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DATELINE WORLD CUP 2002/ITALY

Media Outlets Claim FIFA, Referee Cheated

June 20, 2002

"Thieves" and "Shame!" screamed newspaper headlines Wednesday as much of the Italian media blamed soccer's ruling body FIFA and "killer refereeing" for the national team's elimination from the World Cup.

FIFA used Ecuadorean referee Byron Moreno to fix the Azzurri's 2-1 defeat against South Korea on Tuesday, some of the country's top soccer commentators suggested.

"Thieves--the killer referee hounds the Azzurri out of the World Cup," the Rome daily Corriere dello Sport said in its front page.

"Shame! The scandalous Ecuadorean referee--Italy is out of the World Cup," said the country's top-selling sports daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Even the usually moderate Corriere della Sera, the country's most respected newspaper, described the World Cup as "dirty" in its front-page headline and editorial.

"Italy has been thrown out of a dirty World Cup, where referees and linesmen are used as hitmen," leading soccer commentator Giorgio Tosatti wrote in Corriere della Sera.

"Italy doesn't count anymore in those circles where results are decided and billionaire deals are struck," said an editorial in La Gazzetta dello Sport, which also listed other dubious decisions in Italy's previous World Cup games.

Compiled by Jim Barrero

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