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Page last updated at 20:09 GMT, Thursday, 7 October 2010 21:09 UK

Fifa official concerned by football 'brutality'

By Tim Franks
BBC sports news correspondent

Fifa's Dr Michel d'Hooghe
D'Hooghe wants players to be punished retrospectively for bad tackles

Fifa's top medical official has said that football at the highest level is being disfigured by "criminality" and "brutality" on the pitch.

Dr Michel d'Hooghe told BBC Sport he is concerned by the number of serious injuries caused by dangerous tackles.

"Some players come on the field... simply to provoke injuries in other persons - to break a career," he said.

The Belgian added: "I have two eyes, where I can see what happens - how some acts are really criminal."

D'Hooghe is the chairman of Fifa's medical committee and one of the longest-serving members of the executive committee of football's world governing body.

He was speaking out following a recent series of serious injuries sustained by players after reckless challenges - but he made it clear he was not referring to any player specifically.

Theo van Seggelen, the general secretary of global players' union FIFPro, has defended his members.

"I don't believe there is a player in the world - and we have 50,000 members - who would deliberately try to injure someone else," said Van Seggelen. "That would not be acceptable."

D'Hooghe also said that if referees fail to spot bad tackles, then football authorities must be able to punish players retrospectively.

Newcastle United have expressed frustration that the Football Association, under current Fifa rules, cannot discipline Manchester City's Nigel de Jong, because match referee Martin Atkinson did not award a free-kick for his recent tackle on Hatem Ben Arfa.

The challenge resulted in the Frenchman sustaining a broken leg.

D'Hooghe said if there is clear video evidence, an FA should still act, adding: "It's not because it's not been seen on the field that suddenly nothing happened."

Fifa has proved itself enormously resistant to the use of video technology to aid referees, but D'Hooghe insisted this could be less controversial than goal-line aids.

He says he intends to raise the issue at Fifa's next executive committee meeting in three weeks.

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see also
Ben Arfa has surgery on leg break
04 Oct 10 |  Newcastle
De Jong dropped from Dutch squad
04 Oct 10 |  Football
Man City 2-1 Newcastle
03 Oct 10 |  Premier League
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03 Oct 10 |  Football

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