Indonesian claims UAE ref favoured Saudi Arabians

The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) has reportedly filed a letter of protest with the Asian Football Confederation complaining of poor refereeing as Indonesia lost 1-2 to Saudi Arabia in the Asian Cup match on Saturday night. Elshinta radio station quoted Indonesian referee Jimmy Napitupulu that PSSI chairman Nurdin Halid decided to send the letter of protest after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who came to the National Stadium to watch the match, expressed his disappointment over the poor leadership of referee Ali Al Badwawi of the United Arab Emirates.

Napitupulu said the match was supposed to have been be conducted by a referee from China, but the AFC made a sudden change before the match by appointing Badwawi as the referee. "Badwawi easily handed out five yellow cards to Indonesian players for committing light tackles agains Saudi Arabian players, but he did not look bothered with Saudi Arabian players committing fouls. Indonesia will lose two midfielders Syamsul Bachri and Eka Ramdani in the last match against South Korea following two yellow cards they earned in the first two matches," the Jakarta Post complained.

Indonesian fans began demonstrations outside the official hotel immediately after the game concluded with makeshift banners stating "The Referee is an Idiot!," "Fair Play Please," "AFC Go To Hell!" and "AFC Referee Unfair". Two representatives of the supporters met with the AFC to discuss their issues, while the remainder milled around outside the luxury hotel, smoking cigarettes and joking with police and armed guards They accused Badwawi of favoring another Middle Eastern team. "We felt cheated by the referee," Saiful Baqirok, who had made the 700-kilometre trip from Sidoarjo, East Java, told Reuters. "I think it's because the referee is from United Arab Emirates. Why not choose one from Australia?"

Asked after the match what he thought about the referee, Indonesia coach Ivan Kolev said he thought some of his decisions "were a little strange" but declined further comment. The AFC said it was preparing a statement on the protest, but none of the decisions stood out as particularly controversial or harsher than those in other games in the tournamentso far.