Saudi Arabia has banned referee Fahad Al-Mirdasi from football for life for a match-fixing attempt, weeks before he was due to fly to Russia to officiate at the 2018 World Cup, said the country's football federation [SAFF] in a statement.
Al-Mirdasi had confessed to offering to fix Saturday's King's Cup final on behalf of the Al Ittihad club, the SAFF said. It added that it had requested FIFA to hand him a lifetime global ban as well as removing him from the World Cup list. The 32-year-old referee made the approach to Al Ittihad chief Hamad Al-Senaie, who immediately handed over the WhatsApp messages to SAFF officials who in turn alerted the relevant government authorities, SAFF said. Al-Mirdasi was taken into police custody where he confessed to soliciting the corrupt payment, the statement from the SAFF Ethics Committee added.
Al Ittihad played Al Faisaly in the King's Cup final at Jeddah's King Abdullah Sports City on Saturday, winning in extra-time in a game refereed by Mark Clattenburg, who was appointed Head of Refereeing at the SAFF last year, and stepped in to replace Al-Mirdasi on the eve of the game. Al-Mirdasi has been on the FIFA referees list since 2011 and officiated at last year's Confederations Cup in Russia. "FIFA notes the information that referee Fahad Al-Mirdasi has allegedly been banned from all football-related activities by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF)", the world governing body told BBC Sport.