IFC: Ref made six errors in favor of Italy

Updated: August 22, 2004, 9:04 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press