Lebanese football referee Bachir Awasa spoke on Friday about his decision to quit officiating after video of him being attacked after issuing red and yellow cards became an Internet sensation.
Asawa said that he has had enough and has decided to quit after a match between al-Nahda and Al-Salam Zgharta last weekend in which Al-Nahda players and staff chased and kicked him across the pitch because they were angry over Awasa’s decision to issue a yellow and then a red card.
The incident, caught on tape by a local television channel, has caused a stir in Lebanon.
“Whenever we issue a red card we expect a reaction from the player and it happens, that’s why when I issued the red card I tried to step back in order to prevent to any reaction from the player and indeed that is what happened,” said Awasa.
“He ran after me and attacked me, when he tried to hit me I tried to run and then coach Mahmoud Seif Eddine also attacked me and other staff ran after me and things got out of hand and I tried to run from one place to the other.”
Awasa says what happened was serious and he did not expect to get out alive.
“From the reaction of the players and the staff I expected to be harmed in a grave way, I expected it because of the way this team dealt with me and the history of this team over the past years, to be honest I did not expect to get out alive,’’ he said in an interview.
Awasa is now calling on Lebanese football association to change its internal laws to guarantee more protection for referees. He added that he has decided to quit and his decision is final.
“It’s my final decision in order to protect this game and to protect referees and I demand something really necessary, which is to change the internal rules of the game to guarantee more protection for referees,’’ said Awasa, who has been a referee since 1999.
Lebanon’s football scene has been also racked with another scandal this week after the Asian Football Confederation told Reuters it is investigating a report of match-fixing in Lebanon, where 24 players have been sanctioned following allegations that international and regional games were rigged.