Steven Gerard criticizes refereeing after Al-Ettifaq's King's Cup exit
RIYADH — Following Al-Ettifaq's elimination from the King's Cup in the Round of 16 against Al-Nassr, English coach Steven Gerard voiced his discontent with refereeing decisions in a post-match press conference.
Gerard attributed the loss to the refereeing, stating, "Congratulations to Al-Nassr for the win. They have exceptional players and a fantastic coach, but we lost due to the referee." He further explained that the red card for Ali Hazzazi was, according to the referee, influenced by demands from Al-Nassr players. Gerard, drawing from his extensive football career, expressed his disbelief in the severity of the red card, suggesting that it should have been at most a yellow card.
The coach noted the overall competitiveness of the game but emphasized the significant role the referee played in shaping the outcome. Gerard also mentioned that his team was without strikers due to injuries, with young players stepping in. He commended their spirit and desire to win but asserted that the referee's decisions affected the match's outcome.
Regarding Al-Nassr, Gerard revealed that his team was aware of the vulnerabilities in Al-Nassr's defensive line but lacked a proficient striker to capitalize on those opportunities.
On a different note, Gerard welcomed the news that Australia had decided not to bid for the 2034 World Cup hosting rights, which he believed increased Saudi Arabia's chances of hosting the tournament, expressing his enthusiasm for a potential World Cup in the country.
In a separate development, Al-Ettifaq officially lodged a request with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation after their match against Al-Nassr, seeking access to the communications between the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and the on-field referee that led to Ali Hazzazi's red card.