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By ESPN Staff

FIFA assails World Cup players for faking injuries

ZURICH, Switzerland -- FIFA criticized players at the World Cup for the "deplorable habit" of faking injuries, disruptions that the governing body said marred last summer's tournament.

In its official report on the 2006 World Cup, FIFA also praised German organizers for a staging a trouble-free event, which Italy won by beating France on a penalty-kick shootout in the final.

However, Zinedine Zidane's ejection for head-butting Italy defender Marco Materazzi was just a footnote, even though it was perhaps the most memorable moment of the entire tournament.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, in a foreword to the report, described the organization of the World Cup as "faultless" and the fan behavior "a complete success." FIFA, however, clearly was displeased by the trend of players falling to field as if injured.

"At this World Cup, the deplorable habit that involves players staying down for no apparent reason after minor collisions, thus causing frequent breaks in play, was increasingly in evidence," said the report of the FIFA Technical Committee.

"The ensuing attacks by the team in possession were accompanied by wildly gesticulating coaches and assistants on the touchline, protests from the defending team, who often simply stayed where they were, and a reaction from the crowd until such time as the referee stopped the game."

When players go down injured, the team in possession traditionally puts the ball out of play. From the restart, the ball is then passed back to the team which deliberately put the ball out.

Now, FIFA warns that coaches and players are unfairly taking advantage.

"In some cases, the player lying on the ground was treated for quite a while before being led off the pitch and was often ready to come back on before the game had been restarted," the World Cup report said. "When play eventually continued, the ball was played back to the team who had been in possession ... but in a place that put them at a clear disadvantage."

The report said the interruptions destroyed the flow of the game.

"What unquestionably began as a gesture of fair play is developing into a method of disrupting the other team's play," it said. "It is time to put a stop to this abuse of fair play."