Football: Nightclubber Berg plays on

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The Independent Online
HENNING BERG and Erik Mykland will be available for Norway's match against Scotland tomorrow - despite revelations they were in a nightclub until the early hours of Saturday.

The Norwegian coach, Egil Olsen, made it clear on yesterday that any repeat would see the players sent home. He had given his squad a night off - but Berg and Mykland did not return to the team hotel until 4am. They were summoned to explain their actions on Saturday afternoon.

"I've talked to them and they regret what they did," Olsen said. "We had a meeting and the matter is now closed." Berg, the Manchester United defender, and Mykland, of the Greek club Panathinaikos, have insisted they did not drink any alcohol during their night out.

France's coach, Aime Jacquet, yesterday criticised referees at the World Cup finals.

"I expected the refereeing to be more in line with what had been announced," Jacquet said, referring to the crackdown on violent tackling ordered by Fifa. "I think they are not severe enough. Something must be done to stop all those attacks on strikers which destroy the spirit of the game."

Patrick Kluivert yesterday mounted an impassioned defence of his actions in Saturday's goalless draw with Belgium as he reflected on the sending- off which has earned him a two-match ban.

The Dutch striker, who has had a colourful career on and off the pitch, claimed that he was provoked by Lorenzo Staelens into elbowing the Belgian defender - the offence for which he was shown the red card 10 minutes from full time.

Kluivert had expected only a one-match suspension, but Fifa's disciplinary commission yesterday decided the matter was serious enough to warrant two games on the sidelines - despite television evidence revealing that contact between the two players was minimal. The 21-year-old will miss the Netherlands' remaining group matches against South Korea and Mexico, which could mean the end of his tournament.

"Staelens shouted out something that had to do with my private life in the past. Take it from me, it was below the belt," Kluivert said. "It does not take away the fact that I should have kept my temper under control. Through my own fault I put the team at a disadvantage."