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WORLD CUP NOTES

Ahn Will Remain With Italian Club

June 25, 2002|From Associated Press

Italian league club Perugia--which had threatened to fire the South Korean forward whose golden goal sent Italy packing from the World Cup--said Monday that Ahn Jung-Hwan will stay with the team next season.

Perugia, which until now had Ahn on loan from his K-League club in Busan, has exercised its option and bought the player, said club spokesman Paolo Giovagnoni. The option was to expire at the end of the month.

Ahn has been with the Italian team the last two seasons, spending most of his time on the bench.

His header lifted South Korea to a shocking 2-1 victory over Italy last week--delivering the three-time champions a humiliating elimination in the round of 16.

Perugia owner Luciano Gaucci responded by telling Ahn he was not welcome back.

"I am not going to pay the salary of a guy who has been the ruin of Italian soccer," he was quoted as saying by the Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport Wednesday, a day after Italy's knockout.

Gaucci's words drew criticism across the world and prompted the reaction of the Asian Football Confederation, which threatened to tell all Asian players to stay away from Perugia.

"It was an emotional reaction, a provocation," Giovagnoni said of Gaucci's words, adding the team's decision was made independently of the World Cup game.

*

Brian Hall, the only U.S. referee at the World Cup, was selected as the fourth official for Wednesday's semifinal between Brazil and Turkey.

Hall, a referee in Major League Soccer, was the referee for two group stage matches: Italy-Ecuador on June 3, and England-Nigeria on June 12. He also served as the fourth official for the England-Argentina game June 7.

*

Ronaldo ran, passed and shot on goal and said he felt no pain in his leg as Brazil prepared for the semifinal match against Turkey.

"It felt fine, normal," Ronaldo said after a scrimmage at Saitama Stadium.

Team doctor Jose Luis Runco said the striker did everything but sprint during practice and felt none of the muscle pain that led to his substitution in Brazil's 2-1 victory over England on Friday.

*

A Swiss investigation of FIFA President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter continues despite the withdrawal of a criminal complaint against him by members of the executive committee of world soccer's governing body, a prosecutor said.

"The investigation will be pursued until we decided to terminate it or file charges," said District Attorney Urs Hubmann.

Eleven of FIFA's 24-man executive committee filed the complaint in a Zurich court last month on the basis of a document from FIFA General Secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen alleging corruption and financial mismanagement.

*

Former Danish international Stig Toefting, who was on the national World Cup squad this year, was charged with assaulting two restaurant employees in downtown Copenhagen last weekend, police said.

The 32-year-old midfielder had been dining with several members of the Danish soccer squad Saturday evening at the Cafe Ketchup, when a dispute broke out with the staff, apparently over singing in the restaurant, police said.

Toefting butted heads with an employee and was asked to leave the restaurant. Outside, he chased and punched another employee before being detained by the police and charged with assault.

*

The United States' 1-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals was ESPN's most-watched soccer telecast, despite a 4:30 a.m. PDT start. Friday's game drew an average of 3.77 million homes, the network said.

The previous high was 2.88 million households for the 1999 Women's World Cup semifinal between the United States and Brazil, which started at 1:30 p.m. PDT on the Fourth of July. The previous best for a men's game was 2.71 million homes for the United States' 2-1 upset of Colombia during the 1994 World Cup, a game that started at 4:30 p.m. PDT.

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