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Crackers force apology from Euro 2004 Swiss ref

Goal outrage official's website hacked

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Crackers have broken into the website of Euro 2004 ref Urs Meier and posted a fake apology for a controversial ruling against England during a vital knockout game.

Meier's decision to disallow a headed goal by Sol Campbell in the closing minutes of England's quarter final against hosts Portugal made him a scapegoat in some circles for England's exit from the competition. Portugal went on to defeat England 6-5 on penalties, after the sides were deadlocked at 2-2 at the end of extra time.

The Swiss referee was placed under police protection after receiving more than 16,000 emails, including death threats, following England's 24 June defeat. Meier is shocked that his personal website was attacked.

"It's unbelievable - I really thought this whole story was over," Meier told Swiss newspaper Blick, Reuters reports.

The defaced website falsely quoted Meier as saying: "I took money from a senior UEFA official so that the hosts, Portugal, would stay in the tournament. I am really sorry, and after all that's happened I can no longer referee at this level. So I am retiring immediately."

Meier recently turned 45, making him too old to referee international matches but he's still some way from handing in his whistle. For example, he took charge of officiating Inter Milan's convincing 5-1 win over Valencia in the Champions League on Wednesday. ®

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