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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 1, 2007

Valderrama expelled from match for ref taunt

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombian soccer star Carlos Valderrama was known for his voluminous hair as well as his deft passing. Add inflamatory taunts to the list.

As the assistant coach of Atletico Junior, Valderrama was ejected from a Colombian league match Wednesday after waving cash in the face of a referee for calling a penalty that helped end his team's hopes of qualifying for the playoffs.

The incident, condemned Thursday by Colombia's soccer federation, touched off riots that injured 10 fans and resulted in the arrests of at least a dozen more in Junior's stadium in the Caribbean city of Barranquilla.

The bushy-haired Valderrama lost his temper after referee Oscar Julian Ruiz called a penalty against Junior in the final minutes of the first half, in which Junior was leading America of Cali 1-0.

After Jorge Rojas converted the kick for America, Valderrama rushed from the sideline and began shouting obscenities at Ruiz, eventually pulling from his pocket a 50,000 peso ($25) bill he used to taunt the referee for allegedly taking bribes from the visiting squad.

An irate Valderrama, who captained Colombia at three World Cups during its heyday last decade, was escorted off the field by a dozen riot police while Junior's fans attacked America's supporters with sticks and other debris.

America went on to win 3-1, ending Junior's chances of qualifying for the league's eight-team playoffs.

Valderrama was unrepentant following the match, calling Ruiz a "thief" and saying he stole the match from Junior.

Ruiz, the only Colombian referee used in the 2006 World Cup, was shocked by Valderrama's actions.

"Carlos is my idol, but his behavior really surprised me," Ruiz said.