BERLIN, July 4 (Reuters) FIFA President Sepp Blatter said today he regretted criticising Russian referee Valentin Ivanov for his handling of the heated second-round World Cup match between Portugal and the Netherlands.
''I would just like to say that I regret what has happened,'' Blatter told reporters at FIFA's daily news briefing.
''I regret what I said about his actions in the match between Portugal and the Netherlands.'' Ivanov set a World Cup finals record on June 25 in Nuremberg by sending off four players and handing out eight additional yellow cards. Both the Portuguese and the Dutch finished the match, which Portugal won 1-0, with nine men.
Blatter was quoted on Portuguese television after the clash saying that Ivanov should have yellow-carded himself for his poor refereeing performance.
''I consider that today the referee was not at the same level as the participants, the players. There could have been a yellow card for the referee,'' Blatter said at the time.
Ivanov was also criticised by Dutch coach Marco van Basten and several players for being over zealous in handing out cards.
Three days after the game, Ivanov was dropped for the remainder of the tournament by FIFA's Referees Committee.
The 45-year old music-loving teacher has said the match was the most difficult of his professional career.