Belfast Telegraph

Confirmed: Northern Ireland's penalty blunder referee Ovidiu Hategan misses out on World Cup spot

By Gareth Hanna

Ovidiu Hategan will not be working at the World Cup this summer.

The referee, who admitted he was wrong to award a penalty against Northern Ireland in their World Cup play-off defeat to Switzerland, has been left off FIFA's final list of 36 referees and 63 assistants who will officiate at this summer's tournament in Russia.

Hategan had been included in FIFA's original panel of 61 officials last April but, after he penalised Corry Evans for a supposed handball, he was omitted from FIFA's next list of 36 referees for a seminar in November.

Now his omission from the World Cup panel has been confirmed as FIFA released the official list.

Hategan had hoped to be the first Romanian referee to officiate at the World Cup finals since 1986 - the same year Northern Ireland last appeared at the tournament. The 37-year-old refereed at the Euro 2016 finals, where he took charge of Northern Ireland's defeat to Poland and the Republic of Ireland's win over Italy.

After Xherdan Shaqiri's shot struck Evans' arm, Ricardo Rodríguez slotted home the penalty for what proved the only goal of the tie, agonisingly ending Northern Ireland's bid for qualification.

Meanwhile, there will be no British referee on duty at this summer's finals for the first time since 1938.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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