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Tuesday, 18 June, 2002, 19:16 GMT 20:16 UK
Referee feels Italy's wrath
Italy's World Cup party fell flat in Rome
Italy's World Cup party fell flat in Rome
A funereal sense of dismay and disbelief has descended on Italy following their team's World Cup exit at the hands of South Korea.

Giovanni Trapattoni's team lost 2-1 despite having led from the 18th to the 88th minute through Christian Vieri's goal.

But a late equaliser from Seol Ki-Hyeon and Ahn Jung-Hwan's golden goal spelled the end of Italy's stop-start campaign and stunned crowds into silence.

And fans around the country, on a day when temperatures soared close to 40 degrees Celsius, took their anger out on the referee.

Ecuador's Byron Moreno turned down calls for a penalty, disallowed a goal for offside and sent Francesco Totti off for diving.

Following the conclusion of the match fans in Rome's Piazza del Popolo began to chant "death to the referee".

Open Quote
I've seen certain things which have penalised us
Close Quote
Giovanni Trapattoni
And scuffles broke out in front of the capital's central train station as Italians hurled bottles and insults at a small group of South Korean supporters.

"Thieves, thieves, you stole the game," they yelled before police moved in to restore order.

Their view of the match and the referee was shared by the Italian media.

Bruno Pizzul, the country's most famous commentator, commented: "Frankly, that was complete robbery."

His anger was shared at the highest level.

"The referee was a disgrace, absolutely scandalous," said Franco Frattini, Italy's minister for public offences.

"I've never seen a game like it. It seemed as if they just sat around a table and decided to throw us out."

Even respected Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi weighed in, declaring that Italy had "deserved to win".

"On the pitch I saw team spirit, guts, organisation and fair play.

Italy's Christian Vieri bellows his anger at referee Byron Moreno, as does captain Paolo Maldini
Referee Byron Moreno left Italy's players fuming
"They've honoured Italian soccer and its traditions."

Their anger was matched by Italy's daily newspapers, with La Repubblica describing Moreno as "disgraceful".

Sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport described the match as "cursed and damned".

"Italy leave the World Cup sick with rage," it added.

"Rage over having wasted a game they were leading against a team that was capable of very little in front of goal.

"Rage and sadness over leaving the World Cup in the worst possible way, with a shadow of bad luck that persecuted us from the very first matches."


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Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni (via translator)
"Italy should have won"
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