Northern Ireland: World Cup play-off referee admits penalty error

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 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,” said Hategan.

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.

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

“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.

BBC

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