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AIFF demands probe into Qatar's controversial goal vs India

Source: PTI
Last updated on: June 12, 2024 17:02 IST
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Team India

IMAGE: Qatar scored a controversial goal when Yousef Aymen's goal was ruled fair even though the ball visibly appeared to have gone out of play in the 73rd minute. Photograph: Kind courtesy Qatar Football Association/X

The All India Football Federation has sought an investigation into the controversial goal awarded to Qatar in the crucial World Cup qualifying match in Doha, AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey said, on Wednesday, urging the concerned authorities to "address the injustice".

The AIFF chief said India have asked for a thorough investigation into the goal that was allowed by South Korean referee Kim Woo-Sung despite the ball clearly going out of play during the must-win match that the visitors lost 1-2 at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, in Doha, on Tuesday.


"Victory and defeat are part and parcel of the game, we have learned to accept gracefully, although one of the two goals scored against India yesterday night left a few questions unanswered," Chaubey said in a statement.

"We have written to FIFA Head of Qualifiers, AFC Head of Referees, and the match commissioner, regarding the grave supervision error that practically cost us a place in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Round 3.

"Given it's severity, We call upon concerned officials for a thorough investigation. We have urged them to explore the possibilities of sporting compensation to address the injustice and we trust that FIFA and AFC will take necessary steps," he added.

Iran's Hamed Momeni was the match commissioner for the game. The role requires him to supervise the organisation of the match and ensure that FIFA regulations are adhered to during the game.

The goal sparked widespread outrage as it deprived the Indians of what would have been their maiden entry into the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for the 2026 edition.

In the 73rd minute, Abdullah Alahrak's free-kick saw Yousef Ayem attempt a header, which was saved by India skipper and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

But as the custodian lay on the ground seeing the ball roll over the line, Hashmi Hussein kicked it into play with Aymen slotting it into the net.

Since the ball had visibly rolled out of play, the game should have stopped and then resumed with a corner-kick in this case as Sandhu was the last player to come in contact with the ball before it went out.

To the frustration of the Indian players, the referee awarded the goal to Qatar and despite the visiting team protesting vehemently, the on-field official upheld his decision.

According to FIFA rules, "the ball is out of play if it is wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air."

India coach Igor Stimac later expressed his dismay by stating that the "irregular" goal killed his team's dream.

"Qatar were lucky tonight, especially because they came back from 0-1 with an irregular goal. I can confirm that now because I have seen the replay. The whole ball was out of play and the goal was given," Stimac didn't mince words as he spoke about what went wrong in the game.

"It shouldn't be happening in today's football because that goal changed everything in this game. It could've happened to Qatar today and I would say the same. I'm not looking for an excuse.

"I feel sad that when you have 23 boys working really hard and living the dream, to achieve something, and that dream is killed because we didn't stop such things from happening," the Croat added.

The loss, however, cannot hide the fact that India have been consistently poor in their campaign, the lowest point being a home loss to Afghanistan. But on Tuesday, which was India's first game after the talismanic Sunil Chhetri's retirement, Stimac said his players gave their everything and he had no complaints.

"They were fantastic. All Indian fans can be proud of their team today. We controlled the game for a major part, with a high press against a good Qatari team. You could say that the chances India had were better than Qatar's," he said.

Apart from the baffling Qatari equaliser, Stimac also highlighted a few Indian shortcomings.

"We should have scored thrice in the first half to kill the game definitely," he said.

"But there is something which is missing in Indian football, and that's clinical reactions inside the box," he pointed out.

Qatar's equaliser by Yousef Aymen in the 73rd minute took the wind out of India's sails, totally turning the momentum in the hosts' favour, who completed the comeback in the 85th minute with a brilliant Ahmed Al-Rawi long-ranger that Gurpreet Singh Sandhu couldn't have done much about.

A victory would have given India a place in the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for the first time, alongside direct qualification for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.

Now, India's bid to make the continental tournament for the third successive time will take them to the Asian Cup Qualifiers Third Round, which is scheduled to begin in March 2025.

"It's kind of an injustice to my boys tonight because we were very close to winning this game and qualifying for the third round, but it didn't happen. Congratulations to the Qatari team," Stimac said.

Sandhu called it an "unfortunate result" demonstrated that "no one will hand us anything, we have to take it!"

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