FIFA says it has no intention of investigating a former World Cup referee arrested this week on a drug smuggling charge.
Byron Moreno, who made some controversial decisions in the 2002 second-round match in which South Korea eliminated Italy, was caught on Monday at John F. Kennedy Airport with bags of heroin attached to his body, according to U.S. federal prosecutors.
Italy players and officials had long complained about his performance during the defeat to South Kora, and some reiterated their concerms again this week.
“The arrest of Byron Moreno appears to be completely unrelated to football,” FIFA said in a statement on Thursday to The Associated Press. “Mr. Moreno is not an international referee since several years now. At the time of writing, no investigation is foreseen from (the) FIFA side.”
His lawyer, Michael Padden, said on Thursday that Moreno would not address questions about his decisions in the South Korea-Italy match.
“Under the current circumstances, Mr. Moreno will not be making any public statements about any subject,” Padden said .
Franco Carraro, an International Olympic Committee member and the president of the Italian football federation in 2002, said the arrest demonstrated Moreno had problems.
“I fear that drugs didn’t have much to do with what Moreno did in the 2002 Italy-South Korea game,” Carraro said. “His refereeing was atrocious, perhaps for inability, but more probably for other reasons.”
FIFA investigated Moreno in September 2002 after a match in Ecuador in which he added 13 minutes of stoppage time without registering it. Moreno was suspended for 20 matches by Ecuadorean authorities, but FIFA closed its probe the following January saying there was no proof of any violation of FIFA regulations “from a disciplinary perspective.”