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Italian TV may sue over Cup exit

ROME, Italy -- Italian state broadcaster RAI may take legal action against football's governing body FIFA to recover losses after Italy's early exit from the World Cup.

RAI is blaming refereeing errors for the team's 2-1 defeat against joint-tournament hosts South Korea. Italian media has even suggested behind-the-scenes pressure was brought to bare to keep the hosts in the competition.

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The Italian broadcaster bought the domestic television rights to broadcast the 2002 World Cup from Germany's KirchMedia for about $140 million. The deal also included 25 matches from the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Until the defeat, games involving the Italian team were attracting up to 20 million viewers and significant advertising revenue. RAI has instructed its legal department to consider constructing a case to show FIFA was responsible for the poor quality refereeing.

"(The case) would seek to have FIFA reimburse damages suffered by RAI following the exit of the Italian team from the World Cup on the basis of universally recognised refereeing errors, errors that were so blatant they could only be described as the product of serious fraud,'' the statement said.

But FIFA president Sepp Blatter, in an interview with Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday, said the Italians should stop being bad losers.

However, he added: "The refereeing has been the only negative aspect of this World Cup. The (linesmen) have been a disaster, especially when it comes to offside.''

On Tuesday Ecuadorean referee Byron Moreno gave co-hosts South Korea a penalty, disallowed an Italian goal and sent off Francesco Totti when the striker thought he should have been awarded a penalty.

"It was a scandal. The truth is he (the referee) had his mind set against us -- this was a desired elimination," said Totti.

"By who? I don't know -- there are things greater than me but the feeling is that they wanted us out."





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