||ESPNsoccernet: World Cup
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
Uzbekistan and Bahrain to play it again
FIFA officials have potentially set a precedent for overruling refereeing
decisions after ordering Uzbekistan's World Cup qualifier against Bahrain to be
Uzbekistan won the opening leg of the Asian zone play-off 1-0 at the weekend -
with both teams looking to qualify for next summer's finals in Germany.
But they were incensed after a bizarre incident where a penalty was disallowed
for an attacking player encroaching.
Rather than retaking the penalty, a free-kick was awarded to Bahrain, who
subsequently kept within sight of a two-legged play-off in November against the
fourth team from the CONCACAF region.
Uzbekistan called for an investigation into the penalty incident, but they are
angry the match is to be replayed in its entirety, accusing FIFA of 'stealing'
their slender lead.
The second leg was due to be played tomorrow, but both legs will now be played
in October, and Uzbekistan will host the first leg again.
A statement from FIFA read: 'FIFA confirmed today that the result of the 2006
FIFA World Cup Germany qualifying match between Uzbekistan and Bahrain on
September 3, 2005, has been declared invalid and must be replayed.'
Uzbekistan Football Federation officials made their complaint to FIFA after
the error from Japanese referee Toshimitsu Yoshida, which could have been
crucial if Bahrain won the second leg by two goals.
The decision to replay the game was made by a FIFA bureau including UEFA
president Lennart Johansson.
'The bureau, taking into consideration that the referee in the match in
question had indeed committed a technical error, established that, as a
consequence, the match needed to be replayed,' the FIFA statement added.
'As a result, the protest put forward by the Uzbekistan team for the match to
be considered a forfeit with a 3-0 result is rejected.'
Uzbekistan coach Bobby Houghton said after the win on Saturday: 'We feel it
could have been a bigger victory but I don't know what the referee was doing
with that decision.'
The hosts were also incensed because Mohammed Jumaa Abdulla was not sent off
for his handball in the build-up to the penalty.
FIFA's order for the match to be replayed was not welcomed by the Uzbekistan
'The referee stole our second goal and now FIFA is stealing our first goal,'
said Alisher Nikimbaev, the UFF's head of international relations.
'Now we must start the first match from 0-0 in the first minute. It's not
fair for our team.
'We don't agree with the decision and we will try to change everything during
the FIFA congress and the FIFA Exco meeting next week in Marrakech because if
they want to replay this match we think we should not start from the first
minute but from the 38th minute, from the penalty.
'We must start with the penalty and if we score, we score. If we don't score,
okay. We will start the game from the 38th minute but it's not fair to start to
play from the first minute.'