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Jung-hwan to Stay With Perugia

June 24, 2002

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PERUGIA, Italy (AP) _ All is forgiven between the South Korean player whose goal knocked Italy out of the World Cup and his Italian club.

Perugia, which had threatened to cut Ahn Jung-hwan from the roster, said Monday that the South Korean forward will stay with the team next season.

Perugia, which until now had Ahn on loan from K-League club Busan I.cons, has exercised its option and bought the player, club spokesman Paolo Giovagnoni said. The option was to expire at the end of the month.

Ahn has been with the Italian side since the start of the 2000-2001 season, spending most of the time on the bench.

His header in overtime lifted South Korea to a 2-1 upset victory over Italy last week, eliminating the three-time champions in the second round. Perugia owner Luciano Gaucci responded by telling Ahn he was not welcome back, calling him ``the ruin of Italian soccer.″

Gaucci’s words drew criticism around the world and threats from the Asian Football Confederation to tell all Asian players to stay away from Perugia.

But on Monday, the club said Gaucci’s statement had been ``an emotional reaction, a provocation.″

It said an agreement for Ahn to stay with Perugia was reached after a phone conversation Friday between Alessandro Gaucci, Perugia’s chief executive, and the player.

Financial details of the deal were not released.

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