FIFA clears Kewell to play next match

Harry Kewell will not be suspended over his outburst at a referee after Australia's loss to Brazil, clearing him for Thursday's match against Croatia.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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Harry Kewell will not be suspended over his outburst at a referee after Australia's World Cup loss to Brazil, clearing the Liverpool winger for Thursday's crucial match against Croatia. The decision by FIFA's disciplinary committee came after German referee Markus Merk complained that Kewell had insulted him during a finger-wagging episode lasting several minutes on Sunday. "The FIFA disciplinary committee decided to close the investigation because of inconsistent reports by the referee," FIFA communications director Markus Siegler said on Tuesday. Australia, at the World Cup for the first time in 32 years, needs at least a draw against Croatia in Stuttgart to advance to the second round. Immediately after Brazil loss, Kewell said his exchange with Merk was "just the heat of the moment stuff." Merk called 25 fouls against Australia and only nine for defending champion Brazil. Football Federation Australia, which had asked its lawyer to review video of the incident, welcomed FIFA's decision. "The FFA and Harry Kewell are very appreciative of FIFA's careful consideration of our submission and are pleased that no action will be taken in relation to this incident," FFA chief executive John O'Neill said in a statement. "As Harry said himself, the incident arose in the heat of the moment and was regretted by him. Harry has emphasised the respect he has for referees and the need for players to show this respect. "We are now fully concentrating on the match ahead," O'Neill said. (AP)