Byron Moreno has stood by his handling of South Korea-Italy in 2002 and insists Giovanni Trapattoni was a ‘coward’ for not bringing on a striker.
Moreno remains a hate figure in Italy for sending off Francesco Totti and disallowing a perfectly-legitimate Azzurri equaliser during their 2-1 defeat to South Korea in the last 16 of the 2002 World Cup.
Several years later, the referee was given a 26-month prison sentence for attempting to smuggle 13kg of heroin into the US.
“I may have made some wrong decisions, but I have nothing to apologise for,” he told Futbol Sin Cassette.
“Maybe I could’ve sent off Totti with a single card, but there were two penalties for Korea, not one, in the same incident: there were fouls by Coco and Panucci. I only saw the second one.
“For that game, I’d give myself an 8. Coco’s blood was from contact with Gattuso and not a Korea player.
“As for the kick on Maldini’s head, there was lots of players in front of me so it was very difficult to see him.
“There wasn’t a penalty on Totti: I saw a Korean first touch the ball and then the player.
“I looked up, saw the assistant and we both thought it was a dive. Admittedly Italy’s offside goal should’ve been given, but how could I decide from where I was standing?
“The linesman had to tell me. He raised his flag and I went with it. When Totti was sent off, the Italians talked to me in Italian and I understood them because it’s similar to Spanish.
“No-one insulted me. I knew, however, that as soon as the game was over I’d go straight home...
“I asked to talk to Totti and Trapattoni after the game, but they didn’t want to. I didn’t damage Italy.
“Trapattoni was a coward, as always: I sent off Totti and he brought on Tommasi, so Del Piero was the only one capable of attacking.”