May 31 – The Saudi referee appointed by FIFA for the World Cup has been dropped after he was handed a life ban in his homeland for match-fixing.
In a hugely embarrassing blow for the country, the region and FIFA itself, Fahad Al Mirdasi, one of Asia’s most experienced officials, will be removed from the tournament after the Saudi Football Federation (SAFF) revealed two weeks ago that he asked for a bribe ahead of the domestic cup final.
As a result, the entire Saudi officiating team has also been thrown out of the World Cup with FIFA replacing them with two additional assistant referees from the United Arab Emirates and Japan.
Mirdasi, who was one of five Arab referees chosen by FIFA, confessed earlier this month to attempting to bribe the boss of al-Ittihad’s head in order to influence the outcome of the King’s Cup final between Al-Ittihad and Al-Faisaly.
FIFA said in a statement that “the conditions to be selected for the World Cup are not satisfied anymore”.
World football’s governing body also stood down Mohammed Al-Abakry and Abdulah Al-Shalwai, the two assistant referees who were due to work with Al-Mirdasi.
Al-Mirdasi’s confession took place just weeks before he was due to fly to Russia. He has been a FIFA referee since 2011 and took part in last year’s Confederations Cup
The 32-year-old made his bribery 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. The game was ultimately refereed by former Premier League official Mark Clattenburg, currently Head of Refereeing in Saudi Arabia.
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