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Italian fans deluge FIFA with wrathful e-mails

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 23, 2002

YOKOHAMA, Japan -- FIFA has received about 400,000 hateful e-mails from Italian fans irate over refereeing they say was to blame for their team's elimination.

FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper said some were "virulent, some quite abusive, some of them very threatening, some of them quite disturbing."

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

Italy complained about the officiating after it lost 2-1 to Croatia and after it was eliminated in a 2-1 overtime loss to South Korea.

Italy had two late goals disallowed on questionable calls against Croatia. Against South Korea, forward Francesco Totti received a second yellow card in overtime for what the referee believed was a dive, leaving Italy short-handed.

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

Cooper said he responded to several of the e-mails, including one from a man "who suggested I perish as rapidly as possible."

FINANCIAL INCENTIVE: Before Saturday's game against Senegal, the president of Turkey's soccer federation denied reports he'll give blank checks to players for reaching the quarterfinals.

Some sort of reward is likely, though, he said.

"We know that our players are not playing for money," Haluk Ulusoy said. "But we will, of course, try to give them a bonus."

The federation deposited $75,000 in the bank account of each player after the team reached the second round.

Also, bridges have been named after Umit Davala and Hasan Sas, two of its scorers.

MORE IMPORTANT BUSINESS: The start of the second day of the European Union summit in Seville, Spain, was delayed for an hour so the 15 leaders and many hundreds of diplomats and journalists could watch the Spain-South Korea game.

"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."

GERMAN APPEAL: Germany has appealed to annul the yellow card given to striker Oliver Neuville in the victory against the United States.

The foul was committed by midfielder Jens Jeremies but was attributed to Neuville, the team said.

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