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Wed 27 Feb 2008 07:09 AM

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Fouls 'endangering' Kaka career

AC Milan have complained that playmaker Kaka's career is in danger because of repeated fouls

AC Milan have complained that Brazilian playmaker Kaka's career is in danger as he is being targeted by opposing teams for what appears to be a strategy to foul him.

The reigning European and World Footballer of the Year had to leave the pitch at half-time on Sunday against Palermo with an injury to his left knee and will miss Wednesday's Italian league match against Catania.

The top Italian club added what struck them most was not that Kaka was being continually fouled but that there seemed to be a systematic plan by the teams to do so.

A club statement on their internet site said: "It's never the same player which makes two consecutive fouls on Ricky (Kaka's nickname). Players take turns as if there is a plan, as if it is part of their strategy. Evidently the referees have not noticed this."

On Monday, Kaka told a television station: "I don't like to talk to referees but they need to do something because I'm being fouled a lot at the moment."

The club statement continued: "The treatment which is being handed out to Kaka is the same as which ended the career of Marco van Basten (part of the dominant AC Milan side in the late 80's and early 90's).

"The great Dutch player played his last match at the top level as a 28-year-old in November 1992. It all just came to an end for van Basten but the same thing must not happen to Kaka."

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti - who played in the same Milan side as van Basten - was more measured in his comments at a later press conference.

"Kaka is one of those players who is tightly marked but I don't think there is intent on the part of the players to hurt him," he said.

"As far as referees are concerned, things can always get better but compared to the past, I think more attention is now paid to brutal tackles."

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