Blatter issues "conspiracy" denial


FIFA president Sepp Blatter today issued a statement denying there was any conspiracy to keep South Korea in the World Cup.

The idea of a conspiracy theory favouring the co-hosts has gathered momentum since Korea put both Italy and Spain out of the tournament in extremely controversial fashion.

But Blatter's statement read: "Ongoing rumours require me to reiterate the following - 1 - The final of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea Japan will be held in Yokohama on 30th June at 8pm (local time), as per the match schedule.

"2 - Any allegations of a conspiracy in favour of Korea Republic are dismissed in their entirety."

The remarkable step to release a statement publicly denying the stories shows how high feelings have been running since the shock exits of Spain and Italy.

In the second round, Korea beat Italy with a golden goal after the Azzurri had an extra-time effort disallowed and Francesco Totti sent off.

Korea triumphed against Spain on Saturday in a penalty shoot-out, but not before the Spaniards had two goals ruled out in the quarter-final clash.

On the second effort, replays clearly showed the ball had not gone out before it was crossed for Fernando Morientes to head home what would have been a golden goal.

There have been a string of controversial refereeing decisions during the tournament, but the fact they have favoured the co-hosts so much have set tongues wagging.

Blatter's statement would appear to be an attempt to draw a line under the matter.