FIFA says Frings decision should have come sooner
BERLIN, July 4: FIFA's decision to ban Germany's Torsten Frings for today's semi-final clash against Italy should have come sooner, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said.
''The decision should come more than a day before the match,'' Blatter told reporters on Tuesday. ''FIFA has learned something from this experience.
''We accept responsibility that it took so long. But the decision is final and clear.'' World soccer's governing body ruled on Monday that Frings could not play in the semi-final after reviewing video footage that showed the midfielder grazing Argentina forward Julio Ricardo Cruz with his fist during a fracas that followed Germany's penalty shootout win in the quarter-finals.
FIFA had initially said it was taking no action against any Germany players but changed course on Sunday after the video footage was played on Italian and German television and opened a probe into Frings's role in the incident.
Although Frings may not be irreplaceable, he has superbly anchored the German midfield and had a key role on Friday in containing Argentina playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme.
Frings had said he was innocent and Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Cruz saying he had not received or felt any punch. But FIFA's disciplinary committee ruled yesterday that his actions were ''tantamount to an assault''.