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   June 20, 2002 | 1530 IST


Umit Davala
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FIFA says refs doing a very good job

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FIFA hit back on Thursday at critics of the standard of refereeing in this year's World Cup, saying the men in the middle had done a very good job.

Italy and Portugal have complained particularly loudly about decisions that they felt contributed to their early exit from the competition.

Italy, who were knocked out by co-hosts South Korea 2-1 after a golden goal in extra-time, said they had been victims of several poor decisions including the sending off of key striker Francesco Totti in the match and the ruling out of a goal for offside. The Ecuadorian referee was lampooned in the Italian press as unfit and "bug-eyed".

"We'll have to wait until the final to evaluate the whole tournament, but until now the referees in general have done a very good job," said Edgardo Codesal Mendez, a member of FIFA's referees' committee.

Codesal Mendez told a news conference that television replays always turn up mistakes. But he said referees do not have the benefit of cameras all round the ground and freeze-frame technology. They have to make split-second decisions based on what they see.

"They are human beings, they are not machines. From their point of view on the pitch they have only one angle of vision and things happen so fast for the human eye it's perhaps difficult to see everything.

"But in general we are very happy with the performances of the referees so far. There were very difficult games -- very tough games sometimes -- and the referees in the middle were very good. We're so glad about that."

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