A 96th-minute penalty that sparked a punch-up, a sending off and a pitch invasion has led the Iraqi Football Union to order a national league match to be replayed, an official said on Sunday.
The game between league leaders Dohuk from the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq and visitors Electricity Club of Baghdad was poised at 0-0 when the referee decided on the spot-kick, enraging the visiting team.
An Electricity player who refused to allow the penalty to be taken was left needing hospital treatment after he was attacked with an iron bar.
“In the 96th minute the referee awarded a penalty to Dohuk when the match should have been over,” Electricity Club official Majid Hamid said. “Only five minutes of extra time had been awarded, but it was extended to six minutes.”
Electricity player Ali Wahib was red-carded for protesting the penalty, but he refused to leave the field and would not let the spot-kick be taken.
“One of the Dohuk club’s people then beat Ali Wahib on the head with an iron bar and he had to be taken to hospital. We then decided to withdraw our team from the field to protect them from Dohuk’s supporters,” Hamid said.
Stakes were high in the match as home side Dohuk are leading the league and Electricity are fighting relegation.
“The referee gave a penalty in extra time that led supporters to attack the players,” said Dohuk soccer chief Khalil Hassan, who denied his players or staff were involved in the melee.
An official of the Iraqi Football Union told reporters it has ordered that the game be replayed behind closed doors at a neutral venue.
The visitors, who are supported by the Electricity Ministry, have lodged an official complaint to the Youth and Sports Ministry, demanding an investigation.
The Electricity Ministry waded into the row over what it termed the “inexcusable assault” and demanded compensation for acts of violence by security staff assigned to protect the visiting team.
“An opposition player hit the player when he was unconscious,” it said in an official statement. “The team was then assaulted by guards that the Dohuk governor had assigned to accompany them to their residence and who also smashed the windows of the team bus.”