RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal have demanded an investigation into the controversial AFC Champions League final, calling it a “black spot” on Asian football and raising suspicions about possible match-fixing.
The Saudi giants took aim at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after going down 1-0 on aggregate to Western Sydney Wanderers in a two-legged final which ended in acrimony on Saturday.
Al Hilal had several penalty appeals waved away over the course of the two legs and Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura, known for a spot-fix blunder at this year’s World Cup, took charge of the second fixture.
“What happened in the second leg of the AFC Champions League final is a black spot in the history of Asian football and looting of the right of an entire people who has been waiting for happiness and enjoyment of fair competition,” a statement said.
It added that “blunders” in the final “appeared suspiciously and tarnished the reputation of the AFC, which raised many questions about the AFC championships and the integrity and fairness of its competitions, and the need to ensure the absence of any effect of betting offices scattered among football”.
Saturday’s game ended in ugly scenes as Al Hilal’s Nasser Al-Shamrani spat at Matthew Spiranovic, sparking a melee. Al Hilal players also removed their runners-up medals as soon as they received them.
Al Hilal urged the AFC to investigate who was responsible for selecting the match referees, claiming they waved away two “explicit penalties” in the first leg and four in the second.
The club took particular issue with the appointment of Nishimura, who was de-selected from World Cup duty after giving hosts Brazil a highly debatable penalty in their tournament opener against Croatia.