Non-Asian referees requested for World Cup games

Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam has requested football's governing body, FIFA, appoint non-Asian referees when Bahrain and Uzbekistan meet in their rescheduled World Cup qualifying clash next month.

Uzbekistan won the first leg 1-0 but a technical error by Japanese referee Toshimitsu Yoshida - who ruled out a successful Uzbek penalty for encroachment before erroneously awarding Bahrain an indirect free kick - prompted FIFA to order the game be replayed on 8 October.

"I have asked FIFA to appoint referees from outside of Asia to officiate the matches involving Bahrain and Uzbekistan because I also was not happy with FIFA's decision to repeat the match," Mr Bin Hammam told PA Sport.

"No matter how far the referees go in making mistakes, the Uzbeks won the game. So I did not want to see if the Uzbeks were to lose the rematch, that they did it with an Asian referee. I could not stand to see that. It would not please my conscience and I could not please myself as president of the confederation. But if the match was left as it was I would have insisted that the second match be left to an Asian referee," he said.

In the past, non-Asian referees were used in vital World Cup qualifying matches, with FIFA appointing officials during the tournament to decide Asia's representative for France 98. "But in recent years the practice has occurred less and less, with Asian officials taking charge at the majority of World Cup qualifiers throughout the continent," PA Sport commented.