Officials suspended for 'serious errors' in Argentina-Brazil WC qualifier

by IANS |

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Nov 18 (IANS) The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) has suspended Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha and video assistant Esteban Ostojich for "serious errors" in Argentina's home World Cup qualifier against Brazil.

The decision relates to an incident in which Argentina defender Nicolas Otamendi struck Brazil forward Raphinha with an elbow to the face during the first half of Tuesday's match in San Juan, which ended in a goalless draw.

The knock left Leeds United's Raphinha with a bloody wound in the mouth that required five stitches at halftime.

In a video released by CONMEBOL on Wednesday, Ostojich is heard telling Cunha that he considered the foul a "yellow-card offense." Despite the recommendation, Cunha opted not to caution Otamendi, nor did he award a free-kick against the Benfica center back, reports Xinhua.

"The performance of the chief referee, Andres Ismael Cunha Soca Vargas, and the [video assistant referee], Esteban Daniel Ostojich Vega ... was technically analyzed by [the referees' committee], which concluded that they committed serious and manifest errors in their duty," read a CONMEBOL statement.

It said that Otamendi had "put at risk the physical integrity" of the Leeds United player, adding that both match officials were suspended "indefinitely."

The Brazilian Football Confederation said on Wednesday night that it would send an official complaint to FIFA and request that Otamendi be banned.

Brazil manager Tite told reporters after the match it was "inconceivable" that the referee chose not to take action after consulting the video assistant.

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