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   June 20, 2002 | 1130 IST


Umit Davala
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Perugia reaction is childish

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South Korea coach Guus Hiddink has called the chairman of Italian club Perugia "childish" for his decision to sack striker Ahn Jung-hwan.

Luciano Gaucci said he would no longer employ Ahn whose golden goal eliminated Italy from the World Cup on Tuesday and put South Korea into the last eight.

"It's a childish reaction," Guus Hiddink told reporters at a training session on Thursday.

"You have to think of sports, and sports means players are all playing in different countries," the Dutchman said.

"If there's England-France, do they say to (Frank) Leboeuf, do they say to (Marcel) Desailly, they cannot score against England in the corner kick? It's almost too ridiculous to talk about."

FIFA said on Thursday it would not intervene in the decision by Perugia to sack Ahn after he scored the 116th-minute goal that put South Korea into the quarter-finals.

"It's between the player and the club," FIFA communications director Keith Cooper told a news conference. "It's not for us to interfere. No one has complained to us."

Italy reacted with fury to the team's shock 2-1 elimination in the second round by the co-hosts.

They accused Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno of playing a role in the defeat by showing playmaker Francesco Totti a red card, a call which prompted coach Giovanni Trapattoni to punch the glass behind the team bench towards a FIFA official standing on the opposite side of it.

As the squad prepared to leave South Korea on Thursday, local media said players refused to sign autographs for fans at the airport.

Perugia's Gaucci told sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport that Ahn would never set foot in Perugia again.

"He was a phenomenon only when he played against Italy. I am a nationalist and I regard such behaviour not only as an affront to Italian pride but also an offence to a country which two years ago opened its doors to him," he said.

"I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian soccer."

Ahn has been on loan to Perugia from South Korean club side Pusan I-cons since 2000 but struggled for a regular place in the team this season.

Even before the shock win over Italy, media report has suggested that Ahn would probably be released by Perugia, with English and German clubs among those interested in signing him.

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