Al-Hilal cry foul over Champions League refereeing 'blunders'
04 November 2014, 10:37
Nairobi - Saudi club Al-Hilal have furiously demanded a formal probe into the appointment of the referees for the Asian Champions League final, which they lost 1-0 on aggregate to Australia's Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend.
The 13-times Saudi champions were unable to erase a first leg deficit in a 0-0 draw last Saturday in Riyadh, where they had three strong appeals for penalties turned down by Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura.
"What happened in the second leg of the AFC Champions League final is a black spot in the history of Asian football," the club said in a statement.
"(It was) a looting of the right of an entire people who has been waiting for happiness and enjoyment of fair competition, which requires dealing seriously with this matter, and punishing who caused that, whatever their positions in AFC, in order to be in good hands and fair competition."
Nishimura was at the centre of controversy at the World Cup in Brazil earlier this year after awarding the hosts a questionable penalty in the opening game of the tournament against Croatia.
The club also criticised the performance of Iranian referee Alireza Faghani in the first leg, which Al-Hilal lost 1-0 despite dominating for most of the game, and said they should have been awarded a total of six penalties over the two matches.
"It is surprising to appoint a referee for the second leg who was deported from refereeing in the last World Cup as a result of his mistakes during the tournament as well the end of his refereeing career at the end of this game," the statement continued.
"Which proves that appointing him as a referee for the match is a big mistake that requires investigation and causes punishment."
The statement said the club's management put the responsibility for the "blunders" at the door of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chief, Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain.
"The AFC President should bear the responsibility and stop the blunders that were witnessed in the two matches; that appeared suspiciously and tarnished the reputation of the AFC," the statement continued.
"(It) raised many questions about the AFC Championships and the integrity and fairness of its competitions, and the need to ensure the absence of any effect of betting offices scattered among football; by assigning the competent authority in the Asian Confederation to start investigating seriously."
The AFC have already said they will probe the incidents at the end of last Saturday's match, when a brawl between the two sides was triggered by Al-Hilal striker Nasser Al-Shamrani spitting at Wanderers defender Matthew Spiranovic.
"The AFC will review the Referee's and Match Commissioner's report and will proceed with the necessary investigation into the incidents," the AFC said in a statement.