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World Cup 2018

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I got it wrong: referee admits error in Northern Ireland's World Cup play-off

By Gareth Hanna

The referee who awarded Switzerland their all-important penalty against Northern Ireland in the World Cup play-off has admitted that he made a mistake.

Ovidiu Hategan adjudged Corry Evans to have handled Xherdan Shaqiri's shot inside the area during the second half of the first leg at Windsor Park. Ricardo Rodríguez tucked away the spot-kick to score the only goal of the tie and end Northern Ireland's hopes of a place in Russia.

It was a decision that also ended Hategan's hopes of making it onto the pitch in Russia, as he was subsequently left off FIFA's 36-strong panel of officials.

"It's not a secret and I'm not hiding," he said. "It was a sad, unpleasant moment for me, sad because I made the mistake.

"It's painful because for three and a half years I had some results and very good benefits with my team."

Hategan didn't rule out going to Russia as a Video Assistant Referee, with the new technology possibly set to be used and 10 more officials expected to be named.

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