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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 23, 2006

German referee Merk to make return

BERLIN, Aug 23 (Reuters) - German referee Markus Merk has decided to return to work after mulling retirement in the wake of a disappointing World Cup.

Merk, who made several controversial calls in group stage games, in July told the head of officiating of the German football association (DFB) Volker Roth that he needed a break.

Merk, 44, missed the start of the Bundesliga season and it was unclear whether he would return.

'I recently got a standing ovation from my colleagues one evening at a seminar and I knew then that the captain should continue,' Merk told Bild newspaper on Wednesday. 'Now I'll call Volker Roth and tell him my decision.'

Roth said in July that Merk was upset he was not nominated for any matches in the round of 16 or quarter-finals and that he hoped Merk would decide to continue after his break.

Merk is considered Germany's top referee but was at the centre of several disputed decisions during the World Cup.

Merk twice left the pitch to the sound of jeers. In a match between Ghana and the U.S., Merk harshly adjudged American defender Oguchi Onyewu had fouled Ghana's Razak Pimpong as he headed clear in first-half stoppage time.

Stephen Appiah drilled home the resultant penalty that gave Ghana a 2-1 lead, which was also the final score.

Five days earlier Merk annoyed many Australian fans for giving Brazil too much protection. Merk awarded 25 fouls against the Australians and just nine against Brazil.