Message from the Editor
From now on, the numbering of the FIFA News will be addapted for technical reasons. This edition has been numbered 8-9 but is, in fact, a single issue. As a result of this change, the News will in future bear the number of the following month.

Editorial deadline for this issue: 9 August, 1996
Editors: Keith Cooper, Andreas Herren


Joseph S. Blatter, General Secretary, FIFA The Centennial Games in Atlanta are already a thing of the past but they have enriched the chronicles of our sport with many new, exciting pages. Apart from the fact that the standards of football were in any case of the highest order, Atlanta '96 will be recorded in the annals of Olympic football mainly for the first Olympic Women's Football Tournament ever held, with the USA in the rôle of the Golden Girls, and for Nigeria as the first ever Olympic champions from the continent of Africa. The world press moaned and groaned at the way the Olympic metropolis puffed and panted in an effort to come to grips with the mega happening, But conditions for the Olympic Football Tournaments, staged in the “provinces” in Miami, Orlando, Birmingham, Washington DC and Athens, were good. For once, being tucked away from the hub(bub) was not such a bad experience.

The organisation of an event of Olympic Game proportions relies more and more on technology as time goes by. But when the most modern technical equipment does not appear to meet requirements, the human element acquires an added dimension and – as these Games demonstrated – becomes more indispensable than ever. Some time before the eagle eye of the referee and his assistant rightly judged the decisive goal in the final of the men’s football tournament as not offside, an incident in the track and field event gave a convincing example of this point of view. In the 100-metre men’s final – one of the highlights of every Olympic Games – the title holder, Linford Christie, was disqualified after making two false starts. Electronically registered fractions of a second had ruled negatively against Christie, who was clearly at odds with the deci-sion. Even the crowds bawled out their disapproval at the way an impersonal contraption could reject him, although such machines guarantee absolute accuracy in a race where a fraction of a second decides between winner and loser.

People dissatisfied with the human element in sport have long been demanding electronic equipment to pass final judgment in controversial situations. Imagine if an electronic eye was to decide whether or not the ball had crossed the goal line by one or two millimetres. Is that really the solution for football, in which imperfection is somehow part of its appeal, when minute differences cannot be accepted in a sport which relies one hundred per cent on high-precision instruments? Sport thrives on this human element – in track and field as well as football, at the Olympics and elsewhere.

Joseph S. Blatter
FIFA General Secretary

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Atlanta 1996 Well deserving and jubilant winners at the Olympic Football Tournaments: the performances shown by Nigeria amongst the men and the USA amongst the women were the culmination of two competitions which counted as highlights of this year’s Summer Olympics. Some 1.4 million spectators – an average of 40,000 per game – flocked to the stadia to be rewarded with a display of gilt-edged football.

Africa is surely and steadily scaling the heights of world football. It has long been an open secret that youth competitions are dominated by footballers from anywhere between Cairo and Cape Town and now they have supplied proof of their prowess in the under-23 category as well. The fact that Nigeria became the first African country to capture gold in Olympic football is by no means a coincidence. The squad, largely comprising footballers playing all over Europe, abounded with such sonorous names as Kanu or Okocha. The selectors also managed to merge two seasoned players effortlessly into the team in the persons of Amunike and Amokachi. As in the semifinal against Brazil, the Nigerians also put their doughty morale to the test in the final against Argentina – the other South Americans searching for gold. The setbacks they encountered en route did not break their spirit but, on the contrary, released all their creative and playing power for all to enjoy.

Rejection of Dull Defence Tactics
The determination to attack and performances on the offensive were the marks of most of the teams, particularly in the knockout rounds of each tournament.

Fair Play Awards to the USA and Argentina
The USA for the women and Argentina for the men were the winners of the Fair Play competition held by FIFA at the Olympic Football Tournaments. The creteria for this competition cover not only yellow and red cards but also the general conduct of the teams, their attacking spirit and respect for the opponents and officials. Because Olympic protocol did not permit the awards to be presented at the end of the tournaments, FIFA now plans to award them at the FIFA World Player of the Year gala in Lisbon in January 1997.
On the whole, in the first part of the tournament those squads who had netted the first goal went on to win, having grabbed an advantage and leaving their opponents to run around the field after them. In the last few group matches and in the knockout rounds, some of the trailing teams often managed to struggle back into the game with a touch of luck and a lot of dash. As a matter of interest, none of the matches in the quarter finals, semifinals and finals were decided by penalty kicks but, in three cases (France v. Portugal, Nigeria v. Brazil amongst the men and Norway v. USA amongst the women), by a golden goal in extra time. This fact and the other scores – some replete with goals – was evidence that the players had actively sought a decisive result. Seen from this angle, these tournaments could be regarded as a rejection of dull defensive tactics and of defence at any price.

Ladies First
The urge to bombard the opponents’ goal was high on the list of the ladies’ repertoire from the word go. It was they who always took the first bow at the double headers. Although at a disadvantage on account of the heat and humidity in matches timed earlier in the day, there was no trace of weakness amongst the women. Chinese turf chess, Norwegian power boots, American overdrive and Brazilian ball artistry – the tournament for the eight women’s teams demonstrated that their trajectory is upwards and onwards, not least because other countries such as Brazil have since joined the football establishment.

USA Women's Olympic Team The USA won the first women's football tourament in the history of the Olympic Grames.
Pictures: Brett Whitesell

The victory of the US women, who had put all their money on the Olympic ticket after their bitter defeat by Norway in the Women’s World Cup semifinal in Sweden a year ago, is more than merited. Inspired by utter determination to win and cheered on in the final by some 80,000 fans, the home team lived up to their role as favourites even under pounding pressure. China PR and, before them, Norway had challenged them to the limits of their abilities, at the same time doing their part to justify women’s football as an Olympic medal discipline.

The Olympic competitions proved to be exceptional thanks to teams which turned the football hierarchy upside down. Japan amongst the men and Brazil amongst the women must rate as the discoveries of the tournaments. The extent to which a professional league can influence the football of a whole country was convincingly illustrated by the Japanese. So far, they have made only rare appearances on the international stage but coach Akira Nishino’s élite eleven came up with what must be the biggest ambush of the favourites since Zambia clobbered Italy 4-0 in Seoul in 1988. With a little bit of luck mixed with a large helping of skill, the fledglings who have been spreading their wings in the J.League in Japan, beat gold medal diggers Brazil 1-0. The ball magicians from South America, fresh from their victory over FIFA’s World Stars the week before, then turned the tide running against them under their own steam. A 3-1 win against Hungary restored shattered confidence and victory over the formidable Nigerians opened the gate to the quarter finals. It may well have been this halfway win that mistakenly led the Brazilians to think they were in for a walkover against the same opponents in the semifinal. Even their 5-0 triumph over the last remaining representatives from Europe, Portugal, in the play-off for third place, did not compensate the current world champions’ disappointment.

Nigeria Men's Olympic Team Nigeria, the first ever Olympic football winners from Africa.

In spite of a scintillating start, Japan, for their part, were victims of their own nerves. Their bad luck in finishing off and an unnecessary 0-2 defeat to Nigeria cost them dearly in the group round classifications. In spite of a 3-2 win against Hungary, with two goals netted in the closing minute of the game, it was not enough for a ticket to the quarter finals.

Europe had to take its hat off to the powerhouses from South America, Africa and Asia. Only Portugal turned up among the last four after Spain and France had bowed out in the quarter finals and Hungary had waved goodbye in the group games without a win. One of the potentates of European football, Italy, suffered a sad departure. Having set the scene by losing 0-1 to Mexico, the “azzurri” followed it up with a 2-3 flop to Ghana. In spite of a consolation victory over Korea Republic, coach Cesare Maldini , somewhat surprisingly, was left to fade out with his young Italian starlets.

Flexibility with Age Limits
Compared to Barcelona in 1992, which had been a purely under-23 tournament, FIFA had come to terms with the IOC over relaxing the age limits for Atlanta and allowed three troupers over the age of 23 to each team. Not every association made use of this opportunity. France and Japan, who are busy preening their nestlings for the lions’ den in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, chose not to field any old hands (Dieng, who is over 23, was flown in later by France as an “alternate”) . The same was true of Hungary as well as of the Spaniards, whose coach, Javier Clemente, allowed the future generation of talent such as Raul or Ovan de la Peña to tread the boards.

One major talking point was the intensive timetable which afforded the teams very little rest between games. FIFA tried to make the most of the circumstances by rearranging the semifinals a few months ago so as to reduce the travel involved. By forming pools of players (called “alternates”) ready to jump into the breach if any listed player became injured, the world governing body provided the delegations with other options. What was left was the roasting American sun that stretched the footballers to fainting point. The coaches were thus faced with the dilemma of when to take their key players off or of whether they could afford the luxury of placing their best performers on the substitutes’ bench.

Gigantic Crowds
It has always been the custom at the Olympic Games to stage football matches in different venues. Even though none of the Olympic football matches was held in Atlanta itself, the many sparkling performances by the twenty-four selections made sure that that football was not banished to backstage at the Centennial Games. Eighty-four thousand fans in Legion Field in Birmingham looked on as the USA hosts went into the lead in the first minute of play in the opening game against Argentina, only to be defeated 3-1 in the closing minute after a thrilling exchange of attacks. For their showdown against Portugal, the US boys drew 58,000 spectators into the RFK Stadium in Washington, breaking a stadium record. All in all, 1,364,250 fans flocked to the stadia, 86,117 of whom rallied together for the men’s final.

The crowd of 76,489 that gathered to watch the women’s final between the USA and PR China is a world record in the history of women’s sport.

Match telegrams and full accounts of the games may be accessed via FIFA ON-LINE ( An illustrated report on the 1996 Olympic Football Tournaments will appear in the October edition of the FIFA Magazine.

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At a meeting held in Atlanta on 1 August, the Bureau of the Players’ Status Committee was required to deal with a total of 19 disputes arising from transfers. Non-licensed agents were responsible for two of the disputes whereas, in the others, licensed agents and the players they advise had breached FIFA’s regulations. For the first time since the implementation of the regulations governing players’ agents FIFA has now punished such violations and pronounced suitable sanctions.

Other cases:

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Mohammed Bin Hammam (Qatar) and Senes Erzik (Turkey) now replace Dr Henry Fok (Hong Kong) and Poul Hyldgaard (Denmark) on the executive body of FIFA. As for the new vacancies created on the executive by the Congress, the confederations will decide over the next few months who will fill them.

License Holder No. of Footballs/Category Tested
Adidas / Germany 6 5
Albani Sport / Switzerland 1
Cambuci (Penalty) / Brazil 1 1
Capital Sports / Pakistan 2 2
Erima / Germany 2 3
Football Thai Factory / Thailand 1 2
Howard S.A. / Argentina 1
MC Sport / Belgium 3
Mikasa / Japan 24 1
Mitre / UK 2
Molten / Japan 9 2
Pro Touch (Intersport) / Switzerland 2 3
Puma / Germany 3 2
Ram Sportswear / Australia 1 3
Rucanor / Holland 4 2
Seijo Trading / Japan 3 2
Select / Denmark 3
Synsheen / Korea Republic 2
Tachikara / Japan 1 1
Tianjin Leesheng / China 1
Tramondi Sports / Switzerland 1
Umbro / UK 2 1
Valle Sport / Italy 2
Total 67 40

Designation: International Matchball Standard
(technically equal to FIFA Inspected)

Company and number of footballs complying with International Matchball Standard
Con-Sport / Germany 1
DerbyStar / Germany 2
Mitre / UK 4
Nike / USA 6
Umbro UK / UK 4
Total 17

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The first FIFA/Confederations Cup for the King Fahd Trophy will be held from Friday, 12 December until Sunday, 21 December 1997 in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). This decision was reached by the FIFA Organising Committee for the new competition, which will involve eight teams, at a meeting in Zurich on 2 July.

The new European champions, Germany, have already confirmed their participation in the tournament. Other participants are:

The table will be divided into two groups of four teams at a draw to be held in Saudi Arabia in 1997. The two teams coming top in each group will advance to the semifinals. Please see the full match timetable below.

The Saudi Arabian Organising Committee presented a report at the meeting in Zurich, confirming that all the requirements for the competition would be met. Saudi Arabia has already staged what used to be called the Intercontinental Cup on two occasions – in 1992 and in 1995.

It has now been renamed the FIFA/Confederations Cup and its organisation will henceforth be supervised by FIFA.

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As reported in the 6-7/96 edition of the News, Senes Erzik (Turkey) and Mohammad Bin Hammam (Qatar) have been elected to the FIFA Executive instead of Poul Hyldgaard (Denmark) and Dr Henry Fok (Hong Kong). The confederations have yet to decide how to fill the additional places on the Executive Committee provided for at the Congress.

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Inadequately installed portable goals have been the cause of more than 20 fatal accidents among youths in recent years. Because the decision passed by the International F.A. Board in 1994 has not yet been properly implemented, the Committee for Security Matters and Fair Play again discussed the tragic problem and issued a mandatory instruction to the associations via the Executive Committee meeting on 31 May:

For safety reasons, goals (including those which are portable and not permanently installed on a playing pitch or practice field) must always be securely anchored to the ground. Portable goals must be made of lightweight material. Particular attention is drawn to the fact that if not properly constructed, portable goals may tip over and cause injury or even death. Portable goals should not be left in place after use, but should be dismantled, removed and tied up or secured to a permanent structure such as a fence.

Law I will be amended again in 1997 to take account of the foregoing text. In circular letter no. 593 dated 10 July, associations were directed to notify every club and league of the contents of this instruction and to draw their attention to the likelihood of liability, depending on circumstances, in the event of incidents arising from goals for which they are responsible as owners or managers. Clubs are therefore strongly urged to take out liability insurance cover for such eventualities.

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Bebeto of Brazil

The charity match between the FIFA World Stars and world champions Brazil in New York on 14 July was watched by millions of televiewers in 122 countries. The stars from Brazil and other parts of the world gave a gala performance which not only threw the spotlight on football but also on the charity organisation, SOS Children’s Villages, which FIFA supported with revenue from this match. A full report on the game will appear in the August edition of the FIFA Magazine.

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The charity match between the FIFA World Stars and world champions Brazil in New York on 14 July was watched by millions of televiewers in 122 countries. The stars from Brazil and other parts of the world gave a gala performance which not only threw the spotlight on football but also on the charity organisation, SOS Children’s Villages, which FIFA supported with revenue from this match. A full report on the game will appear in the August edition of the FIFA Magazine.

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