Monday May 6 2019
Korea-Italy ref speaks out

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.”

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