Referee Ibrahim Chaibou of Niger has been handed a lifetime ban for taking bribes, world football’s ruling body FIFA said on Thursday.
FIFA also fined Chaibu 177,000 euros ($226,000) and barred the 52-year-old from all soccer-related activity for life.
“Mr Chaibou has been banned for life from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level,” FIFA’s independent Ethics Committee said in a statement on Thursday.
Chaibou famously handed out several penalties in a 2010 friendly match between South Africa and Guatemala where gambling patterns sparked an official probe.
A football referee in England has been suspended for three weeks after it emerged he had abandoned the standard pre-match coin toss ahead of a Women’s Super League match in favour of a game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’.
The Football Association announced Thursday that referee David McNamara had accepted a charge of “not acting in the best interests of the game” prior to a WSL match between Manchester City and Reading last month.
Under the laws of football, a referee must conduct a coin toss between the two captains to decide which team kicks off.
But instead, it has been reported that McNamara, after leaving his coin in the changing room, invited City captain Steph Houghton and Reading skipper Kirsty Pearce to participate in the child’s game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ instead.
“The FA can confirm that referee David McNamara has been suspended for 21 days, starting from Monday 26 November, after accepting a charge of ‘not acting in the best interests of the game’,” an FA spokesperson said Thursday.
“This follows an incident in the WSL match between Manchester City and Reading on Friday 26 October, when he failed to determine which team would kick off the match by the toss of a coin, as required by the laws of the game.
“McNamara will return to duty from Monday 17 December.”
Serbia’s coach has reacted to his team’s World Cup defeat to Switzerland by calling for the referee to be put on trial in the Hague, in a reference to the war crimes tribunal for the ex-Yugoslavia.
Serbia were furious when German referee Felix Brych failed to award a penalty in Friday’s game after Aleksandar Mitrovic was wrestled to the ground in the penalty area by Swiss defenders Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schaer.
Despite opening the scoring through Mitrovic in the fifth minute, Serbia lost 2-1 after Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri netted for Switzerland.
“We were robbed,” Mladen Krstajic told Serbian reporters on Saturday, when asked about Brych’s decision.
“I wouldn’t give him either a yellow or red card, I would send him to the Hague. Then they could put him on trial, like they did to us.”
The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is a UN body that prosecutes the perpetrators of war crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
Krstajic also posted photographs from the match on his Instagram account, accompanied by the comment: “Unfortunately, it seems that only the Serbs are condemned to a selective justice, once (it was) the Hague and today in football the VAR…”
He was referring to the video assistant referee that is being used in the World Cup to check controversial incidents, but was not used on this occasion.
The match in Kaliningrad was played in a febrile atmosphere underpinned by Balkan politics because Xhaka and Shaqiri have roots in Kosovo, a former province of Serbia that has declared independence in a move not recognised by Belgrade.
Both players pointedly celebrated their goals by making a double eagle gesture with their hands to represent the Albanian flag, with which many people in Kosovo identify.
The controversial VAR, video assistant refereeing system, will make its World Cup debut at Russia 2018.
After experiments in different FIFA tournaments, Serie A in Italy and the German Bundesliga this season, the principle is now well known in most countries.
VAR can be used in four scenarios — after a goal has been scored, for penalty decisions, red card decisions or for a case of mistaken identity of a player who has been booked or sent off.
“It’s about avoiding major and obvious mistakes, not refereeing with technology, the goal has never been to check every minor incident,” explained Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, during a VAR training programme organised at the Italian national training centre at Coverciano near Florence.
In Russia, 13 referees will officiate exclusively by watching the control screens. And some of the 35 referees selected to officiate on the pitch will also move into the role of video referees for one or more matches.
“VAR can be our best friend, it’s no longer possible to make a crucial error,” said Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers.
The main sticking point remains the inexperience of some of the referees who have rarely got to use the new technology before the World Cup.
“All the referees involved have participated in numerous tournaments where video assistance has been used,” insisted French referee Clement Turpin to AFP.
How does it work?
Behind VAR, there will be the VOR — Video Operation Room — where the numerous assistants will be seated, along with four technical operators.
“There will be four video officials. The main VAR communicates with the central referee and can suggest whether he should come and check footage,” explained Roberto Rosetti, in charge of VAR for FIFA.
“The VAR assistant No.1 follows the match live, the No.2 deals specifically with offsides and a third assistant is responsible for supporting the main VAR, to verify the respect of protocol and ensure good communication between the team,” added the Italian.
FIFA will have a single operational centre — as is the case in the Bundesliga — which will be installed in Moscow and connected to all stadiums via a fibre optic network.
Collina — formerly considered one of the world’s finest referees — also stressed that VAR officials would never have to cover more than one match a day.
“I was asked why the VARs would have to wear a referees’ kit. It’s because they sweat like they do on the pitch, it’s not like watching a game on the couch while drinking coffee,” said the 58-year-old.
The question of offside decisions remains extremely complex.
“It all happens so fast, that now we can say: ‘If I really have a doubt, I let the player go and if he scores, we’ll check the video’. It removes pressure,” said French assistant referee Cyril Gringore.
Two additional cameras will be used at the World Cup, exclusively dedicated to offside decisions. They will be “installed at a height to reinforce an area that, despite the 33 cameras used by broadcasters, was not covered optimally”, explained Sebastian Runge, head of FIFA’s Technology Innovation Group.
In all cases, messages will be broadcast on giant screens in stadiums so spectators can see what decision is reached by VAR: goal, no goal, offside.
But no replays will be shown until the on-pitch referee has made his decision.
“No slow motion will be broadcast before the decision is made, we don’t want the referee to be influenced by the crowd,” added Runge.
The Saudi Football Federation has banned referee Fahad al-Mirdasi for life over bribery and urged FIFA to remove him from the pool of referees for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Mirdasi was suspended after admitting offering to take a bribe to influence the outcome of a match, the federation’s disciplinary and ethics committee said late Tuesday.
The 32-year-old is one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent referees, having earned a FIFA badge in 2011 and officiating at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 and the Confederations Cup in Russia in 2017.
In a statement to AFP, FIFA said it was looking at the case and seeking more information.
“FIFA notes the information that referee Fahad Al Mirdasi has allegedly been banned for life from all football-related activities by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF),” it said.
“FIFA has requested more information from the SAFF before making any further comments.”
Mirdasi was chosen to referee Saudi Arabia’s Kings Cup final between top clubs Al-Faisaly and Al-Ittihad on Saturday but was pulled from the roster just a few hours before the game.
In a statement, the disciplinary and ethics committee said Mirdasi had approached the president of Al-Ittihad asking him for a bribe to enable his team to win.
“The Ittihad president Hamad Al-Sanayeh called the Saudi Football Federation to state there was evidence that Fahad Al-Mirdasi had reached out via text messages on WhatsApp. He asked for an illegal sum of money in exchange for helping his team win the game,” it said.
The case was referred to the Saudi Football Federation, then the General Authority for Sport — the highest sports authority in the kingdom — triggering an administrative investigation.
Mirdasi confessed to the charges, according to the statement, and it was decided “to deprive him from participating in any football activity for life”.
The committee recommended that Saudi Arabia officially request FIFA to remove Mirdasi from the list of referees participating in the 2018 World Cup and suspend him for life.
“Our integrity is above all considerations,” said Turki Al-Sheikh, head of the General Authority for Sport.
Mirdasi was one of five Arab referees chosen by FIFA to officiate at the 2018 World Cup.
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon insists he has no regrets about his outburst against the referee who awarded the late penalty that put Real Madrid into the Champions League semi-finals.
“I’d say them all again. Maybe with a different type of language, one that was more civilised, let’s say. But the content remains and I stand by all of it,” Buffon told Italian television programme “Le Iene”.
Buffon was sent off for dissent in the final minute of the quarter-final, second leg in Madrid after confronting English referee Michael Oliver over his decision to award the hosts a penalty in time added-on.
The 40-year-old has come under fire for his post-match rant in which he called Oliver “a murderer” with “a rubbish bin” in place of a heart.
“I have to defend my teammates and fans, even in a not very composed fashion. I had to let that out, even if it damaged my reputation.
“You find a way to speak, right or wrong, that at times can seem excessive, but this is me, I am Gigi Buffon,” he continued.
Buffon said his words were of “a man who won’t hide behind a veil of hypocrisy and instead throws out what is bubbling in his guts. End of story.”
And the Italian legend said he still believes that 33-year-old referee Oliver lacked experience.
“A referee with more experience would not have blown his whistle and decided not to become the protagonist of the match. He would have left it running, turned around and let the two teams fight it out in extra time. Let the pitch do the talking.
“I’m sure Oliver will have a great career in future, but he’s too young to officiate a match like that.”
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola blasted Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz and lamented decisions that cost his side dear after a 2-1 home defeat by Liverpool on Tuesday sealed a 5-1 aggregate Champions League quarter-final win for the five-time European champions.
Guardiola was forced to watch the second half from the stands after being sent off for his protestations at the break as free-spending City’s dreams of conquering the Champions League for the first time were dashed for another season.
City led 1-0 on the night at that stage after Gabriel Jesus’s second-minute opener, but the hosts felt aggrieved after Leroy Sane had a second goal wrongly disallowed for offside just before half-time.
“It’s different to go in 1-0 at half-time to 2-0,” said Guardiola, who also believed Liverpool’s opener in a 3-0 first-leg win at Anfield last week should have been ruled out for offside.
“When the teams are so equal the impact of these decisions is so big.”
Mohamed Salah booked Liverpool’s place in the last four for the first time in a decade when he coolly chipped home his 39th goal of the season 11 minutes into the second half before Roberto Firmino inflicted a third consecutive defeat on City for the first time in Guardiola’s near two-year reign.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed the maturity of his side to see out a first-half onslaught.
“The boys found a solution. We had these two or three moments already at end of the first half so it was easy for me and the boys to see the development of the game and that we are already through the whirlwind,” said Klopp.
Liverpool trail City by 17 points in the Premier League, but have now beaten Guardiola’s men in three of their four meetings this season.
“I really think they are the best team in the world at the moment but I knew we could beat them,” added Klopp.
“We should enjoy the moment. It was a while ago Liverpool was in the semis and I was in the semis and now we are there together.”
Guardiola admitted beforehand that his side needed the “perfect” performance and the hosts got the perfect start as they opened the scoring after just 117 seconds.
Liverpool were unhappy at Mateu Lahoz in what was to be the start of a controversial night for the Spaniard when Virgil van Dijk claimed he had been pushed by Raheem Sterling in the lead-up to the goal.
The referee was unmoved, though, and with the Dutchman out of position, Fernandinho’s through ball found Sterling and his low cross was swept home by Jesus.
Salah had been an injury doubt after limping off in the first leg, but Liverpool were unable to spring the Egyptian free in the first 45 minutes as City peppered the visitors’ box with crosses without finding the final touch.
Bernardo Silva saw a deflected effort spin just wide and then rattled the post with a deflected long-range strike.
“The first half was so good,” added Guardiola. “(We) hit the post from Bernardo, but when you arrive you have to try to score the second goal.”
The turning point came seconds later when Sane turned into an empty net after Loris Karius’s punch came back off his own player James Milner.
Guardiola ran onto the field at half-time to pull his protesting players away from the official before embarking on his own rant at Mateu Lahoz that saw him watch the second half from the stands.
City understandably failed to maintain the intensity of their first-half display and Salah got the decisive goal when he followed up after Ederson had denied Sadio Mane with a wonderfully-judged chipped finish past the despairing Nicolas Otamendi in the 56th minute.
City’s terrible week after also blowing the chance to seal the Premier League title against local rivals Manchester United at the weekend was rounded off 13 minutes from time when Otamendi was caught in possession and Firmino slotted in off the far post.
Borussia Moenchengladbach have offered their apologies to the Bundesliga’s only female referee Bibiana Steinhaus after a group of their fans called her a ‘whore’ during a league game with Hertha Berlin.
Gladbach beat Hertha 2-1 on Saturday thanks to rapid-fire goals by Thorgan Hazard after the video assistant referee (VAR) twice intervened.
With the hosts 1-0 down, Steinhaus ruled out a 54th-minute goal by Gladbach winger Patrick Herrmann when the VAR spotted an offside in the build-up.
And the 39-year-old awarded a penalty, following a foul by Hertha defender Marvin Lustenberger on Borussia’s Nico Elvedi, only after a long delay consulting with the VAR.
Her decisions incensed some home fans, who insulted Steinhaus, and Gladbach’s Director of Sport, Max Eberl made a public apology.
“As a club, we have to apologise to Mrs Steinhaus,” Eberl told broadcaster ZDF.
“She is an excellent referee and such nonsense has no place on a football field.”
Steinhaus, who made history by becoming the first female referee in a top league last year, said she was unaware of the insults.
“I did not hear that at all. My focus and concentration were totally on the action on the pitch,” she told German daily Bild.
Video assistant referee technology (VAR) will make its debut at the World Cup in Russia this summer despite lingering opposition from within and outside football, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Friday.
“We are going to have in 2018, for the first time, a World Cup with VAR,” said Infantino after a meeting of the FIFA Council which, as expected, rubber-stamped the go-ahead given by the rule-making International Football Association Board (IFAB) in Zurich two weeks ago.
“This has been approved and we are really very happy with this decision.”
The World Cup, which takes place from June 14-July 15, will see VAR used to judge whether or not a goal has been scored, analyse whether a penalty should be awarded, decide on red cards and rectify if a player has been mistakenly sanctioned.
“VAR is something positive that will bring much more to the transparency of football,” Infantino said earlier this week on a visit to Lima.
“Video refereeing isn’t going to be the solution to everything in football. What we want to do is avoid resounding mistakes by referees.”
VAR has been trialled since 2016 by 20 federations, including the German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A, with around 1,000 matches involved.
But it has not been universally welcomed with even UEFA, the European governing body, still to be convinced.
“Nobody knows exactly how VAR will work. There is already a lot of confusion,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who insists that VAR will not be used in next season’s Champions League.
“I am not at all against it but we must better explain when it will be used. We will see at the World Cup.”
One of the problems that dogs VAR, say its critics, is not the accuracy of its decisions but the time it takes to arrive at them.
It’s a drawback which has left many fans and purists frustrated that the flow of a game is interrupted.
“The intervention of VAR takes one minute on average in each game. If we lose a minute to correct mistakes, I think we have done something good,” said Infantino.
However, Colombia coach Luis Fernando Suarez added in an interview with AFP: “It seems hurried to me. I think we should do other trials in other tournaments, analyse them well, and then put it in place.”
Suarez, who led Ecuador at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and Honduras in 2014 in Brazil, remains a fan in general of the use of technology in football, which he has witnessed close up.
That came in the 2014 tournament when his Honduras team played France in Porto Alegre when the first goal decided through GLT (goal-line technology) was awarded to France.
“It’s good and necessary that there are changes but it’s essential that we don’t lose the essence of football,” added Suarez.
Nigeria’s U-17 women’s team coach, Bala Nikyu, has blamed poor officiating for his girls 2-2 draw against Cameroon in their 2018 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final round, first leg clash on Saturday.
Nikyu stated while addressing journalists Channels Television at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, Edo State.
“We had the opportunity of winning these people. If you look at the referee, she is one-sided. We are playing Cameroon and they brought a French-speaking referee. I don’t bother whether they are under-aged or over-aged.”
“I have the belief that we have the ability to beat them, if not for her careless attitude to officiating.”
According to him, it was wrong for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to appoint a referee from a french speaking country to officiate the match.
Precious Vincent put Nigeria ahead after 100 seconds with a smart finish from Osaretin Ikekhua’s pass. But the Lionesses drew level only eight minutes later, with a brilliant header by Marie Ngah, and then shot into the lead just before the interval through Alice Kameni.
Ikekhua would turn scorer in the 54th minute, putting away a free –kick to draw Nigeria level in the evening.
The scoreline means the Flamingos must put up an impressive performance to overcome their opponents in the return leg in Yaounde in two weeks’ time, in order to earn a ticket to the 6th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup taking place in Uruguay later this year.
To reach the last round of qualifiers, the Flamingos drew 1-1 with Ethiopia in Addis Ababa and both teams finished the return 0-0 in Benin. The away goal earned Nigeria passage at the expense of the East Africans.
Only a win in Yaounde or a high score draw from 3-3, will see Nigeria sustain her reputation of playing in every edition of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup since the competition was launched in New Zealand 10 years ago.