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 SAFF's official Twitter account. "Mark Clattenburg has been appointed to referee the final instead". Al-Mirdasi was also removed from the AFC Champions League match Jeonbuk Motors - Buriram United, where he will be replaced by Nawaf Shukralla.
Al-Mirdasi (photo) 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”.
Source: Arab News