By Farrokh Hesabi

Faghani’s removal from Iran international referees list causes controversy

November 10, 2020 - 19:41

TEHRAN - The removal of Alireza Faghani, the elite Iranian referee, from the Iranian football federation’s international referees list, has caused controversy.

Since Sunday, it has been heard that Faghani has been excluded from the list of international referees by the Refereeing Committee of the Football Federation of Iran.

The news was confirmed on Monday. Therefore, some former Iranian referees and current experts reacted with concern to the issue and asked the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) to solve the problem and even called higher sports authorities such as Sports Ministry for addressing the issue.

One of the world’s top referees, Faghani, decided last year to migrate to Australia from Iran for family reasons.

The Australian football federation offered him a contract to officiate in the Hyundai A-League 2019-20 season as a full-time referee.

Most Iranian refereeing experts believe that by removing Faghani, Iranian football has no chance to have any other representative to officiate in the 2022 World Cup. That’s why the FFIRI’s Refereeing Committee should return Faghani to the list of international referees of Iran.

An extremely well-respected international match official, Faghani refereed two matches at the AFC Asian Cup 2019 as well as four matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, including the third-place play-off match between Belgium and England, two matches at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, and also the gold medal match at the 2016 Olympic Games Men’s Football tournament between Germany and Brazil.

He was named the AFC Referee of the Year twice in 2016 and 2018.

To remove a referee of such a caliber as Faghani has put the Iranian football federation under pressure and drew heavy criticism from media and experts against the directors of the federation and the members of the Refereeing Committee.

Accordingly, Heydar Baharvand, the football federation's acting president, ordered the Refereeing Committee to review the issue urgently. He asked the committee to examine the possible ways of introducing Faghani as Iran’s international referee. He also demanded to require the possible instructions through FIFA to solve the problem.

Faghani’s international experience is a huge asset for the Iranian football, especially the Iranian refereeing community. It is necessary to pave the way for keeping him on the list of Iranian referees for today and always.

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