Referee 'not smart enough', says HK's FIFA instructor

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 April, 1998, 12:00am

An experienced FIFA referee instructor has criticised the Malaysian referee at Sunday's Asian Club Championship final for being 'not smart enough' to make the right decision over a controversial penalty kick which led to a 6-5 victory for South Korea's Pohang Steelers over Dalian Wanda of China.

The match at the Hong Kong Stadium was deadlocked at 0-0 after extra-time and had to be decided by penalty shootout.

Dalian were furious with Malaysian referee S. Selearajan after he allowed Pohang's Iraqi international Abbas Jassim to re-take his decisive spot-kick. Selearajan felt Jassim had hesitated during the run-up to his first effort - which cannoned off the post - and ordered him to kick again.

At the second attempt Jassim made no mistake, sending Dalian goalkeeper Han Wenhai the wrong way to win the shootout for the Koreans.

Defeat for the Chinese champions sparked uproar, with missiles being thrown on to the pitch by angry fans, and Dalian officials protesting to match officials. Dalian later refused to accept the runners-up medals and the team officials also stopped Zhang Enhua from receiving his Most Valuable Player award.

Selearajan declined to comment after the game but Asian Football Confederation (AFC) officials said he had blown his whistle before Jassim had kicked the ball on his first penalty.

'He had stopped the penalty before the ball was kicked because the player had feinted on his run-up . . . it was the right decision,' an AFC spokesman said. In that case, FIFA referee instructor Chan Tam-sun said Selearajan had made a mistake.

'According to the rules, it is a misconduct as it is considered scaring the goalkeeper. Selearajan should not have let the player re-take the penalty,' said Chan.

'The referee should have let the player go on with the penalty. If it was in, then the player would have to re-take it. If it was not in, then the advantage should have been given to the opposite side.' Chan, who officiated in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, added: 'The referee was not smart enough to make the right decision fast. If his decision is ruled incorrect by the AFC, he will be downgraded, though the game's result will stand.'