Byron Moreno

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Byron Moreno
Full name Byron Aldemar Moreno Ruales
Born (1969-11-23) November 23, 1969 (age 46)
Quito, Ecuador
Years League Role
0000–2003 Serie A Referee
Years League Role
1996–2003 FIFA listed Referee

Byron Aldemar Moreno Ruales (born November 23, 1969) is a former Ecuadorian football referee.

Italy vs South Korea[edit]

Moreno was widely blamed by the Italian community for Italy's elimination from the 2002 FIFA World Cup after being beaten by South Korea in the Round of 16. Members of the Italian team, most notably striker Francesco Totti and coach Giovanni Trapattoni, suggested a conspiracy to eliminate Italy from the competition.[1] Trapattoni even obliquely accused FIFA of ordering the official to ensure a Korean victory so that one of the two host nations would remain in the tournament.[2] The most contentious decisions were an early penalty awarded to South Korea, a golden goal by Damiano Tommasi ruled offside, and a second yellow card shown to Totti for an alleged dive.[3]

FIFA response[edit]

FIFA President Sepp Blatter stated that the linesmen had been a "disaster" and admitted that Italy suffered from bad offside calls from the group matches, but he denied conspiracy allegations. While ruling Totti's sending off by Moreno, Blatter refused to blame Italy's loss on Moreno but stated: "Italy's elimination is not only down to referees and linesmen who made human not premeditated errors ... Italy made mistakes both in defense and in attack."[4]

After the 2002 World Cup[edit]

In September 2002, Moreno, while a candidate in October elections for places on the Quito city council, was suspended for twenty matches[5] and investigated by Ecuadorian football authorities and FIFA[6] after a match he officiated between Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito and Barcelona Sporting Club from Guayaquil. With Liga de Quito trailing 3–2 at the end of the match, Moreno signalled six minutes of injury time, then allowed play to continue for thirteen minutes, during which Liga de Quito scored an equaliser in the 99th minute, then won the game in the 101st minute. Moreno was also accused of falsifying the minutes in which Liga de Quito scored their equalising and winning goals in his official match report.

In May 2003, in his third game back from his suspension, Moreno was again suspended, for one match, after he sent off three players from visiting Deportivo Quito in a 1–1 draw at Deportivo Cuenca.[7] He retired the following month, blaming low performance marks for his retirement. Even after all this, he is still regarded as one of the worst referees to have ever been in the World Cup.[8]

Criminal records[edit]

Moreno was arrested on September 21, 2010 at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, while trying to smuggle in six kilograms (over ten pounds) of heroin, which was hidden in his underwear.[9] In January 2011, he pleaded guilty to the charges in a New York courthouse, facing a possible ten years in prison.[10] On September 23, 2011, Moreno was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on the heroin smuggling charges.[11] He was released from prison 26 months later and returned to Ecuador.[12]


  1. ^ "Angry Italy blame 'conspiracy'". Soccernet. 2002-06-19. Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  2. ^ "Lay Off the Refs". Time. 2002-06-24. Retrieved 2010-04-28.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  3. ^ "Fifa investigates Moreno". BBC News. 2002-09-13. 
  4. ^ "Blatter condemns officials". BBC News. 2002-06-20. 
  5. ^ "Referee suspended for 20 matches". Soccernet. 2002-09-11. Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  6. ^ "FIFA investigates Moreno". Soccernet. 2002-09-13. Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  7. ^ "Controversial ref suspended again". The New Zealand Herald. 2003-05-23. Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  8. ^ "Ecuador ref Moreno complains at low marks". Sports Illustrated. 2003-06-10. Archived from the original on 2003-10-16. Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  9. ^ "L'arbitro che eliminò l'Italia da Corea 2002 arrestato a New York con sei chili di eroina". La Repubblica. 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  10. ^ Ex-Referee Byron Moreno Pleads Guilty To Heroin Smuggling
  11. ^ Ex-referee sentenced to 2½ years
  12. ^ "Byron Moreno enfrenta otra indagación"

External links[edit]