An Egyptian referee, head-butted during the Arab Championship Final in Alexandria on Sunday, says he let the match continue because cancelling it would “not be good for Egypt.”
Referee Ibrahim Nour El-Din was attacked by players, officials and fans of Jordanian club Al Faisaly who lost 3-2 to Tunisia’s Esperance after extra-time.
Esperance’s 102nd-minute winner sparked violent protests from Faisaly who immediately vented their fury on the referee, claiming the goal was offside.
Despite being head-butted and elbowed as he walked off the pitch, the referee felt he was right in allowing the match to continue.
“I decided not to cancel the match because it would not be good for Egypt,” Ibrahim Nour El Din said after the game.
“One of Al Faisaly’s officials came to me and said sorry after his players attacked me, but then suddenly he also beat me.
“I accepted the insults from Al Faisaly because this tournament was on Egyptian soil and I did not want to fail – especially because it was the final,” he added.
Egyptian police arrested 38 people who were later freed, and there are reports that the Jordanian Minister of Sport called his Egyptian counterpart to apologise.
It is the third time in Esperance’s history that the Tunisians have been crowned Arab champions, having also achieved the feat in 1993 and 2009.