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Football Australia backs referee Alireza Faghani after Asian Cup online abuse

FA is backing referee Alireza Faghani after he copped online abuse while on Asian Cup duty.

FA is backing referee Alireza Faghani after he copped online abuse while on Asian Cup duty. Photo: Getty

Football Australia is supporting Alireza Faghani after the referee was targeted online following his officiating of Iraq’s dramatic Asian Cup loss to Jordan.

Meanwhile, a group of journalists that angrily confronted Iraq coach Jesus Casas in the post-match press conference have had their accreditations revoked and been slapped with bans by the Asian Football Confederation.

Iraq, which beat Japan on its way to finishing top of their group, had been in flying form in Qatar and appeared destined to reach the quarter-finals when Aymen Hussein gave them a 2-1 lead in the 76th minute.

Hussein wheeled away celebrating then sitting on the turf pretending to eat – mimicking an earlier celebration from Jordan’s Yazan al-Naimat, who scored the opener.

Faghani gave the goal scorer a second yellow card for excessive celebrations.

A 10-man Iraq was left fuming and was unable to hold on against Jordan, which scored in the 95th and 97th minutes to seal a dramatic 3-2 comeback win at Khalifa International Stadium.

After the match, Iranian referee Faghani, who has been based in Australia since late 2019 and is listed among Australia’s referees for the Asian Cup, was heavily blamed by Iraq fans online for their team’s defeat.

This included comments on social media, a petition calling for his suspension as a referee, and the posting of his personal details online.

“The safety and wellbeing of all Football Australia staff and members of the Australian football community is our priority,” FA said in a statement.

“Football Australia is in constant contact with Alireza and is providing he and his family with all the support they require.

“Football Australia is also working with e-Safety and relevant law enforcement agencies on this matter.”

Highly experienced referee Faghani is officiating at his fourth Asian Cup.

“While the AFC does not comment on individual refereeing performances, we strongly condemn any form of threat, harassment, or disclosure of personal information targeting our referees, players, officials and all stakeholders,” the organisation said.

The AFC added of the journalist bans: “The AFC strongly condemns any type of unruly and aggressive behaviour and takes a zero-tolerance stance against such actions.

“The AFC is deeply disappointed by the actions witnessed during the post-match press conference of the tie between Iraq and Jordan and have taken the swift decision to bar the responsible individuals from covering not only the (current) Asian Cup but also future AFC tournaments.”

The Iraq Football Association (IFA) lamented the scenes of Casas being harassed as more painful than its Asian Cup exit, and a “black mark” on Iraqi media.

“We denounce the blatant and abhorrent behaviour that occurred against the coach, and we confirm that we have decided not to deal with these media personnel who seek to cause chaos in the future,” the IFA said.

“And we will follow legal methods to restore the coach’s reputation, and approach the relevant authorities to explain what happened.”

-AAP

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