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IFC: Ref made six errors in favor of Italy

8/22/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- A Hungarian fencing referee was expelled
from the Olympics and suspended for two years Sunday after making
several errors during the gold-medal match in men's team foil.

Referee Joszef Hidasi made mistakes in six scoring decisions --
all in favor of Italy, said International Fencing Federation
spokesman Jochen Faerber. The Italians beat China 45-42 Saturday
night to win the gold medal.

Faerber said the result would stand.

"In our rules, it's clear that the referee's decision is the
referee's decision," Faerber said. "You cannot protest late."

Still, FIE president Rene Roch said in a news release that the
errors were "heavy and against the good reputation of our sport."

According to Faerber, Roch met with other fencing officials
after the match, and they decided video should be reviewed the next
day.

"Everyone who was sitting there was thinking, 'Something has
gone wrong here,'" Faerber said.

Faerber said the federation received a letter from Chinese
officials Sunday morning, but the decision to evaluate the match
had already been made. Faerber said China's complaints did not
trigger the investigation -- and that there is no mechanism for a
team to file a formal protest following a match.

"In our rules, that kind of thing doesn't exist," he said.

In team fencing, a match is divided into nine bouts, and players
rotate from bout to bout. The first bout ends when one team reaches
five points; the next pair of fencers are then brought in. The
second bout ends when one team reaches 10 points, and so on. The
match ends when a team reaches 45 points.

The federation said Hidasi's errors occurred in the second and
fifth bouts. Italy outscored China 8-2 in the second bout, and 5-2
in the fifth.

Hidasi "was a very good referee" in the individual portion of
the Olympic tournament, Faerber said. "But this was so obvious now
with these six mistakes" that action had to be taken.

Chinese fencing official Li Xin said he knew the results
wouldn't be changed by FIE. He said the team planned to appeal the
matter further.

China could appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but
the CAS does not like to get involved in matters of on-field
judgments.

Officials from the Italian Olympic Committee declined comment.

Fencing wasn't the only sport troubled by judging mistakes.

Gymnastics' governing body suspended three judges for errors in
scoring the parallel bars routine for South Korea's Yang Tae-young,
costing him the all-around gold medal that went to American Paul
Hamm. Yang ended up with the bronze. As in the fencing case, the
decision will stand.