May 16 – A World Cup-bound Saudi referee chosen by FIFA has been banned for life at home for a matchfixing attempt just days before he was due to fly to Russia.
In an embarrassing and untimely blow to both FIFA and the Saudis, Fahad Al Mirdasi, one of Asia’s most experienced officials, will be conspicuous by his absence in Russia after being placed under investigation in Saudi Arabia as soon as he was removed from handling last weekend’s Saudi cup final.
Al-Mirdasi was replaced at the last minute for the match between Al-Ittihad and Al-Faisaly by former FIFA and English Premier League referee Mark Clattenberg who is currently employed by the Saudis as their head of refereeing.
Al Mirdasi, one of 36 officials selected by FIFA for Russia, took part in last year’s Confederations Cup, the traditional World Cup warm-up tournament, overseeing the third-place game between Mexico and Portugal where two penalties were awarded, two players were sent off in extra time and Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio was also dismissed. He was also a referee at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
It now emerges that he confessed to offering to fix Saturday’s King’s Cup final on behalf of Al Ittihad club, according to the Saudi FA which added that it had requested FIFA to confirm the lifetime global ban as well as removing him from the World Cup list.
The 32-year-old official apparently made the approach to Al Ittihad chief Hamad Al-Senaie, who immediately handed over the WhatsApp messages to SAFF officials who in turn alerted the relevant government authorities
Al Mirdasi has been on the FIFA referees’ list since 2011. As yet there is no statement from FIFA over who, if anyone, will replace him in Russia.
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