World Cup: Finals referee says German midfielder was disoriented after blow to head
Rome • Germany midfielder Christoph Kramer was disoriented and confused after taking a heavy blow to the head early in the World Cup final, according to the match's referee.
"Shortly after the blow, Kramer came to me asking 'Ref, is this the final?' " Nicola Rizzoli told the Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday. "I thought he was joking and made him repeat the question and then he said, 'I need to know if this is really the final.' When I said, 'Yes,' he concluded, 'Thanks, it was important to know that.'"
Rizzoli said he let midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger know about the exchange during Sunday's game but Kramer continued playing for 14 minutes after the collision with Argentina defender Ezequiel Garay.
He was eventually replaced in the 31st after slumping to the ground with a suspected concussion. Germany went on to beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time to lift the trophy.
Kramer's continuation in the game after suffering an apparent concussion revived concerns about the way football deals with the issue, as there were worrying head injuries for several other players earlier in the tournament.
Ukrainian, Russian clubs kept apart
UEFA has decided to keep Ukrainian and Russian clubs from playing each other "until further notice" because of the continuing unrest between the neighboring countries.
European football's governing body made the ruling "in light of the current political situation" after the Russian and Ukrainian associations "expressed concerns about safety and security."
The UEFA emergency panel ruling means Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg and Ukrainian club Dnipro cannot be paired against each other in the Champions League third qualifying round draw on July 18.
Germany takes No. 1 ranking; U.S. is No. 15
Germany climbed to No. 1 in the FIFA rankings Thursday after winning the World Cup, and the United States fell two places to 15th despite reaching the round of 16. The Americans, who lost to Belgium in their first knockout game, were overtaken in the rankings by the Dutch, Chile and France.