World Cup refs selected

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ZURICH --- FIFA has included Martin Hansson among 30 referees selected for the World Cup despite the Swede missing Thierry Henry's hand ball during France's decisive qualifier against Ireland in November.

Fredrik Nilsson, one of Hansson's assistants from the all-Swedish crew that officiated the France-Ireland playoff, was omitted and replaced by Henrik Andren.

The other assistant, Stefan Wittberg, will join Hansson at the World Cup.

Among those selected Saturday were Switzerland's Massimo Busacca, voted best referee in 2009 by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics panel, and England's Howard Webb.

No American officials were picked for the tournament, which is scheduled for June 11-July 11 in South Africa.

Jair Marrufo, of the United States, had been on the provisional list of 38 referees announced in October 2008.

Also dropped from the provisional list was Norway's Tom Henning Ovrebo, accused by Chelsea players and fans of making bad calls and missing penalties in the second leg of last season's European Champions League semifinal, which saw Barcelona advance.

The four referees from North and Central America and the Caribbean are Benito Archundia and Marco Rodriguez, of Mexico; Carlos Batres, of Guatemala; and Joel Aguilar of El Salvador.

Each referee will be accompanied by two linesmen after FIFA rejected the idea of additional officials at the tournament.

FIFA's picks include 10 referees from Europe, six from South America, four each from Asia and Africa, and two from Oceania.

COACH FIRED: Nigeria has fired Shaibu Amodu following a disappointing African Cup of Nations, leaving the team without a head coach just months before the World Cup.

The Nigerian Football Federation said its short list of replacements includes Ratomir Dujkovic, Guus Hiddink, Bruno Metsu, Hassan Shehata, Peter Taylor and Louis van Gaal.

The candidates will be interviewed by the end of the month.

The Super Eagles lost to Ghana in the semifinals of the African Cup, then beat Algeria in the third-place match. Nigeria is in a World Cup group with Argentina, Greece and South Korea.


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