January 11, 2018

World Cup play-off referee admits penalty error

World Cup play-off referee admits penalty error

Ovidiu Hategan

The referee who awarded a controversial penalty against Northern Ireland during their World Cup play-off defeat by Switzerland says he made a mistake.

Ovidiu Hategan

Ovidiu Hategan ruled that Corry Evans blocked a shot with his arm during the first leg, despite replays showing the ball struck the player’s shoulder.

“It was a sad and unpleasant moment for me, sad because I made that mistake,” Hategan told Romanian media.

The Romanian will not be used as a referee at the World Cup in Russia.

World governing body Fifa has released the list of 36 match referees who will take charge of matches at this year’s tournament and Hategan has accepted that his decision during the first leg at Windsor Park may have played a factor in his omission.

Northern Ireland’s defender Gareth Mcauley (L) tries to tackle Switzerland’s forward Haris Seferovic (C) as Northern Ireland’s striker Kyle Lafferty (R) looks on during the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier second round football match between Northern Ireland and Switzerland at Windsor Park in Belfast on November 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO

“Unfortunately I’m not among the 36, but I’ll see if I’m going to be a video referee,” he added.

“Surely it has had a big influence and what happened in the play-off game. It’s not a secret and I’m not hiding behind words.

“In our world, the referees are the same as the goalkeepers – everyone sees the mistake.

“I’ve got over that moment, I’m a strong man. My family were there for me.”

Swiss defender Ricardo Rodríguez scored the spot-kick to secure the only goal of the play-off, which ended Northern Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for Russia.