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Irate Italians' E-Mails Lead to Crash of FIFA System Server

June 23, 2002|From Associated Press

FIFA has received about 400,000 hateful e-mails from fans of Italy irate over refereeing they say was to blame for their team's elimination from the World Cup.

FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper said some of the e-mail was "virulent, some quite abusive, some of them very threatening, some of them quite disturbing."

The Internet traffic was so great that it crashed FIFA's e-mail system server, he said Saturday.

The Italians complained about the officiating after they lost, 2-1, to Croatia in group play, then after they were knocked out of the tournament in a 2-1 overtime loss to South Korea.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has denied any conspiracy, but acknowledged that some bad calls had been made.

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Add Spain to the growing list of critics condemning World Cup referees. Coach Jose Antonio Camacho was furious at the referee and linesmen for disallowing three goals Saturday before South Korea knocked Spain out of the tournament in a penalty-kick shootout.

Blatter said some linesmen were "a disaster," and Pele, perhaps soccer's best player ever and now an ambassador for the sport, said "the level of referees is very poor, very low."

Camacho said Italy, Mexico, Portugal and the United States all were on the end of bad calls.

"We expected the officiating to be better. This was a quarterfinal match after all," Camacho said. "I'm sad because we lost unfairly."

Prominent referee Edgardo Codesal Mendez said there will always be mistakes. He said out of some 4,000 decisions in the first 56 games of the World Cup, only a handful were wrong.

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The start of the second day of the European Union summit in Seville, Spain, was delayed for an hour Saturday so the 15 leaders and many hundreds of diplomats and journalists could watch summit host Spain play South Korea in a World Cup quarterfinal.

"The Spanish told all delegations on Friday night the summit would not resume on Saturday until 10 a.m.," EU spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said. "They gave no reason, but I think you can figure this out."

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Germany has appealed to FIFA to annul the yellow card given to striker Oliver Neuville in Friday's 1-0 quarterfinal victory over the United States.

The foul was committed by midfielder Jens Jeremies but was wrongly attributed to Neuville by Scottish referee Hugh Dallas, the team said.

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