| "Daily Telegraph", respecto de Espa√Īa v. Corea || Jun 24, 2002 |
\"Daily Telegraph\", normalmente no amigo de Espa√Īa (acerca Gibralt√°r, por ejemplo), hoy public√≥ lo siguente:
Korean miracle spoilt by refereeing farce
By Paul Hayward (Filed: 23/06/2002)
Warning: do not cheer for South Korea. They have no right to be in a World Cup semi-final. Spain should be playing Germany in Seoul. The records say that the Koreans knocked out Spain in a penalty shoot-out in Gwangju on Saturday. The records are a lie and this tournament has descended into farce.
Pointing the finger: Egyptian referee Gamal Ghandour (left) argues with Spanish manager Jose Camacho
FIFA are asking a global audience to accept that human error was to blame for Spain having two legitimate goals disallowed in a match that was an affront to sport. The Spanish have gone home fulminating even more wildly than the Italians, whose supporters bombarded the game\'s governing body with 400,000 e-mails objecting to the refereeing in the South Korea-Italy second-round match. This is not the time to be pointing out that Italian football itself is a cauldron of conspiracies. This is the moment to declare oneself a temporary German and pray that South Korea are ejected tomorrow night.
\"What happened here was robbery,\" insisted Spain\'s Ivan Helguera, who had to be pulled away from Gamal Ghandour, the Egyptian referee. Ghandour conforms to FIFA\'s pattern of appointing officials from minor footballing nations to run big games. The party line is that the refereeing team should be multi-national. This renders it anti-meritocratic and elevates obscure officials who may be more eager to impress or please their employers than, say, an elite European referee. Behind the veil of political correctness, the officiating at this World Cup is a shambles.
Whatever the politics, the outcome is that Ghandour inexplicably waved away a goal after a Spanish free kick hit Korea\'s Kim Tae-young on the back of the head and bounced into the net. There was no pushing, no holding and no offside. Then, three minutes into extra time, Michael Ragoonath, a linesman from Trinidad, raised his flag as Spain\'s Joaquin was crossing a ball on to the head of Fernando Morientes for what should have been a golden goal. Ragoonath was presumably the only man in Asia who thought the ball had crossed the line before Joaquin unleashed his cross. There was a pattern, too, of Spanish forwards being called offside when they were either level with, or on the correct side of, Korean defenders.
\"Everyone saw two perfectly good goals. If Spain didn\'t win, it\'s because they didn\'t want us to win,\" Helguera said. \"I feel terrible about this game.\" Back home, a bonfire of indignation was torched. Both Spanish sports dailies led with the headline: Robbed. One - Marca - called the officials \"thieves of dreams\" and claimed \"the flower is stained\". AS, Marca\'s rival, thundered: \"We did not deserve this. Not the Spanish, not lovers of football.\" In Argentina, La Nacion wrote: \"This World Cup should be declared null and void.\"
There is more at play, here, than the embarrassment of big countries bundled out by the small. The main Italian grievance was the dismissal of their best player, Francesco Totti, for diving when the replay showed that he had made contact with Song Chong-gug, the Korean defender. The allegation, plainly, is that officials are favouring South Korea in a tournament that was set up as a showcase for Asian football. FIFA deny this vehemently, though an intriguing subtext is the attempt by Sepp Blatter, the organisation\'s president, to distance himself from the many flagrant errors. Blatter called some of the linesmen in Japan and South Korea \"a disaster\". Significantly, FIFA yesterday appointed two front-rank Europeans, Urs Meier and Kim Milton Nielsen, to take charge of the semi-finals.
Keith Cooper, FIFA\'s director of communications, denounced the conspiracy theories humming round this World Cup as \"pathetic\" and quoted Senes Erzik, the chairman of the refereeing committee, thus: \"Conspiracy theories crop up in all walks of life and in 99 per cent of cases they are unfounded. This is one of the 99 per cent.\" But Oliver Kahn, Germany\'s goalkeeper, revealed some of the anxieties now afflicting South Korea\'s next opponents. \"We may have one or two refereeing decisions against us. That\'s normal,\" Kahn said. \"It\'s called home advantage.\"
What\'s not normal is to have the outcome of a multi-million pound sporting event determined by a series of abject and baffling decisions which render the final score a travesty. The Spain-South Korea result was the most objectionable in recent World Cup history. It left a rancid smell over the semi-finals and destroyed what romance there is in South Korea\'s unlikely march to the penultimate round. Now, no one with a conscience can take pleasure from observing the happy hell that the Red Devils have created for themselves in their stadiums.
Disgracefully, Korean TV airbrushed out the many outrages from Saturday\'s match, and kept their cameras fixed instead on the disturbing smirk of Guus Hiddink, South Korea\'s coach. Their coverage was more appropriate to communist North Korea, and was an apology for TV journalism. Yesterday morning, the Korean daily, Chosun Ilbo, chirped: \"How can we forget these moments and these feelings. It is no longer a miracle.\" You can say that again.
| || || |