Controversial Exit At Asian Cup That Ends Iraq’s Campaign

Bader Al-Sammarraie

Controversial Exit at Asian Cup That Ends Iraq’s Campaign

Aymen Hussein’s pivotal moment, propelling Iraq toward the Asian Cup quarterfinals, turned into a turning point when he was sent off just moments later. On Monday at Khalifa International Stadium, after scoring to put Iraq ahead 2-1, the striker’s jubilant celebrations led to his second yellow card.

The elation of taking the lead quickly soured as referee Alireza Faghani brandished the second yellow to Hussein. The situation deteriorated further for the 2007 champion when Yazan Al Arab equalized in the fifth minute of added time from a rebound. The final blow came two minutes later when Nizar Al Rashdan netted the winning goal from outside the box.

Controversial Exit at Asian Cup That Ends Iraq’s Campaign

Hussein’s 76th-minute goal set off exuberant celebrations, featuring him sitting cross-legged on the field and playfully mimicking eating, but the subsequent red card overshadowed what could have been a triumphant moment for Iraq.

Controversial Exit at Asian Cup That Ends Iraq’s Campaign

The national team coach expressed, “Our performance in the first half fell short of our best, allowing Jordan to capitalize on counter-attacks. However, we regained control in the second half. The turning point was the red card, altering the game’s trajectory.”

“In any significant tournament, players naturally celebrate scoring goals. It seems unjust for the referee to issue a red card for such celebrations. We observed Jordan celebrating similarly without any repercussions.”

“The ill-timed red card hindered our ability to make defensive substitutions, as we had already implemented changes earlier in the game.”

Controversial Exit at Asian Cup That Ends Iraq’s Campaign

Various opinions and repercussions emerged in response to the referee’s decisions during the match, as follows:

  • Mustafa Al-Agha, a football media personality, shared his perspective on Ayman Hussein’s shot, stating, “I do not believe he was in any way offensive, and in my view, he does not merit expulsion.”
  • Player Ayman Hussein, also known as Abu Tabar, lamented the lack of fairness, saying, “Fairness is absent when your opponent is the referee. Praise be to God. Regardless, I extend my apologies to the Iraqi people for the disappointment. God bless you, Iraq.”
  • Independent MP Bassem Khashan expressed his intentions, declaring, “Tomorrow, I plan to file a lawsuit with the Federal Court to contest the Iraq vs. Jordan match and seek a state order to remove the Iranian referee from officiating international tournaments.”
  • Saudi analyst Hamad Al-Dubaikhi expressed his frustration, exclaiming, “A referee expels a player because of a celebration. What kind of logic is this? The referee has dealt a severe blow to Iraq, and the expulsion stands out as the turning point in the match.”

Controversial Exit at Asian Cup That Ends Iraq’s Campaign

Addressing the duration of Ayman Hussein’s goal celebration, Nashaat Akram remarked:

“The Jordanian players’ celebration lasted longer. The referee displayed a bias against the player, casting a disapproving look that was entirely unfair.”

Controversial Exit at Asian Cup That Ends Iraq’s Campaign

The Iraqi public and fans found it necessary to initiate an online petition denouncing this incident. The petition has garnered 300,000 signatures to date, demanding the suspension of the referee for his actions during the match.

This led the Iraqi Federation to officially file a complaint with the AFC against referee Ali Reda.

One of the fans’ opinions from the stadium

Read also: Iraq Reshapes Future Relationship with UN


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