Sunday, June 23, 2002

EU Summit delayed because of World Cup

World Cup Notebook

AP Sports Writer

        YOKOHAMA, Japan — FIFA has received about 400,000 hateful e-mails from Italy fans irate over refereeing they say was to blame for their team's elimination from the World Cup.

        FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper said some of the e-mail was “virulent, some quite abusive, some of them very threatening, some of them quite disturbing.”

        The Internet traffic was so great that it crashed FIFA's e-mail system server, he said Saturday.

        The Italians complained about the officiating after they lost 2-1 to Croatia, then after they were knocked out of the tournament in a 2-1 overtime loss to South Korea.

        Italy had two late goals disallowed on questionable calls in the game against Croatia. Against the South Koreans, forward Francesco Totti received a second yellow card for what the referee thought was a dive in the penalty box in overtime, leaving the Italians short-handed.

        FIFA president Sepp Blatter has denied any conspiracy, but acknowledged that some bad calls had been made.

        Cooper said he responded to several of the angry e-mails, including one from a man “who suggested I perish as rapidly as possible.”


        IMPORTANT BUSINESS: The start of the second day of the European Union summit in Seville, Spain, was delayed for an hour Saturday so the 15 leaders and many hundreds of diplomats and journalists could watch summit host Spain play South Korea in a World Cup quarterfinal.

        “The Spanish told all delegations on Friday night the summit would not resume on Saturday until 10 a.m.,” EU spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said.

        “They gave no reason, but I think you can figure this out.”

        The Spain-South Korea game was shown live on scores of televisions in the sprawling convention center where Spanish Prime Minister Jose-Maria Aznar held the midyear EU summit.

        After scoreless regulation and extra time periods, South Korea defeated Spain 5-3 on penalty kicks.


        A KOREAN CENTURY: Midfielder Yoo Sang-Chul earned his 100th cap for South Korea on Saturday, when he was in the starting lineup against Spain. He became the fourth South Korean with 100 international appearances, following Cha Bum-kun, Hong Myung-bo and Hwang Sun-hong. In the game, South Korea beat Spain 5-3 on penalty kicks after a scoreless tie.


        RIVALDO SAYS HE'S STAYING: Brazilian star Rivaldo said Saturday that he is “very comfortable” playing at Spain's FC Barcelona and isn't interested in changing clubs.

        “I have a year left on my contract and I plan to honor it,” he told reporters before Brazil traveled to Saitama, Japan, where on Wednesday the team will play in the World Cup semifinals against Turkey.

        Several teams are reportedly interested in the 30-year-old forward, who won FIFA's World Soccer Player of the Year award in 1999, including Italy's Lazio and England's Arsenal and Newcastle clubs.

        Rivaldo, reportedly one of the best-paid players in Spain with an estimated $6 million salary, is tied for the top scorer at this year's World Cup with five goals, along with teammate Ronaldo and Germany's Miroslav Klose.


        GERMAN APPEAL: Germany has appealed to FIFA to annul the yellow card given to striker Oliver Neuville in Friday's 1-0 quarterfinal win against the United States.

        The foul was committed by midfielder Jens Jeremies but was wrongly attributed to Neuville by Scottish referee Hugh Dallas, the team said.


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