KOREA 2 ITALY 1 -
GOLDEN AHN SENDS AZZURRI HOME HUMBLED
A bit-part player at Perugia scores to
put co-hosts in the quarter-finals
Seol 88, Ahn 117 | Vieri 18
1-1 after 90mins. Golden Goal in extra-time
Jon Brodkin at the Daejeon Stadium
Wednesday June 19, 2002
Italy will be in shock this morning and Perugia supporters will
be shaking their heads more than most. Ahn Jung-hwan scored just
a solitary Serie A goal for the club last season. Yesterday, with
a flick of his head, he brought the country where he earns his
wages to its knees and caused one of the great upsets of any World
The sight of Gianluigi Buffon lying motionless in his net for
two minutes after Ahn's late golden goal encapsulated Italy's
plight. Disbelief and humiliation will be felt by their players.
This was a tournament they could have won. Instead they have
suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats in their history.
Perhaps North Korea's win over them in 1966 was the last of this
With three minutes of normal time remaining it had all looked
so simple for Italy. They were leading 1-0 thanks to an early
Christian Vieri header, barely looked like conceding a goal and
had a quarter-final with Spain in their sights. If anyone knows
how to defend a slim lead it is the Italians but this time their
luck ran out.
An 88th-minute error by Christian Panucci allowed Seol Ki-hyeon
an equaliser and suddenly the momentum was with Korea. Francesco
Totti's extra-time dismissal for a second booking - for an alleged
dive - increased the psychological advantage enjoyed by their
opponents. The golden goal rule means one mistake or moment of
inspiration can decide a match. The gun was pointing at Italy.
Giovanni Trapattoni is expected to continue as coach and the
feeling among many Italians was that the team was robbed. They
pointed to an off side decision against Damiano Tommasi before
the midfielder put the ball in the net in extra-time. They all
believe Totti was unfairly sent off and it looked too debatable
to merit a caution.
Other Italians will feel that the fates are against them in major
competitions. They lost the final of Euro 2000 to France on a
golden goal and suffered defeat on penalties in the previous three
World Cups. The truth is, though, that Trapattoni's team have
only themselves to blame.
A side that relies so heavily on defending a narrow lead always
risks being tripped up by the slightest error and Panucci failed
to clear a cross to hand an equaliser to a South Korean team that
refused to give up. Then Paolo Maldini was beaten in the air by
Ahn for the decisive goal. At the other end Italy wasted chances
to have secured victory.
Vieri somehow missed from six yards in the 90th minute and Gennaro
Gattuso saw a shot tipped over in extra-time. In any event, Italy
should not be looking to excuses for failing to beat South Korea,
however impressively Guus Hiddink's team are performing.
Trapattoni's players diced with death in the group stage, squeezing
through thanks to a late equaliser against Mexico and Croatia's
failure to defeat Ecuador. No problem, it was said, Italy tend
to start slowly and build. In fact they were only delaying their
The sense of shame in Italy will be especially sharp because
these things simply do not happen to the national team at World
Cups. There was the North Korea defeat and a loss to Poland in
1974 but the countries that have beaten them in key games since
are Holland, France, Argentina, Brazil and France again. When
it matters against inferior opponents, Italy invariably know how
to do their job.
Another success based on professionalism rather than any great
style seemed certain here. After Vieri headed in Totti's corner,
Italy were largely comfortable, Korea seemed intimidated at first
and the Italians' knowhow at getting men behind the ball, closing
passing angles and chasing hard in midfield was working.
Italy conceded plenty of possession but scarcely a chance to
their opponents in the second half. Moments of skill from Totti
livened a workmanlike performance. The midfield is not high on
creativity but it hardly wants for endeavour and at the back Maldini
and Mark Iuliano looked solid.
Korea had missed a penalty in the fifth minute, with Ahn - later
to be the hero - seeing his spot-kick saved after Panucci pushed
Seol to the ground. But as the minutes ticked away Hiddink's players
refused to accept that reaching the second round for the first
time had been enough.
Hwang Sun-hong's cross was missed by Iuliano, Panucci failed
to clear and Seol scored with a first-time shot. Reprieved by
Vieri, Korea polished Italy off. Totti went after tumbling in
the area when challenged by Song Chong-gug and either team might
have scored before Ahn jumped ahead of Maldini, playing his last
game for Italy, to score from Lee Yong-pyo's cross.
This is not an inspiring Italy side but the feeling was that
it would be an effective one. In fact it's not even that. Another
of the favourites are gone after an Italian legend was found wanting
by a fringe player at Perugia. It has been that sort of World
South Korea (3-4-3): Lee W J; Choi J C, Hong M B (Cha D R, 83
min), Kim T Y (Hwang S H, 63); Song C G, Kim N I (Lee C S, 68),
Yoo S C, Lee Y P; Park J S, Ahn J H, Seol K H.
"I'm very, very happy, I'm very satisfied. They are one
of the superpowers of football. I think this is unique what the
Korean players have done so far."
"The dream is going on because we have set another record
for South Korea. I am very happy with the boys who had a difficult
time in the first half against such an experienced team.
"After the first half the players started to cope with Italy
and at the end we could dominate. The players are so happy in
the locker room and I am glad we could make it for the Korean
Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni:
Insisted that his team deserved to beat South Korea.
"We had many more chances but Korea played with their heart.
It was a beautiful match but the winner should have been Italy."
"Unfortunately, this World Cup for Italy started by going
downhill. I've seen certain things which have penalised us. Today
we played a good game. I'd say we're going out with our heads
held high but with a lot to be bitter about.
"It was an emotional, beautiful, game. We had far, far more
goalscoring chances than Korea but Korea showed heart. We had
a lot of good situations.
"We had a player sent off - I don't know why. We played
with enthusiasm. We had three of four chances to wrap up the match,
we had a chance for a golden goal from Gattuso and from Vieri
at the end of normal time.
"Perhaps we should have finished the game with those opportunities.
That's football, but I think that if one of these teams should
have gone to the quarters it should have been us, given what we
did in this competition up until now.
"You have all seen the match. We started the World Cup with
certain negative situations, and things have not changed from
match to match.
"In fact, we are going out in a bad way. Even the Fifa delegates
that I know were incredulous.
"I don't speak of a conspiracy, but certainly of negative
situations. These linesmen are incapable.
"The boys have done a great job and we have shown that we
are a great squad.
"A moment like this I have not experienced before. I have
not cried tears but my heart is crying."
Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro:
"I think it is a disgrace. We talk of our referees but that
one today was really disappointing, it was harsh. It is an unfair
elimination because this squad has given everything.
"Tommasi's goal was legal and Totti's sending-off was unnecessary."
Bruno Pizzul, Italy's most famous commentator told state television
RAI immediately after the game
"Frankly, that was complete robbery."
"DEATH TO THE REFEREE"
AS ITALIANS SMELL A RAT
Rory Carroll in Rome
Wednesday June 19, 2002
For once the cliche was true and football did unite Italy, but
it was a shared experience of bitterness, dismay and utter certainty
that the nation had been mugged.
A sense of injustice blistered seconds after the realisation that
South Korea had scored a golden goal and the referee - the Ecuadorian
referee - had blown the whistle on a match Italians regarded as
rigged, or at best botched.
Byron Moreno's performance was denounced as the nadir of incompetence.
Or was it evidence of a plot? Italy had defeated Ecuador in the
first round. The debate raged in parliament, on television, in
cafes and piazzas.
Not since Italy's humiliation by North Korea in England in 1966
had a World Cup exit so hurt but this time, Italians agreed, the
players were not to blame.
"Death to the referee", chanted hundreds of fans gathered
by a big screen at Rome's main train station. Some Koreans made
the mistake of celebrating, prompting a cascade of plastic bottles
and insults. "Thieves, thieves, you stole the game".
Police broke up the scuffles.
For 90 minutes viewers and commentators contested Moreno's decisions
- South Korea's free-kicks, penalty, equaliser - but it was the
sending off in extra-time of Francesco Totti and Damiano Tommasi's
disallowed goal which dispelled doubts. "Frankly, that was
complete robbery," said Bruno Pizzul, commentating for the
state broadcaster Rai.
Sergio Campana, the president of Italy's footballers' association,
demanded that Italy's football federation register a protest of
shame and disgust with the governing body Fifa.
Parliamentarians abandoned a debate on assisted fertility. Daniela
Santache, of the right-wing National Alliance, was apoplectic.
"I always thought Korea was corrupt and this proves it."
Italy was a "sacrificial victim" for the hosts, said
others. As the insults veered close to racism politicians ushered
cameras out of their offices, though not before one had demanded
the referee be sent to a Sardinian mine.
The captain, Paolo Maldini, said: "It is possible to make
mistakes, but today the referee went too far. Sincerely it was
They will lie low until the mourning passes but that minority
of Italians who feel oppressed by their country's passion for
football were yesterday serene, verging on content. "Fortunately
the nightmare is finished," said Pierluigi Battista, a commentator
with La Stampa.
KOREA CONQUER BEYOND THEIR WILDEST DREAMS
Daniel Taylor in Daejeon
Wednesday June 19, 2002
Amid the throbbing noise and general pandemonium, one thing stood
out behind the goal where Ahn Jung-hwan, ironically the only member
of the South Korea team to play in Italy, had scored his golden
goal. "Welcome to Azzuri's [sic] tomb," said one of
the red-and-white banners. "Porta dell' inferno."
It was a wonderful thought, that Giovanni Trapattoni's pampered
millionaires, having sauntered in with their dark shades, designer
stubble and sharp suits, could somehow be overwhelmed amid the
incessant racket conjured up by the world's most synchronised
supporters. Porta dell' inferno: hell's gate.
Before shuffling away, reflecting on what might have been his
last act in office, Trapattoni described the cacophony inside
Daejeon's World Cup stadium as something he had never experienced
in almost 50 years in the game.
For all the raucous screeches of excitement that accompanied
every attack, the Korean fans have not quite mastered the art
of intimidating opponents. They are far too polite for that. Even
the referee's name gets an almighty cheer before kick-off. "And
do you know what?" asked their coach Guus Hiddink. "They
even clean up after themselves. Can you imagine that? The place
is spotless by the time they finish. These are good people and
I am so glad we could make it for them."
Spain will provide formidable opposition in Saturday's quarter-final,
but what began to emerge during their defeat of Portugal last
Friday and suddenly became apparent here yesterday is that one
of the most erratic and upside-down World Cups ever could, quite
feasibly, have its most unexpected winners yet.
Korea may be languishing in 40th position in Fifa's world listings
(114 ranking points behind sixth-placed Italy) but, just as the
Irish had done in Suwon on Sunday, they will face Jose Antonio
Camacho's team with heady anticipation.
"A couple of months ago I could never have dreamt about
a moment like this, not in my wildest dreams," said Hiddink.
"We came into the competition thinking that we would have
done well if we won one game. But we've beaten Portugal and now
Italy, two of the superpowers of world football.
"We are normal, humble, hard-working people and the players
have worked tremendously hard ever since we got together. I am
not thinking about Spain tonight. My first aim is to have a glass
of wine, but let's go to the next challenge with optimism. I like
my players to be greedy and that is what I will be telling them."
Whatever happens now, Hiddink's players have already exceeded
their wildest expectations, earning themselves megastar status
in a country that has embraced the World Cup with even more enthusiasm
than in Japan. Almost three million Koreans took to the streets
to celebrate last night, the biggest gathering this country has
experienced since the peace marches of 1987. More than 50,000
Korean flags are being sold every day and another banner inside
the stadium demanded: Hiddink for President.
"I think we got through because of the Korean supporters,"
said the defender Kim Tae-young. "And I'm sure we will go
on to defeat Spain if they continue to give us their support."
This sense of belief is spreading through Hiddink's squad. "We
are making world history," said the midfielder Lee Yong-pyo.
"Nobody expected us to do this well, myself included, but
why can't we go to the final? We have shown anything is possible
and no one scares us now."
Italy would have emerged with far greater credit had they shown
greater dignity in defeat rather than directing their vitriol
towards the referee. "I thought he was very normal,"
countered Hiddink. The truth, he said, was that they had been
the better team. And it was hard to disagree.
AHN'S ITALIAN COUP EARNS HIM THE SACK
AHN NO! LOOK WHAT YOU"VE
GONE AND DONE NOW!
ROME, June 19 (Reuters) - Italian soccer club Perugia has cut
its ties with South Korea's Ahn Jung-hwan after he scored the
goal which knocked Italy out of the World Cup, Perugia's chairman
was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
'That gentleman will never set foot in Perugia again,' Luciano
Gaucci told sports' daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Italy has reacted with fury to Tuesday's shock 2-1 defeat to
South Korea, accusing the referee and soccer's ruling body FIFA
of fixing the match.
Ahn, who missed a penalty earlier in the match, was hailed as
a national hero when he headed home the golden goal winner in
the 116th minute.
But his goal was viewed in a different light at Perugia in central
Italy, where he has been viewed as an under-achiever during his
stay at the club.
'He was a phenomenon only when he played against Italy. I am
a nationalist and I regard such behaviour not only as an affront
to Italian pride but also an offence to a country which two years
ago opened its doors to him,' Gaucci was quoted as saying.
'I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined
Ahn joined Perugia on loan from the South Korean team Pusan I.cons
in the summer of 2000. He scored five goals in 29 appearances.
A Perugia spokesman said on Wednesday the club had virtually
decided to release Ahn even before the World Cup tie.
A KOREAN CONSPIRACY?
James Richardson of The Guardian
Thursday June 20, 2002
"Infamy, infamy - they've all got it infamy!" Yes,
as Italy's finest (and Giovanni Trappatoni) return home this week,
their fellow countrymen await them aghast at what they are calling
here, "the biggest refereeing disgrace in the history of
the World Cup." Quite simply, the Azzurri have been done
in by a Fiendish International Plot, and since Tuesday the nation
has been talking of little else. In case you weren't part of the
worldwide conspiracy, here's what all the fuss is about: Tuesday
lunchtime Italy lost 2-1 to South Korea and got knocked out of
the World Cup. Sic Gloria Transit Mundo you might say in your
admirable Latin, as France, Argentina and others have already
discovered - but the Italians claim that unlike the others, they
were deliberately "taken out" by bad refereeing.
They had their suspicions well before Tuesday's game. In Italy's
group matches after all, as many of their goals had been unfairly
disallowed as had stood- four; enough for one Italian paper to
call for dope tests for the linesmen. In this, the country that
brought you the Borgias, folk are well aware that Fifa brought
the cup east for money - and the longer the host nations stay
in, the better for Blatter and co. Thus facing co-hosts South
Korea, the Italian press was already expecting the worst.
To be fair, they got it. Two incidents stand out: 12 minutes
into extra time, Francesco Totti is brought down in the South
Korea penalty area. The game's Ecuadorian referee arrives from
the other side of the field and - wrongly - gives the Italy No10
a yellow card for diving, sending him off. Shortly after, 10-man
Italy still find a potential golden goal through Tomassi. The
match officials, however, call it back - wrongly - for offside.
South Korea score their winner shortly after and Italy go home.
It's a bitter pill for them to swallow: after three years of dismal
results abroad at club level, the three-time World Cup winners
were counting on the Azzurri to restore a little prestige. Instead,
they got their earliest exit since 1974.
Now undoubtedly some of blame for this lies with Italy themselves,
and their paranoid tactics: against the South Koreans they grimly
defended a 1-0 lead instead of pressing home the advantage. The
fact remains though, that with fairer refereeing the Azzurri would
still be out east, and would still be unbeaten. Hence a populus
that can barely contain its anger.
Italy had come to a halt for Tuesday's match - crowds packing
city centres the length of the country, braving summer temperatures
as high as 40 degrees. The scenes arriving from the Far East saw
many jumbo screens destroyed by angry fans. Post-game, while the
players talked of "smacking the referee in the face"
(Di Livio), Italy's broadsheets echoed the theme: "It's the
dirty World Cup" as the Corriere Della Sera's front page
cried: "Assassins!" Meanwhile, top sports daily the
Gazzetta spoke of "Outrage!", offering on page three
"All the names of the conspirators . . ." For the record,
this is a mixed bag - FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, Korean sports boss
Un Yong Kim and Turkey's FIFA vice president Seres Erzik (in the
library, with the lead-piping) - all of whom have their various
nefarious reasons for wanting Italy out.
For all the controversy, out they will remain. While MPs table
questions in the Italian parliament, while the Federation of Italian
Housewives call for the head of the FA to be sacked (only in Italy),
even while Panini announce the withdrawal of their World Cup sticker
collection in protest, all that really remains for Italian fans
is to support anyone playing South Korea from now on. That, and
pray that Azerbahjan doesn't have any friends in high places.
It's against the Eastern minnows that Italy will make their return
to international football on September 7th. Should be a long summer.
REFEREE ROW BOILS OVER AS WORLD CUP
SHOCKS GO ON
Jason Burke and Emma Daly Seville of The Observer
Sunday June 23, 2002
The World Cup was plunged into new controversy yesterday after
the quarter-final between Spain and South Korea was marred by
contentious refereeing decisions that saw two goals against the
Spain lost on penalties after the referee ruled out two strikes
by one of the tournament favourites. The decisions fuelled an
increasingly fierce row over the quality of match officials selected
by Fifa, football's governing body, for the World Cup.
Last week, Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, admitted that there
was a problem with some match officials.
The row over yesterday's match follows bitter criticism of officials
by Italian players and coaches after their shock exit, also at
the hands of South Korea, last week.
Five goals against the South Koreans, 150-1 outsiders at the
start of the tournament, have now been disallowed, leading to
renewed concerns about the influence of noisy home crowds on inexperienced
Jose Antonio Camacho, the Spanish coach, yesterday criticised
Gamal Ghandour, the Egyptian referee who ruled out one goal for
an apparent push and another after a linesman said that the ball
had gone out of play. Television footage showed that it had not.
'I thought the referee would be fairer in a quarter-final match
like this,' Camacho said. 'A scandal? I know. We won the game,
because we scored the goals, but they did not want to allow them.
Something similar happened to Italy and Portugal, but I thought
that it would not be so blatant in a quarter-final because the
whole world was watching.'
Moments after Hong Myung-bo, the South Korean captain, converted
the winning penalty, furious Spanish players surrounded match
officials. At home Spaniards marked their team's exit with a torrent
of abuse directed at the referee. 'Robbery', ran the headline
over the internet edition of Marca, Spain's leading sports daily.
Proceedings at the European Union summit in Seville had been
delayed to allow Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and his fellow
leaders to watch the game. At a news conference to mark the end
of the summit in Seville Aznar told reporters: 'Luck - and a few
other things - was missing. I'm not entirely happy today... it
was not a field of dreams for us,' he said.
Pio Cabanillas, a Spanish government spokesman, said: 'The two
goals were so obviously legal that we feel very badly.'
In South Korea more than four million people took to the streets
Blatter last week suggested reforming the selection process of
officials. Currently some less able or experienced officials are
selected ahead of others to ensure a good spread of different
nationalities. The idea is to have more neutral referees should
the bigger, more established nations - which produce the bulk
of the most well-known referees - dominate the latter stages of
Blatter suggested this may change. This week a series of possible
reforms will be suggested to Fifa's executive committee, including
adding two extra linesmen to run the line behind goals. Academic
studies have suggested that the modern game is now played so quickly
that referees and linesmen are physically incapable of keeping
up with it.
However, statisticians say that the chance of one team benefiting
from five errors by officials in almost consecutive games is 'infinitesimal'.
In yesterday's other match, Turkey beat Senegal after extra time.
NEWS OF THE WORLD EDITORIAL
WILL somebody tell Germany how many goals they
will need to score to be
allowed to beat South Korea on Tuesday?
Two? Three? Is there indeed a figure? Or will
officials chalk off legitimate
goals until Korea advance on to Yokohama and FIFA can deliver
lucrative part of the world not just a World Cup, but the trophy
Maybe it is all coincidence, the fault of hapless
officials from Egypt,
Uganda and Trinidad and Tobago, promoted beyond their competence
But there remains the suspicion it is something
That Korea have become an irresistible force because
the power and influence
that brought the World Cup to the country is still at work.
Don't think it couldn't happen. Does the name
Roy Jones mean anything to
He was the American boxer at the Seoul Olympics
in 1988 who was on the
receiving end of a decision so diabolical against a Korean opponent
even the locals booed it.
Years later the IOC admitted, yes, it was bent.
Years later Jones is still
waiting for his gold medal.
Will this be the fate of Spain? The third nation
after Portugal and Italy to
suggest FIFA's fair play ethic runs down a one-way street ?but
the first to
be taken seriously.
Portugal were dismissed as bad sports after Joao
Pinto punched the referee
following his deserved sending-off.
Italy's protests were undermined when Luciano
Gaucci, president of Serie A
Perugia, sacked Korean goalscorer Ahn Jung Hwan for having the
score against the nation of his employers.
But Spain? They won in normal time, they won in
extra time and cynics
suspect that had they won on penalties, too, Egyptian ref Gamal
would have disallowed at least one effort for offside.
What are we to think when an official tries to
stop Spanish coach Jose
Antonio Camacho instructing his team before extra-time but leaves
Hiddink of Korea alone?
When he then flags a ball out of play that was
a foot in after Fernando
Morientes has scored what should have been a golden goal winner?
When the referee blows the final whistle 30 seconds
short as Spain are
about to take a corner? Frankly, it stinks.
The Brazilian side of 1970 would have its work
cut out on this playing
field. Korea are the bullies, not the bullied.
At best it's incompetence, at worst it's corruption.
Whatever, it will make fans around the world unite
behind Germany on Tuesday
in Seoul. Yes, that bad.
FIFA DISMISS FIX THEORY
Brian Scott on Soccernet.com
Football's world governing body last night anxiously attempted
to dismiss suggestions that World Cup games are being rigged in
favour of South Korea.
The latest refereeing errors handed victory to the co-hosts on
Saturday as victims Spain saw two goals chalked off in the quarter-final
and subsequently lost on penalties.
Ivan Helguera spoke for a disillusioned Spanish dressing room,
saying: 'Everyone saw two perfectly good goals. If Spain didn't
win, it's because they didn't want us to win. I feel terrible
about this game.'
But, as the Spaniards prepare to lodge an official protest, FIFA
vice-president David Will claimed that any criticism is merely
sour grapes on the part of losers.
'This is absolute and complete nonsense,' he said.
'Referees and their assistants are totally independent people.
They can't possibly influence the progress of teams, nor would
they try. This is sour grapes on the part of teams who have gone
Spain's complaints came in the wake of Italian fury at decisions
which went against them when they lost to the South Koreans in
the second round. In addition, Portugal saw two players dismissed
when they lost to Guus Hiddink's side.
'Even wrong decisions are part of the game,' Scotsman Will went
on. 'If mistakes are made, we know them to be honest mistakes
and national associations must learn to take this on board.'
The 65-year-old lawyer, recently re-elected for a further term
of office, duly acknowledged that an Italian television station
was threatening to sue FIFA over Italy's early elimination.
'I'm aware of this,' he said, 'but they've got no chance whatsoever.
If you look at the laws of the game, these say that the referee's
decision is final.'
The Spanish FA, however, have decided to lodge an official protest
against referee Gamal Ghandour and his two linesmen.
President Angel Maria Villar, who is also a FIFA vice-president,
said the match officials had made too many mistakes and robbed
Spain of a victory they had earned.
'The referees made mistakes and, if anyone ought to have won,
it was Spain,' Villar said. 'There were a lot of important mistakes
like the goals we had disallowed.
'We are going to present an official complaint in which we shall
say we were prejudiced by the referee.
'The damage has been done, but we have to stop things like this
Referee Hugh Dallas - who took charge of Germany's quarter-final
win over the USA on Friday - added his condemnation of suggestions
that match officials were favouring the co-hosts.
He told the Daily Record: 'I'm told there is a lot of talk about
conspiracy theories. My first reaction is very simple - it's absolute
'I can understand exactly why this this stuff starts up. As a
football fan I have nothing but sympathy for the Italians, for
example. As a referee I cannot defend what happened to them and
I cannot explain it but these are genuine mistakes.'
He continued: 'There is no question that anyone from FIFA has
spoken to the referees and told them to look after Korea and Japan.
'If that was the case you'd have to ask why haven't Japan also
Despite Will's assertion that FIFA are relaxed about the standard
of officials, the governing body are also keeping a watchful eye
on the situation.
FIFA chairman Keith Cooper said: 'The chairman of the referees'
committee, Senes Erzik, says there have been one or two major
mistakes which have been a cause for concern.' But Cooper denied
the notion there was any plot to get the co-hosts as far as possible
in the tournament.
He said: '99 per-cent of conspiracy theories cases prove to be
unfounded.This is one of those 99 per-cent of occasions.'
FAIR PLAY, PLEASE
Jeff Powell in Gwanju
The great game robbery goes on and on, clouding this World Cup
spectacle with dark suspicions of fraud and conspiracy.
The South Korean phenomenon can no longer be taken at face value.
Something sinister seems to be lurking beneath the story-book
facade of this odyssey of the underdog.
Romantic though the Red Devils might appear and refreshing as
their whirlwind football may be, they have no right appearing
in tomorrow's semi-final.
The Koreans have been beaten twice in everything but name. That,
after being given more outside assistance towards an earlier victory
than an old man in a wheelchair would need to climb Mount Everest.
They have made history not on merit but by some mysterious intervention
which, if not divine, has to be dubious.
Once can be an accident. Twice could be coincidence. But South
Korea have benefited three times from decisions which, when viewed
together, give the impression of being as biased as a crown green
The Portuguese claimed they had been cheated. Then the Italians.
Now the Spanish. Sour grapes? Not after the most grievous injustice
at the weekend.
Portugal had two players sent off. Italy had a valid golden-goal
winner disallowed, and now, most grotesquely of all, Spain have
had two good goals, any one of which would have prevented their
quarter-final going to penalties, and probably a normal-time penalty
To make it all the more sickening, Spain had begun to look like
the class act of a World Cup in bad need of quality superseding
surprises in its final stages.
The term upset has taken on a different meaning from when it
was used to describe the premature elimination of Argentina and
Not only are the Portuguese, Italians and Spanish upset but also
everyone who wants to believe the global game is as honest as
it is beautiful.
FIFA has received almost half a million angry e-mails and no
doubt more are on their way from Spain.
The writers mostly suspect that influences even more powerful
than the rabid Korean crowds are being brought to bear on the
referees and linesmen.
Although the most common accusation is that the World Cup organisers
want an Asian team to prosper to keep public interest here alive,
the protesters may have an unexpected ally.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter is himself talking critically of
the officials. In so doing, he may be taking an oblique swipe
at one of the richest and most ambitious power brokers in Asia.
Chung Mong-Joon was one of the most outspoken opponents of Blatter's
re-election. He is also thought to be using his positions as president
of the Korean Football Federation and co-chairman of their World
Cup organising committee to launch his political bid to become
president of the country.
To that end, Dr Chung is riding the wave of patriotic fervour
by using such words as 'emancipation and liberation' to describe
how 'football has been the catharsis through which we have discovered
that we are one people again'.
The question is whether the means are as noble as those ends.
The Korean people dismiss doubters, especially the Italians,
as bitter whingers. But if something is amiss, they would also
be victims of a terrible deception.
England rigged the 1966 draw so they could play every game at
Wembley and there will always be a vigorous debate as to whether
the vital second goal in Geoff Hurst's World Cup Final-winning
hat-trick really crossed the German line.
But we have never seen anything which looks as blatant as this.
Now, unless everything about tomorrow's game in Seoul is transparently
fair, we shall find ourselves in the contrary position of rooting
for the Germans.
SEMI-FINALS GO TO EUROPEANS
Fifa have responded to the hysterical criticism that has been
heaped on the World Cup's match officials by appointing two seasoned
Europeans to take charge of the semi-finals.
Switzerland's Urs Meier will referee tomorrow's Germany v South
Korea clash, while Kim Milton Nielsen, a Dane, has been picked
for Brazil v Turkey on Wednesday.
The Fifa president Sepp Blatter yesterday said he had asked the
referees' committee to appoint "the best" officials
for the semi-finals and hinted that this had not been its prerogative
before the quarter-finals.
Blatter told Australian television: "What we have witnessed
in past matches, and specifically matches where the home team
of Korea was involved, I have to say I have difficulties understanding
our referee committee concerning the designation of the referees
and the linesmen."
This guide was created and is maintained by Johnny
Send info and questions to John (with WORLDCUP in the Title Bar)
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