May 30, 2018 / 5:15 PM / 20 days ago

Soccer: FIFA won't replace banned Saudi World Cup referee

ZURICH (Reuters) - The World Cup referee given a life ban in his homeland Saudi Arabia this month for a match-fixing attempt will not be replaced at next month’s tournament in Russia, world soccer’s ruling body FIFA said on Wednesday.

Jordan's Anas Bani Yaseen (19) is sent off by referee Fahad Al Mirdasi of Saudi Arabia following a foul during their Asian Cup Group D soccer match against Iraq at the Brisbane Stadium in Brisbane January 12, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su

The Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) said two weeks ago that it had barred referee Fahad Al Mirdasi after he confessed to offering to fix the final of his country’s domestic cup competition.

FIFA confirmed in a statement to Reuters that Al Mirdasi’s World Cup selection had been withdrawn with immediate effect.

“The FIFA Referees Committee has taken the decision not to directly replace Al Mirdasi,” it said, adding that the two assistant referees in his team, Mohammed Al Abakry and Abdulah Alshalwai, had also been dropped.

The SAFF said that Al Mirdasi offered to fix the King’s Cup final, played on May 12, on behalf of the Al Ittihad club.

The 32-year-old referee made the approach to Al Ittihad chief Hamad Al-Senaie, who immediately handed over the WhatsApp messages to SAFF officials and they alerted the relevant government authorities, the SAFF said.

Al Mirdasi was taken into police custody where he confessed to soliciting the corrupt payment, the SAFF Ethics Committee said.

Al Ittihad beat Al Faisaly in the King’s Cup final, winning after extra-time a game refereed by former Premier League official Mark Clattenburg.

Clattenburg, who was appointed Head of Refereeing at the SAFF last year, stepped in to replace Al Mirdasi on the eve of the game.

Al Mirdasi has been on the FIFA referees’ list since 2011 and officiated at last year’s Confederations Cup in Russia.

Writing by Brian Homewood, Editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond

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