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Stolen hotel items found

TBO.com The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 06:32 AM

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As if getting undressed by Germany in a 4-1 defeat that was their worst in a World Cup wasn't bad enough, the English players have had clothing and other articles stolen from their hotel rooms.

Cleaning staff at the luxury hotel where England stayed in Rustenburg, South Africa, stole uniform shirts, a medal and even underwear from players, police said Monday.

Police spokeswoman Junior Metsi said very little cash was taken - about $750. The thieves instead seemed interested in souvenirs, such as a United States uniform shirt an England player received in the customary postmatch trade. A medal awarded by FIFA and underwear also disappeared in a spree police say began June 21.

The thefts were not reported to police until Saturday. Metsi said police solved the case within a day, searching the homes of hotel staff.

"Everything that was stolen was recovered and they (the thieves) are now behind bars," she said.

On Sunday, a special World Cup court convicted five hotel workers in the thefts. They were sentenced to three years in prison and fined about $800.

Metsi would not identify the players from whom items were stolen.

England's World Cup headquarters was a state-of-the-art sports complex and hotel built by the Bafokeng tribe of northern South Africa and completed shortly before the tournament began. The Bafokeng also own the Rustenburg stadium where World Cup games were played.

Officiating changes?

The head of the U.S. Soccer Federation is willing to have Major League Soccer experiment with changes that would reduce errors by on-field officials.

"We'd be happy to do some trial cases, not rules of the game or something like that, but with an additional referee or technology," USSF president Sunil Gulati said Monday.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter opposes the use of technology, saying soccer needs to retain a human element.

Gulati said a FIFA executive committee member gave his own personal views about using technology.

"He was outlining a system that he had in his own mind thought of which was very similar to the NFL system, with the obvious difference of continuous action. But a challenge system, if the challenge is upheld, then you retain," Gulati said. "I don't think there's any doubt that FIFA will look at what's happened here, whether it's additional referees or some limited form of goal-line technology which they've looked at. They'll look at some things."

Deco back?

Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz hints that midfielder Deco will be available for his team's World Cup second-round match against Spain today.

Queiroz said Monday "we have 11 first-class players at our disposal" before mentioning midfielders Deco and Sabrosa Simao specifically.

Deco played in the Group G opener against Ivory Coast, then missed Portugal's matches against North Korea and Brazil because of a right hip injury.

"Two players should be available," Queiroz said from Cape Town's Green Point Stadium. "(Our team) should be based on group stage, but also bearing in mind our opponents."

Forward Danny limped heavily during Monday's training session.

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