Senior ref blasts man in middle of controversy for hat-trick of own goals Print
Written by Dominic Bossi, Sydney Morning Herald   
Friday, 15 June 2012 15:29

Under the microscope... referee Khalil Al Ghamdi is under fire for his performance in the World Cup qualifier. Photo: AFP

The referee in charge of the Socceroos' 1-1 draw with Japan, Khalil al-Ghamdi, has been criticised by a peer for his handling of the game.

Ghamdi is highly respected in Asian Football Confederation and FIFA refereeing circles, but his latest performance has tarnished his reputation as one of Asia's best whistle-blowers. His dismissal of Mark Milligan, controversial penalty to Australia and denying Japan the opportunity to take a late free-kick reflected poorly on his ability to officiate high-profile matches, and could result in him being overlooked for future qualifiers.

"It just looked as though he never had a feel for the game. It looked as though he wanted to have a very strict interpretation for what is right and wrong," a senior Australian referee, who has controlled AFC matches, said yesterday.

"There's no excuse, ever, to forget who it is that he booked, and he clearly forgot that he booked Milligan already. I'd think that you wouldn't see Khalil get many big games in AFC for a while to come."

In recent years, there has been a strong directive from FIFA and the AFC instructing referees to punish players impeding, holding and shirt-tugging opponents when defending set-pieces in the box, but the senior Australian referee said there were other factors to take into account when he awarded the Socceroos a 69th-minute spot-kick.

"As referees, you look for certain things, such as did the holding interfere with the play? The player that was held near the goal line was nowhere near where the ball was coming in. The length of the holding was minimal, and those two factors make a referee think that it was a very, very harsh decision."

Ghamdi's decision to send off Milligan was also criticised, as it was a mistimed challenge with minimal contact. "His second yellow card last night was a perfect example of a referee just rushing into things too quickly," the senior referee said. "As referees, you know that if you give a second yellow card, it has to be a really clear yellow card."

Japan might be justifiably angry at Ghamdi's decision to blow full-time before a free-kick was taken, although FIFA rules state only a penalty kick must delay the full-time whistle. "It was a really sloppy way to end the game," the Australian referee said.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 June 2012 15:40