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Archive for Sunday, June 23, 2002

Spain latest to blast refs

June 23, 2002

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— Add Spain to the growing list of critics condemning World Cup referees.

Coach Jose Antonio Camacho was furious at the ref and linesmen for disallowing three goals Saturday before South Korea knocked Spain out of the tournament in a penalty-kick shootout following a 0-0 tie.

The Italians were the first to raise a fuss about the officiating after they lost 2-1 to Croatia, then were knocked out of the tournament in a 2-1 overtime loss to South Korea. That prompted 400,000 irate fans to send hateful e-mails to FIFA, overloading its computer system.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said some linesmen were "a disaster," and Pele, perhaps soccer's best player ever and now an ambassador for the sport, said "the level of referees is very poor, very low."

RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, wants to sue FIFA for loss of potential revenue, claiming the world body was negligent in appointing referees.

Camacho said Italy, Mexico, Portugal and the United States all were on the end of bad calls.

"We expected the officiating to be better. This was a quarterfinal match after all," Camacho said. "I'm sad because we lost unfairly."

Prominent referee Edgardo Codesal Mendez said there were always going to be mistakes. He said out of some 4,000 decisions in the first 56 games of the World Cup, only a handful were wrong.

Aiming for its first World Cup semifinals berth in 11 attempts, Spain hit the back of the net once in each half and again in overtime against South Korea.

Fernando Morientes appeared to have scored on a close-range kick off a pass from Joaquin Sanchez in overtime, but the linesman ruled the ball had gone out. Replays showed the ball did not go over the end line.

Enrique Romero was ruled offside just before halftime and Ruben Baraja angled a header into the net five minutes after the break, only for teammate Morientes to be ruled offside.

The Brazilians, meanwhile, aren't happy about going into the semifinals without Ronaldinho. He got a red card for a hard tackle Friday on English defender Danny Mills after scoring what turned out to be the winning goal, and he must sit out the semifinal.

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