Former Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni is hoping fans will look back on his reign more favourably after the arrest of former referee Byron Moreno in New York.
The Ecuadorean, blamed by Italian fans for the Azzurri’s elimination from the 2002 World Cup, was caught on Monday at John F. Kennedy Airport with bags of heroin, according to U.S. federal prosecutors. A judge jailed Moreno without bail on a drug smuggling charge.
Moreno sent off Francesco Totti for an alleged dive 13 minutes into extra-time in the second round of the 2002 World Cup, and South Korea went on to score a later winner.
“I saw even before going out onto the pitch against South Korea that it wasn’t going to go well with the referee,” Trapattoni said. “Now maybe Trapattoni’s reign on Italy’s bench will be read under a different light.”
“The facts now are so serious that they speak for themselves,” Trapattoni added.
Franco Carraro, an International Olympic Committee member and Italy’s football federation president at the time of the South Korea game, said the arrest proves 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.”
Ted Howard, the CONCACAF secretary general who serves on FIFA’s referees committee, said the committee likely would not look into the matter.
“It would be another body within FIFA,” he said. “We’re not really an investigative body.”
Nestor Benitez, spokesman for the South American governing body CONMEBOL, said Moreno’s arrest was a personal matter.
“Byron Moreno’s conduct is his own,” Benitez said. “It has nothing to do with football or CONMEBOL.”