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Latin American Roundup

Ecuador ref Moreno complains at low marks

Posted: Tuesday June 10, 2003 5:55 PM
Updated: Tuesday June 10, 2003 5:56 PM

QUITO (Reuters) -- Ecuador's controversial World Cup referee Byron Moreno, who quit last week at the age of 36, has blamed his retirement on what he thought were unreasonably low marks for his performances.

"I deserved better marks and I feel that way because I think I've been doing a good job," said Moreno, who has served two domestic suspensions since last year's World Cup when he refereed the second-round tie between Italy and South Korea.

"With these marks, it will be difficult for me to get back my FIFA badge, that's why retiring is my best choice," he was quoted as saying by the Ecuadorean Football Federation (FEF) on Tuesday.

"I'm leaving through the front door with my head held high," he added. "I prefer to die standing up than to live kneeling down."

Moreno became the center of attention when he sent off Italian striker Francisco Totti and disallowed an Italian goal during their 2-1 golden goal defeat at the World Cup.

Italians were outraged but Ecuadoreans stood by Moreno, who was given a standing ovation when he took charge of his first domestic fixture after the tournament.

However, in September, Moreno was handed a 20-match domestic ban after adding on 12 minutes of injury time during a match between Liga de Quito and Barcelona. The home team took advantage and scored in the 99th and 101st minutes to win 4-3.

Moreno, who at the time was a candidate in elections for Quito's city council, was accused by Barcelona of mixing sport and politics.

Moreno returned in May but was given another one-match ban after sending off three Deportivo Quito players during their match at Deportivo Cuenca.

Boca, America hit by injuries and suspensions

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -- Boca Juniors and America have been hit by a spate of injuries and suspensions before the first leg of their Libertadores Cup semifinal on Wednesday.

Boca, Argentina's most popular club and four-times winners of the South American equivalent of the Champions League, are without injured defender Diego Crosa and striker Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

Colombians America, aiming to reach their fifth Libertadores final after losing their previous four, have defender Kilian Virviescas and midfielder Luis Asprilla suspended after they were both sent off in their stormy 4-1 quarter-final second leg win against River Plate.

Midfielder Jorge Banguero is also missing through injury, striker Jairo Castillo is doubtful while coach Fernando Castro will have to watch from the stands.

Castro, a disciple of former Argentina coach Carlos Bilardo, has been banned for three matches after kicking the ball away and then pulling an opponent's hair during the River Plate game.

Schelotto, the favorite of the Boca fans, is an important absentee for Argentina's most popular club.

Schelotto, who torments defenders with his slippery skills and persistent niggling, is the team's top scorer in the competition with six goals including a hat-trick away to Paysandu of Brazil in a second-round tie.

The good news for Boca is that striker Carlos Tevez has made a faster than expected recovery from a knee injury he collected in the Argentine derby against River 10 days ago and could play.

Coach Ferretti leaves Mexico's Tigres

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -- Volatile Brazilian coach Ricardo Ferretti has left Mexican club UNL following their semi-final defeat in the Clausura championship, club president Alejandro Rodriguez said.

The 49-year-old coach and the Monterrey-based club known as the Tigres (Tigers) parted company by mutual consent, Rodriguez told reporters.

"Ricardo and the club have decided to terminate his work," Rodriguez said.

Ferretti had been in charge of the club for three years -- an eternity in the volatile world of Mexican soccer coaching -- and led them in six championships, reaching the so-called "Liguilla," the knockout stages, three times.

Two championships are played every year in Mexico -- the Apertura and the Clausura.

UNL suffered a painful 5-3 aggregate defeat in their semifinal against arch-rivals Monterrey, who play Morelia in the two-leg final which starts Wednesday.

Romario regrets Qatar move despite windfall

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) -- Veteran Brazilian striker Romario spoke of his regret on Monday of his move to Qatar where he spent three months, was paid $1.2 million, played three games and failed to score a goal.

"If I'd known it was going to be so bad, I wouldn't have gone," he told reporters after arriving at Rio de Janeiro airport to re-sign for Fluminense.

The former Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven and Valencia striker, who says he still hopes to score 1,000 goals in his career and emulate Pele's achievement, said his stint with Al Sadd had set him back considerably.

"Professionally, it was not a positive season," he said.

"I lost sight of my target, which is to get to the 1,000 goals mark."

Romario was given a rousing reception when he arrived in Qatar at the end of February but his problems began when was blocked from playing in the Asian Champions League because he had not been registered in time.

He then fell out with the team coach who wanted Romario to change his style of play -- which basically involves lurking in the opposition's penalty area and waiting for the ball.

"My problem was the coach, everything else was perfect," he said.

Enjoyed privileges

Romario led Fluminense to the semi-finals of last year's Brazilian championship, scoring 12 goals in the process, and had signed a new one-year contract at the start of this year before being tempted by the offer from Qatar.

During his first spell at Fluminense, Romario, who scored five goals in Brazil's victorious 1994 World Cup campaign, enjoyed much-publicized privileges.

He was allowed his own physiotherapist, traveled separately away games, often arriving only one hour before kickoff, was excused practice on the days after games and often trained alone.

Fluminense are 12th in the 24-team Brazilian championship one quarter of the way in the competition.

Romario said he wanted to play in Saturday's match at home to table-propping Goias but admitted that he faced an almost impossible task in finishing as top-scorer, having given Sao Paulo's Luis Fabiano an 11-goal headstart.

"Wherever I go, I always say I want to be champion and top-scorer but in this case, being top-scorer looks more difficult that winning the title," he said.

Romario calculates that he has scored 864 goals in his career, though this total is open to debate as it is believed to include youth matches before he turned professional.

Related information
Americas: Boca Juniors regains lead in Argentina
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