With dangerous tackling under control, soccer officials are turning their attention to two emerging defensive tactics that don't do as much damagebut still break the rules.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Tuesday he was upset over repeated cases where defenders used wrestling-like strong-arms or simply pulled the jersey of opponents to get them out of the way."We must tell the players, `Thank you for not tackling from behind. But don't use the situation to become wrestlers and textile testers,' " he said.
It's rare when an attacker tries to dribble into the penalty area at the World Cup without a defender putting an elbow under his chin or a forearm against his chest. And one of the tournament's most-debated fouls came when Junior Baiano of Brazil was caught with a grip on the back of Tore Andre Flo's Norwegian shirt, leading to the winning penalty kick.
Blatter said referees will be instructed to crack down, and more of those fouls will be called.
He praised the referees for being "logical and at their best" in a World Cup loaded with key fouls and ejections, but he had harsh words for FIFA's own disciplinary committee.
He said the panel, which hands out player suspensions, ignored his suggestion that it use video replays to assess damage on hard fouls by Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp against a Yugoslav defender and by a Moroccan player against Brazilian superstar Ronaldo.
No foul was called and no suspension handed out by the disciplinary panel, even though Blatter said he thought such action was justified.
"Sure, I saw it," he said when asked if there was video proof of a suspension-level foul by Bergkamp against Sinisa Mihajlovic in a first-round game.
Video replays showed Bergkamp stomping on Mihajlovic as he lay on the ground. A similar foul drew a two-game suspension for France's Zinedine Zidane.
Blatter said he also saw video tapes of a blatant foul by Said Chiba of Morocco, who planted his cleats in the left thigh of Ronaldo and left deep scratches.
"In two cases, the FIFA president has drawn the presence of video evidence to their attention," Blatter said. "They said, `No, it's not needed.' That's OK. When you have a clean separation of the different powers in a body, that's their prerogative."