa manager, has talked to Graeme Souness, his Liverpool counterpart, about signing Ray Houghton, the Republic of Ireland international. Villa's offer for the 30-year-old midfielder falls short of Souness's valuation and discussions will be reopened after Liverpool return from their summer tour. Villa are not short of money the club yesterday reported a record pounds 3.5m profit.

Neil Ruddock became a Tottenham player again yesterday, completing his move from Southampton after a League tribunal ruled that Spurs should pay pounds 750,000. Uefa, the European game's governing body, has halved the pounds 4,350 fine imposed on Spurs after supporters burnt a flag following a European tie in Rotterdam in March.

Dave Bennett, who helped Coventry overcome Spurs in the 1987 FA Cup final, may have reached the end of his career after breaking his leg playing for Swindon in a friendly against Yeovil on Monday.

David Lowe, the ex-England Under-21 striker, has left Ipswich Town for Leicester City in a pounds 250,000 deal while a former Foxes forward, Jimmy Quinn, went from Bournemouth to Reading for pounds 55,000.

Money matters, page 31