A World Cup-bound referee has been banned for life for a match-fixing attempt in Saudi Arabia just weeks before he was due to fly to Russia, the country’s football federation has said.
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) disclosed that Fahad Al Mirdasi confessed to offering to fix the King’s Cup final between Al Ittihad and Al Faisaly.
The 32-year-old is one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent referees, having earned a FIFA badge in 2011 and officiating at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 and the Confederations Cup in Russia in 2017.
In a statement to AFP, FIFA said it was looking at the case and seeking more information.
“FIFA notes the information that referee Fahad Al Mirdasi has allegedly been banned for life from all football-related activities by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF),” it said.
“FIFA has requested more information from the SAFF before making any further comments.”
In a statement, the disciplinary and ethics committee said Mirdasi had approached the president of Al-Ittihad asking him for a bribe to enable his team to win.
“The Ittihad president Hamad Al-Sanayeh called the Saudi Football Federation to state there was evidence that Fahad Al-Mirdasi had reached out via text messages on WhatsApp. He asked for an illegal sum of money in exchange for helping his team win the game,” it said.
The case was referred to the Saudi Football Federation, then the General Authority for Sport — the highest sports authority in the kingdom — triggering an administrative investigation.
Mirdasi confessed to the charges, according to the statement, and it was decided “to deprive him from participating in any football activity for life”.
The committee recommended that Saudi Arabia officially request FIFA to remove Mirdasi from the list of referees participating in the 2018 World Cup and suspend him for life.
“Our integrity is above all considerations,” said Turki Al-Sheikh, head of the General Authority for Sport.