ALMATY, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Kazakh club Taraz have threatened to withdraw from the country's premier league in protest after the football federation annulled their victory at the weekend and banned the referee for life.
The federation ordered a replay of the match, in which Taraz beat Tobol Kostanai 1-0, and issued a life ban to referee Sergei Pasko as punishment for "biased" officiating.
His assistant, Sergei Vasyutin, was banned until the end of the season, the federation said in a statement.
"Referees often make mistakes. In this case, they weren't simply mistakes. It was bias," federation spokesman Izmail Bzarov said by telephone.
"We are striving to make sure that our football is honest."
He said the federation's charter contained a clause allowing a match to be replayed in the event officials are ruled to have been biased, he said. The ruling by the referees' commission was published on the federation's website, www.kff.kz.
Taraz defeated home side Tobol Kostanai with a disputed penalty by Senegalese midfielder Abdulai Diakate just before halftime. Both sides had a player sent off and Pasko disallowed a late equaliser, prompting furious protests from Tobol players.
Bzarov said an internal investigation was under way to determine whether Pasko had displayed a personal bias or had been bribed, in which case it would pursue a criminal case.
The decision to replay the match, unprecedented in the 20-year history of the Kazakh premier league, has angered officials at Taraz, a club based in the southern Kazakh region of Zhambul.
Deputy regional governor Gani Sadibekov, who is also president of the Zhambul region football federation, said Taraz would withdraw from the league if made to replay the match. The decision can still be appealed.
"If this incomprehensible decision remains in force, not only will we refuse to take part in the rematch, we won't play again this season," Sadibekov said in an interview with local newspaper Znamya Truda, published on its website, www.ztgzt.kz.
Tobol coach Vyacheslav Grozny said he welcomed the decision. "It shows the battle against corruption in Kazakh football is about action, not words," he said in comments posted on the federation's website.
Pending any possible appeal, the three points won by Taraz remain in force. The club is currently fourth in the 14-team premier league, a point behind third-placed Tobol and six points behind leaders and champions Shakhtyor Karaganda.
The season ends in October and the top three teams, plus the cup winners, qualify automatically for European competition.
In 2005, FIFA ordered that a World Cup qualifying match in neighbouring Uzbekistan be replayed after the referee mistakenly awarded a free-kick to opponents Bahrain when an Uzbek forward encroached during a penalty. The kick should have been retaken.
Uzbekistan won the original match 1-0. The replayed match ended 1-1 and Bahrain won the tie on away goals after a goalless draw in the second leg. (Reporting by Robin Paxton; editing by Martyn Herman)