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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Blatter condemns officials
Fifa president Sepp Blatter
Blatter has sympathy with the Italians
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has described some of the refereeing decisions made during the World Cup as "a disaster", but called on Italian football to show "dignity" in defeat.

Defeat to South Korea by a golden goal caused uproar in Italy, after Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno disallowed a seemingly legitimate Italian goal and sent off Francesco Totti.

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I call on Italian soccer to display some dignity and fair play
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Sepp Blatter
"The refereeing has been the only negative aspect of this World Cup," said Blatter.

"The (referees) have been quite good, but the (linesmen) have been a disaster, especially when it comes to offside.

"They haven't even realised that it is better to award an offside goal than to disallow a good goal."

Blatter has denied claims by Italian officials that the team was the victim of a Fifa plot, but admitted they had been unfortunate as earlier matches had also seen dubious decisions.

"Sadly, and I have suffered greatly because of it, there have been exceptional circumstances and coincidences that saw many errors consecutively made against the same team, Italy," he said.

Byron Moreno shows rhe red card to Francesco Totti
Byron Moreno shows rhe red card to Francesco Totti
"Totti's sending off against Korea was neither a penalty nor a dive. A referee with a feeling (for the game) would not have shown him the card, bearing in mind the same player had already been booked."

Moreno insists that he made the correct decision in sending off Totti for diving during extra-time.

"I would do it again," he told Il Messaggero newspaper. "I don't even have to watch the replays. Totti dived."

Blatter refused to lay all the blame for Italy's exit with Moreno and criticised the reaction to the defeat.

"Italy's elimination is not only down to referees and linesmen who made human not premeditated errors," Blatter told La Gazzetta.

"Italy made mistakes both in defence and in attack.

"I call on Italian soccer to display some dignity and fair play because you can tell a great side more by the way it accepts defeat than by the way it handles victory."

But the Fifa president is already planning to change the way in which referees are chosen to officiate at the World Cup in future.

"A World Cup that receives the best players and teams in the world should be overseen by the best referees regardless of their nationality," he said.

"From now on we will call in the best, full stop, even if they come from just a handful of countries."


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