- WORLD CUP 2002

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Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Referee suspended for 20 matches

QUITO, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Ecuador's controversial World Cup referee Byron Moreno has been suspended for 20 matches and placed under investigation by the South American country's soccer authorities after his controversial handling of a first division match on Sunday.

The losing side, Barcelona of Guayaquil, conceded two goals near the end of the 13 minutes of injury time added by Moreno that allowed hosts Liga de Quito to win 4-3 and their president slammed the referee for allegedly mixing football and politics.

Barcelona president Leonardo Bohrer claimed that it was unethical for Moreno, a candidate in October elections for places on the Quito city council, to continue refereeing in the run-up to the poll and demanded his definitive suspension.

Moreno, who caused a major stir with some of his decisions in the World Cup second round match in which co-hosts South Korea upset Italy with a golden goal in June, could be struck off the register and banned from football for life.

'The refereeing and disciplinary commissions decided to suspend (Moreno) for 20 matches and open a probe to analyse the request... to strike him from the register of referees,' Ecuadorean Football Federation (FEF) president Luis Chiriboga said.


He said the refereeing commission were unhappy with Moreno's match report in which he allegedly gave false information on the minutes in which Liga de Quito scored the two late goals that gave them victory.

Moreno gave two hotly-disputed penalties, sent off two players and caused confusion by first awarding a goal and then disallowing it during the Liga de Quito-Barcelona derby.

He signalled six minutes of injury time but played 13, during which Liga de Quito scored twice - in the 99th and 101st minutes - to secure their 4-3 win.

'It's not ethical for him to continue being a referee, especially in a province in which he is a candidate,' said Bohrer.

'The supporters of Liga de Quito are voters in his province,' the official added.

Bohrer said Barcelona had asked the Ecuadorean Football Federation (FEF) to suspend Moreno indefinitely for his performances in the match against Liga de Quito.

FEF vice-president Carlos Villis said the refereeing commission would hold a 'wide-ranging and in-depth' meeting on the issue.

The FEF's website, which said it had received 'endless' e-mails from fans on the matter, said that Moreno had admitted an error and had added that 'it's human to make mistakes'.

Ecuadorean media, who backed Moreno during the World Cup when he was viciously criticised by Italy after their defeat, this time added to the flak.

'He's gone from hero to villain in three months,' said El Comercio, which demanded foreign referees for major matches. 'To avoid more problems, we recommend him to move away from football during his political campaign.'

An Italian fan has threatened to sue Moreno after he controversially sent off Francesco Totti and disallowed a Damiano Tomassi goal before South Korea beat Italy 2-1 with a golden goal in June's World Cup second round.


New row engulfs referee Moreno

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