Romanian linesman Octavian Sovre has reportedly been removed from the team of officials for an upcoming game in his homeland as the fallout continues over his request for an autograph from Borusia Dortmund star Erling Haaland.
His actions triggered mixed reactions, with some stars, including former City defender Joleon Lescott, calling his behavior “childish.”
However, it was later revealed that the official had sought out the 20-year-old superstar to sign yellow and red cards from the match so an autism charity in his homeland could auction them off.
Romanian sports-news outlet Gazeta Sporturilor reported that Sovre has been involved with the charity, Asociația S.O.S. Autism Bihor, which helps young adults, for more than five years and had regularly provided them with mementos with which to raise funds.
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Nonetheless, the explanation didn’t seem to suit Romania’s Central Commission of Arbitrators, which has reportedly excluded the linesman from the upcoming match between Universitatea Craiova and CFR Cluj, at which he was scheduled to officiate.
According to Gazeta Sporturilor, the commission’s chairman, Kyros Vassaras, decided to take the step in the wake of the controversy, replacing him with another official, Radu Ghinguleac.
UEFA said it had reminded match officials not to seek autographs from players, calling it “unacceptable.”
“If you want to be respected as much as the players, why would you ask for their autograph or their shirt? Do they ask you for the same?” said UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti.
“This is simply unacceptable, this is a matter of dignity and don’t forget about the number of TV cameras at UEFA matches – they catch everything.”
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