Podolski profits from censure of Ronaldo's unfair antics

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The Independent Online

Cristiano Ronaldo has been deprived of the award for young player of the World Cup despite winning an internet poll of supporters.

The Manchester United winger won the fans'vote easily but Fifa's technical study group chose the Germany striker Lukas Podolski in preference to the Portugal forward.

Ronaldo was criticised for his behaviour surrounding Wayne Rooney's dismissal in the quarter-final against England, when he winked at his bench after Rooney's exit. He was then roundly booed during the semi-final against France, his display including a blatant dive in the penalty area.

Lothar Matthäus, the former Germany international who is the patron of the Gillette-sponsored award, and Fifa's technical chief, Holger Osieck, said that a lack of fair play had been an issue.

Matthäus told a news conference in Berlin: "You will never have 100 per cent fair play and, looking at Cristiano Ronaldo, he was obviously doing something. He may have accumulated a couple of minus points due to his gesture with Rooney, but you sometimes forget what the laws are in the heat of the fight. Give the young players a break, give him a chance. Diego Maradona scored a goal with the 'hand of God'. That was not fair play and there are many other examples."

Asked if Ronaldo's behaviour had harmed his chances of winning the award, Osieck conceded that fair play was considered. He said: "We want to have decent behaviour and I admit we were critical of this. We had a number of criteria, but we have to admit players of that age have their weaknesses.

"Players should be role models and fair play is a consideration. But young players are not always mature tactically and they also have difficulties in handling stressful situations."

Podolski was named the winner of the award after scoring three goals, one against Ecuador and two against Sweden, and for a number of good performances, including scoring a penalty against Argentina in the quarter-final.

Ecuador's Luis Valencia, Argentina's Lionel Messi, Spain's Cesc Fabregas and Tranquillo Barnetta from Switzerland were the other finalists.

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