FIFA leaves playoff controversy referee off World Cup list

November 18, 2017

Referee Ovidiu Alin Hategan speaks to Switzerland's Granit Xhaka during the World Cup qualifying play-off first leg soccer match between Northern Ireland and Switzerland at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday Nov. 9, 2017. (Brian Lawless/PA via AP)

ZURICH (AP) — The referee who awarded the penalty that eliminated Northern Ireland from the World Cup playoffs has been dropped from FIFA’s pool of match officials preparing for the tournament.

FIFA has published a list of 36 referees to attend a World Cup seminar from Nov. 25-29 in Abu Dhabi that does not include Ovidiu Hategan of Romania.

FIFA says its final selection is planned for January.

Hategan was at a 61-man World Cup session in April, and is the only one of eight referees who handled European playoff games this month to be left off Saturday’s list.

His decision to award Switzerland a penalty against Northern Ireland for a disputed handball in Belfast led to the only goal in the two-leg playoff.

FIFA also has not picked any British referees among the 36.

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