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Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Collina's cheating clampdown
Pierluigi Collina and the BBC's Rob Bonnet
Pierluigi Collina spoke to the BBC's Rob Bonnet
Pierluigi Collina, the world's most famous referee and the man in charge of the first round clash between England and Argentina, has vowed to crack down on cheating during the World Cup.

He explained: "The recommendation we received from Fifa is to be very careful about diving because it's very, very difficult on the field to distinguish some situations."

Collina confirmed that that means simulation, or diving, in any part of the field will automatically lead to a yellow card.

But the man voted the best referee in the world four times refused to be drawn on whether some countries have a reputation for diving, or if cheating is widespread.

Tough but fair

In an interview for BBC HARDtalk he said: "Referees know the players from all over the world. We cannot start the match knowing and being sure about the behaviour of players.

"I cannot take a wrong decision only because of the reputation of the player."

In March this year Collina attended a Fifa seminar in Seoul where officials were briefed that cheating, especially diving and drug taking, will be clamped down on during the tournament.

He said: "I have to be careful if I know what could happen; my assessment has to be correct and fair."

Relationship

Collinga was voted referee of the tournament at Euro 2000 and refereed England's 5-1 victory over Germany last September.

He went on to speak about his attitude to refereeing, and the relationship between the player and referee.

He said: "We cannot consider ourselves as enemies because we are involved in the same sport."

"I think it is very important that everyone involved in the show, because football is also a show, understands what is happening and even what decision the referee took."

Final

And he admitted that his fearsome stare, for which he is famous, could help get the message across.

England beat Germany 5-1 in Munich last September
Collina refereed England's 5-1 win over Germany last September
"I think there are different moments during the match," he explained.

"Sometimes you have the time for a smile, another moment you have a strong and hard face - it depends on the moment."

The compulsory age of retirement for Fifa referees is 45 and so for 42 year-old Collina this will be his last World Cup.

But not getting the opportunity to referee a World Cup final would, he claimed, not be a disappointment.

He said: "I had the opportunity to referee an Olympic tournament final and a Champions League final. I took part in Euro 2000 and I hope to take part in the Euro 2004 tournament. So I'm happy for what I did. It's not a problem."


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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1




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