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Italian TV station threatens lawsuit

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 21, 2002

RAI SpA said it might sue FIFA after Italy's exit cost the state-owned television station advertising revenue.

Italy's elimination, 2-1 in overtime to South Korea in the second round, will make Italians less likely to watch the tournament's remaining matches, analysts said.

RAI lost as much as $6.8-million when clients canceled ads after the loss, Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported.

"Considering the enormous refereeing mistakes, which were unanimously recognized and evident, our lawyers are studying possible actions against FIFA to obtain damages," RAI said in a statement.

Almost 24-million households watched Italy's game against South Korea, more than any 1998 World Cup game.

Against South Korea, Italian midfielder Francesco Totti was sent off in extra time after a second yellow card, issued for diving. Replays suggested the referee might have made the wrong call.

Eight minutes later, Damiano Tommasi appeared to score the winning goal. But a linesman ruled he was offside. Replays showed Tommasi probably was onside.

Italy had five goals disallowed during the event.

Meanwhile, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said there will be changes to how officials are selected in future tournaments.

"The refereeing has been the only negative aspect of this World Cup magnificently organized by two countries," Blatter said, adding Italy suffered the most from controversial decisions.

Blatter said the World Cup should use referees from fewer countries and should ensure the official and his two assistants come from the same country. He also said linesmen have ignored orders to give the benefit of the doubt to the attacking team when calling for offside.

FEUD CONTINUES: After Ahn Jung-hwan's goal eliminated Italy, the owner of his Italian club, Perugia, said Ahn would be cut.

That has angered the Asian Football Confederation, which threatened to blacklist Perugia if the team gets rid of Ahn, meaning it would tell Asian players to stay away from the club.

"We are really outraged that Perugia would even consider terminating the contract of a superstar. It's such bad taste," confederation head Peter Velappan said.

"I hope they cool down and come to their senses."

TOO MUCH CELEBRATION: A South Korean man reportedly went to a hospital with a dislocated shoulder after punching the air when South Korea scored its first goal against Italy.

POLISH COACH: Jerzy Engel said he is prepared to step down after his team's quick exit. Poland's federation is expected to consider Engel's future today.

TICKET PROBLEMS: Japan's organizing committee blamed FIFA's ticketing agent for empty seats at the co-host's last game.

Junji Ogura, deputy general of Japan's organizing committee, blamed U.K.-based Byrom Consultants for 700 empty seats at Japan's 1-0 loss to Turkey. Byrom overestimated the number of seats with restricted viewing, he said.

"The existence of empty seats was a stab in the heart of the Japanese people," Ogura said. "This mistake was unacceptable. I am very, very angry."

ALL REPRESENTED: This is the first World Cup in which all five confederations have countries in the quarterfinals. England, Germany, Spain and Turkey are from Europe. The United States is from North and Central America. Brazil is from South America. And South Korea and Senegal are from Asia and Africa, respectively.

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