Russian boss Fabio Capello plays laser card

Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was momentarily blinded by the pen device in the build-up to Algeria’s goal

The next hosts of the World Cup, Russia, crashed out of the tournament amid controversy last night with their coach, Fabio Capello, blaming a laser beam for their elimination at the hands of unfancied Algeria.

Russia were knocked out of Group H after a 1-1 draw and the Italian complained that in the buildup to the vital goal, scored by Islam Slimani on 60 minutes, the goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev had been blinded by a laser pen directed at him by someone in the crowd.

Television pictures and still photographs showed a green light trained on the goalkeeper’s face and he was protesting furiously as Abdelmoumene Djabou’s free-kick was lofted into the area. He lost the flight of the ball and Slimani climbed highest to head Algeria’s equaliser. Capello insisted: “He was blinded by the laser beam.”

Capello said: “There are pictures. You can see that in the footage. This not an excuse, it is a fact. There was a laser. I have never come up with excuses to get by in my entire life.”


Asked if his complaints deflected attention from the performance of Algeria, who qualified for the knockout stages as runners-up to Belgium, Capello responded: "Never, never. I would never do that.

“You have to listen to when I speak so that I don’t have to repeat the same things: I said very clearly that I have great respect for Algerian team. I just said that very clearly!

“The only thing is that we had a chance to score another goal and instead we conceded a goal, as I think you saw.”

Russia's elimination means that Capello, who won nine league titles in 16 seasons with Milan, Real Madrid and Juventus, has now taken charge of seven World Cup games and won only one – when England beat Slovenia 1-0 four years ago.

Much had been made of the fact that he was building a team for the 2018 World Cup, when Russia will be hosts, but only two members of his starting XI were under 27 and he insisted that he was thinking only about qualification here, not about the future.

When he was asked if he would continue as Russia manager, he replied: “If they want me.” But his response was sharper when an English journalist questioned his record at the World Cup and asked if he thought he was equipped to lead Russia into 2018.

“We’ll have to ask the management that,” he said, before adding: “As for England, we did actually reach the knockout round and, by the way, let me make this clear: it was thanks to us that they introduced goalline technology [after Frank Lampard’s “goal” was ruled not to have crossed the line against Germany].

“I qualified your team to participate in the Euros and the World Cup and the figures I got were pretty respectable.”

“And now after 12 years [of not qualifying], under my leadership this [RUSSIA]team made it to the World Cup, OK? I did a pretty good job there I think but if you were to say that we have not done a good job here then I agree with you.”

Algeria's coach, Vahid Halilhodzic, said he was unaware of any lasers. "It is the first I have heard of it; I have not seen the TV pictures, so I have nothing to say," he said.

“It something that [PEOPLE]can discuss in restaurants and bars. Now, let’s talk about the game. I am very proud but we can play better. Why not against Germany?”

Guardian service