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Kewell hits out at refs after Australia exit

sports Updated: Jun 27, 2010 11:57 IST

AFP
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Australian striker Harry Kewell has claimed that international referees are biased against the less celebrated teams and that FIFA needs to do something about it.

In an interview for Australia's News Limited newspapers after the Socceroos' early exit from the World Cup, Kewell, who was shown a red card in the Group D clash against Ghana, said his country had been treated unfairly.

He said Australia had been on the end of six bad calls in seven World Cup matches, dating back to a foul on goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in their 2006 World Cup opener against Japan that went unpunished and led to a goal.

"What are FIFA doing about it when teams like us are getting hammered and the bigger teams don't?" he said.

"We've been told to play the game fair, and I think we do."

"Nothing against the bigger teams, but they're allowed to do it because of who and what they are."

In the wide-ranging interview, Kewell defended much-maligned coach Pim Verbeek, who has taken most of the blame for Australia tumbling out at the group stages in South Africa.

He conceded Verbeek was "rattled" after the opening 4-0 loss to Germany, but said he regrouped well for the two subsequent matches, the 1-1 draw with Ghana and the 2-1 win over the Serbs.

And he said if Australia had managed to squeeze into the next round, the Dutchman would have been a national hero.

"I do believe the Germany game rattled him and hit him for six," Kewell said.

"I think he was all over the shop for a bit, but he composed himself well enough for the Ghana game.

"We worked so hard and, to be fair, two decisions killed him. But he can walk away with his head held high.

"Everyone killed him after the Germany game but if he got through to the last 16, he would've been one of the greats. It's on a knife's edge."

The 31-year-old said Verbeek's only failing was to misread the mood of the Socceroos, who wanted to play an attacking game against Germany.

"We don't fare well in defensive organisation -- we go out there to try and run over teams and that's probably why Guus (Hiddink) had such a good stint," Kewell said.

"He let us off the leash and let us go wild."

"I'm not saying that Pim totally restricted us, but sometimes you need to gamble." Kewell said he was aiming to play on for Australia until the 2014 World Cup.