Saudi Arabia World Cup referee placed under investigation

Fahad Al-Mirdasi could miss out on refereeing at the World Cup after being placed under investigation. (AFP)
Updated 12 May 2018
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Saudi Arabia World Cup referee placed under investigation

  • Saudi Football Federation stop Fahad Al-Mirdasi from officiating cup final
  • Referee referred to the General Investigations Bureau

Fahad Al-Mirdasi's involvement at the World Cup has been thrown into major doubt after he was dramatically stood down from Saturday's King's Cup final and placed under investigation.
Saudi's top referee was due to officiate the match at King Abdullah Sports City between Al-Ittihad and Al-Faisaly, but the Saudi Football Federation (SAFF) announced on Friday night that the 32-year-old would no longer be taking charge of the game.
"The Saudi Arabian Football Federation, with the blessing of the Saudi Olympic Committee, has decided to remove referee Fahad Al-Mirdasi from refereeing the King's Cup final and to refer him to the General Investigations Bureau," read the tweet SAFF's official Twitter account. "Mark Clattenburg has been appointed to referee the final instead."
Al-Mirdasi is one of three Saudi match officials selected for next summer’s tournament by FIFA, but his participation must now be in some jeopardy. FIFA, who have named 36 referees for the tournament in Russia, are likely to want clarification surrounding the exact reasons for the SAFF's decision to suspend and then place one of Asia's top referees under investigation.
Al-Mirdasi was set to become the fourth Saudi referee to officiate at the World Cup, following in the footsteps of Falaj Al-Shannar, Abdulrahman Al-Zeid and Khalil Jalal.
Having previously taken charge of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal as well as matches in the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2017 FIFA Confederation Cup, Al-Mirdasi is one of Asia’s most experienced referees.
SAFF President Adel Ezzat said in March that the selection of Al-Mirdasi — along with assistant referees Abdullah Al-Shalawi and Mohammed Al-Abkari — was a proud moment for the Kingdom.
“The three officials won FIFA’s trust after officiating at the highest levels of continental and international football,” said Ezzat in a statement published on the SAFF Twitter account. “It is a reward for them to be at the greatest of all football competitions. They deserve congratulations as they have earned their places among the elite of the refereeing world. To have three match officials at the World Cup is a great motivation for us at the SAFF to enhance our work in developing Saudi referees. I wish them success in Russia and we will be looking forward for them to do us proud.”


Inquest begins at LA Lakers as LeBron James misses out on NBA playoffs

Updated 22 min 11 sec ago
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Inquest begins at LA Lakers as LeBron James misses out on NBA playoffs

LONDON: The post-mortem on Los Angeles’ Lakers season has begun after the storied franchise missed out on the NBA playoffs for a sixth consecutive year this weekend.
It was not meant to be like this, especially after the signing of LeBron James — the man who single-handedly dragged his hometown team Cleveland Cavaliers to a championship in 2016 and was instrumental in Miami Heat’s dominance in the first half of the decade.
James’ mercurial talent was often the difference for those two franchises in clutch situations throughout the season, but for all the fanfare on his arrival at the Staples Center last summer, the “James Effect” has failed to materialize in California.
He has often called his own superhuman efforts in the run up to — and during — the postseason the “Playoff Mode,” but even the genius of James was not enough to put his new franchise into the picture.
It did not help that as soon as it became clear they were not going to be appear beyond April 10, made all the clearer by a recent humbling defeat to the league’s worst team (New York Knicks), James has been benched more and more by the management.
And it speaks volumes about the problems at the Lakers that it will be the first playoffs without James featuring since 2005. Not only had he played in the playoffs for 13 consecutive seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, he had also played in eight straight NBA finals.
Granted, James — a three-time NBA champion and four-time league Most Valuable Player — was adamant back in September that the task of rebuilding the Lakers, who had missed the playoffs for five straight seasons would be a long-term project.
“Obviously, I would love for the team to be in the post-season,” James said as soon as it became clear he and the team would miss out on the playoff party.
“But right now, it’s not the hand I was dealt, so you play the hand that you were dealt until the dealer shuffles the cards and you’re dealt another hand and can do that.”
So what has gone so terribly wrong with the Lakers this year?
A big factor was injuries, not only to James but to other key players, throughout the season.
Everything looked rosy for the Lakers toward the end of December when they thrashed reigning champions Golden State Warriors, but a groin injury to James was a sign of the bad run to come. In his 17-game absence, the Lakers won just six games.
Then Lonzo Ball sprained an ankle in January, leaving the Lakers defense very vulnerable while Brandon Ingram, who had been influential in the team reaching the dizzying heights of fourth place in the Western Conference, was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a blood clot in his arm. Those certainly were damaging injuries.
The Lakers, also, have built too much of the team and its tactics around James. They have a good core of young talent in Ball, Ingram and Kyle Kuzuma, but management has not utilized them nearly well enough. Instead, for the first half of the season definitely, there was too much focus put on James and he was expected to win games almost by himself. Even the greatest player of a generation needs help from time to time.
The boardroom has to take some responsibility, too. Letting players like Brook Lopez (having a remarkable season with this year’s huge surprise package the Milwaukee Bucks), Julius Randle who averages 20 points per game at New Orleans and Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell (picked as an All-Star this year) leave was a major mistake on the Lakers’ part.
There will need to be a big rethink in the off-season at the Lakers, but with James admitting a break from the high-pressure playoffs will give him time to “recalibrate body and mind,” you cannot rule out “King James” coming back better and stronger than ever to claim a fourth NBA title and bring back the good times to LA.