FIFA have revealed that more than half of the players treated on the pitch during this summer's World Cup were not actually injured.

The world body's chief medical officer, Professor Jiri Dvorak, presented his findings to the FIFA referees committee today and they showed a cheating culture at the highest level of the game.

According to Professor Dvorak, there were too many players feigning injury in Germany, with tactical reasons presented as the most likely cause of their action.

Where injuries were confirmed, the number per match was down to 2.3 per match, from 2.7 at the 2002 World Cup.

That amounted to a total of 145 injuries in 64 matches at the 2006 tournament, among them the cruciate knee injury which may mean Newcastle and England striker Michael Owen does not play again until next season.

'Fifty-eight per cent of the players who were treated on the pitch during the 2006 World Cup eventually turned out not to be injured,' confirmed FIFA in a statement.

Referees were praised for keeping the number of injuries down, by protecting players and ensuring elbowing offences were properly punished.

The meeting was chaired by Spanish FA chief Angel Marma Villar Llona, a vice-president of the FIFA executive committee.

He said: 'The referees and assistant referees fulfilled the high expectations placed on them and complied with the instructions to protect players and thus the game better. The preparation period of almost four years for the World Cup in Germany paid off.'

FIFA president Sepp Blatter added: 'I am very satisfied with the referees' performances at the 2006 World Cup. They achieved more than their counterparts in Korea/Japan in 2002.'