May 15, 2018 / 1:31 PM / 3 months ago

Serbian referee arrested after penalty howler, police say

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbian referee Srdjan Obradovic has been arrested and questioned on abuse of power charges after awarding a wrongful penalty kick in Sunday’s crucial top division soccer match, the country’s interior ministry (MUP) said on Tuesday.

“Obradovic is suspected of abusing his authority in the match between Spartak Subotica and Radnicki Nis to favour the home team against their rivals,” MUP said.

“He will be detained for 48 hours and handed over to the prosecutor in charge.”

Spartak won the match 2-0 to nose ahead of Radnicki into third place and a Europa League qualifying slot ahead of the last round of matches, courtesy of two penalties with the latter leaving viewers and the visitors perplexed.

A Radnicki defender deflected an innocuous low cross from the right with his feet making no contact with any of the home players, but Obradovic awarded the spot-kick and gesticulated that the would-be offender had handled the ball.

The howler also prompted Serbian FA chief Slavisa Kokeza to ask the soccer authorities to punish Obradovic accordingly and suspend him.

Serbian media invariably vilified Obradovic after the incident and showed video clips of a long list of his poor decisions in previous matches, notably a Belgrade derby between Serbia’s big two Red Star and Partizan in March 2017.

Obradovic allowed play to go on after the ball had clearly gone out of play for Red Star’s opener in a 1-1 draw, sparking bitter protests from Partizan’s officials and supporters.

Red Star won a record 28th Serbian league title earlier this month with games to spare ahead of second-placed Partizan, while Spartak and fourth-placed Radnicki, who are three points behind them, are battling it out for a Europa League berth.

Serbia’s top referee Milorad Mazic and his assistants have been entrusted with officiating the May 26 Champions League final between holders Real Madrid and Liverpool in Kiev.

Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editng by Pritha Sarkar

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