Ex World Cup ref pleads not guilty in NY drug case

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

NEW YORK -- A former World Cup referee arrested in New York City has pleaded not guilty to heroin smuggling charges.

Prosecutors allege Byron Moreno was caught in September at Kennedy Airport with bags of heroin attached to his body. He appeared Wednesday in Brooklyn court.

Moreno made some controversial decisions in a 2002 second-round match in which South Korea eliminated Italy. Players and officials from Italy had long labeled his calls against them suspicious.

FIFA has said Moreno's arrest appears to be "completely unrelated" to the sport.

Moreno's next court date is Dec. 3.