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'Prendy' denies apology claims

By Nodley Wright, Staff Reporter


JAMAICAN REFEREE Peter Prendergast yesterday dismissed claims by former Belgian captain Marc Wilmots that he had apologised for an error made in a second round match in which Brazil defeated Belgium 2-0.

Wilmots had put the ball in the back of the net in the 36th minute but Prendergast ruled the Belgian had fouled Brazilian defender Rocque Junior before heading the ball past goalkeeper Marcos. In a number of reports which appeared later that day, Wilmots stated an apology issued to him by Prendergast was no consolation.

"At halftime, the referee came up to me and said 'sorry'," explained Wilmots who made his debut against Romania in May 1990 and scored 28 goals in 70 matches.

"He had seen the incident again on TV and admitted he got it wrong but this is no consolation to me," Wilmots, who subsequently announced his resignation from international football, was quoted as saying.

"I knew straightaway that I had not done anything wrong. But it is another example of how the big teams always seem to have the luck on their sides," Wilmots continued.

Responded Prendergast: "This Wilmots' claim is outrageous to say the least".

Far from being repentant, Prendergast stood by his decision which he said was backed fully by the FIFA Referees Committee.

"The decision I made regarding that disallowed goal in the Brazil/Belgium game was fully endorsed as the correct decision by FIFA Referees Committee," said the man who is the first Jamaican referee to officiate at the World Cup finals. He is also the first Caribbean referee to do more than one match at the finals.

"The television replay from directly behind the goal clearly showed that the Belgian player pushed the Brazilian player from behind before heading the ball in the goal," he said.

It was also pointed out by Prendergast that the infringement committed by Wilmots was a push which did not take place at the time of heading the ball but "just before in order to get enough space for the header".

What was also clear from the reviews done of the game, Prendergast said, was that "the whistle was blown before the ball entered the net".

As if to confirm their satisfaction with his performance, Prendergast who got high marks for his first game involving Russia and Tunisia said his marks for his second game "were even more".

However, Prendergast was not among the 16 referees and 16 assistant referees chosen for the remaining finals games.

A Go-Jamaica feature