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WORLD CUP USA '94 / THE FIRST ROUND : Bolivians Throwing a Fit Over Scoreless Tie : Group C: Rough game against South Korea ends with angry South Americans criticizing officials and crying conspiracy.

June 24, 1994|BILL PLASCHKE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

FOXBORO, Mass. — Goals? Who needs goals?

Not the World Cup game between South Korea and Bolivia on Thursday.

Not when it involved crime and punishment, violence and vitriol, and a good old fashioned conspiracy theory.

The two gangs that couldn't shoot straight ended the game with this World Cup's first scoreless tie, probably knocking both from the tournament after the first round.

That there was no winner figures in a game between countries that have yet to win a World Cup game in 15 combined tries.

What didn't figure was that it would be so much fun.

Before 54,456 at sold-out Foxboro Stadium, South Korea and Bolivia spent much of the evening fighting, with shin kicks and headlocks and bear hugs.

The game was only 23 minutes old when a player from each team was taken off on a stretcher . . . at the same time.

Referee Leslie Mottram, a teacher from Scotland, responded with card tricks, handing out six yellows and one red.

One of the yellows went to star Bolivian midfielder Julio Baldivieso, his second yellow card of the tournament, causing an automatic suspension for the next game.

The red card and one-game suspension went to Bolivian midfielder Luis Cristaldo in the 83rd minute.

With forward Marco Etcheverry suspended for one more game because of a red card in the opener against Germany, the Bolivians will play their final first-round match against Spain on Monday without three of its best players.

All of which has totally convinced them that FIFA, soccer's governing body, wants them eliminated.

"It's fine that we have to play Spain and South Korea and Germany," Cristaldo said through an interpreter. "But now we have to play FIFA and the referees.

"FIFA is only fair to the bigger guys."

Cristaldo was surprisingly expelled when given a red card instead of a yellow after tackling Kim Pan-keun from behind.

Unknown to him or the crowd or even the statisticians, it was his second caution of the game.

Only after a postgame meeting with FIFA did the Bolivian team realize Cristaldo had been cautioned in the 24th minute for arguing with Mottram.

Not knowing why he had been ejected, Cristaldo argued even more after the red card. He went chest to chest with Mottram before finally being restrained by teammates.

"I didn't understand where the card had come from, I told the referee I thought he was very unjust," Cristaldo said. "I don't think he understood me, but I told him anyway."

Once Cristaldo left, the Bolivians became even angrier. Not only were they forced to play the final eight scoreboard minutes with only 10 players, they had to survive a surprising nine minutes of extra time before the game ended.

Extra time is accumulated for injuries and other stoppages. It is kept only on a referee's watch and is used up at the end of each half.

Many felt there had not been nine minutes of extra time accumulated in the entire game .

During that extra time, the Koreans nearly repeated the late heroics of their opener against Spain, in which they scored two goals in the final five minutes.

If Mottram had waited long enough, they probably would have.

Kim Joo-sung missed wide left. Ha Seok-ju's shot was knocked left by goalkeeper Carlos Trucco. Ko Jeong-woon kicked a shot directly at Trucco.

By that time, the South Koreans had finally tied the Bolivians with 20 shots each. But they could not untie the score.

When the game finally ended, several South Koreans collapsed in exhaustion.

The Bolivians trudged off the field in anger.

"In the past, things have always been made hard for Bolivia, and now is nothing different," said Guido Luayza Mariaca, president of the Bolivian Soccer Federation.

When asked if FIFA would rather have big-money teams from Spain and Germany advance from his group, Mariaca said, "You could say that."

When a reporter handed a FIFA official a similar question for Bolivian Coach Xavier Azkargorta in the FIFA-controlled postgame press conference, the official refused to ask the question.

"Maybe we have to pay somebody to let us win," said one Bolivian official.

The South Koreans, who have little chance in their final first-round game against Germany even with all of their best players, were appropriately somber.

"We should have won," said Coach Kim Ho. "I wish our players had played calmly. I wish they had not rushed."

So does the U.S. team. It was pointed toward a second-round meeting with the winner of this game. Providing, of course, there was a winner.

And you thought this game made the Bolivians mad.

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