Yesterday, after 119 minutes of goalless play, the referee was hit on the head by a lighter, after a flare exploded right next to him in the Europa League qualifying match between Craiova and Honvéd. The incident resulted in the match being suspended for more than 30 minutes then the referee decided to continue the match and the Romanian side won the penalty shootout. Honvéd takes legal steps as the Hungarian club thinks the referee should have called off the game after the serious violation of the rules.
With the score 0-0, as it was in the first leg, a brawl broke out between players in the last minute of extra time. A smoke bomb was thrown from the stands at the pitch and exploded near referee Arnold Hunter. Within moments a lighter struck the referee and he needed treatment. An ambulance arrived on the pitch and the match did not restart for more than half an hour.
The referee team walked off amid lengthy discussions over how to deal with the escalating scenes. Honvéd manager Giuseppe Sannino appeared to demand the tie be called off, but in the end, the game resumed with the fourth official taking a charge. In the shootout, in which only former Liverpool striker David N’gog scored for Honvéd, Craiova won 3-1 and progressed into the third qualifying round.
Hungarian side Honvéd said in a statement that the match should have been called off following the scandalous scenes during the game. The club announced that they will file a complaint against the decision to continue the match, as
What happened at the end of the match was unacceptable to our club. The leadership of Honvéd decided to lodge a complaint over the decision to continue the match under these circumstances, putting the referee or even players at risk.
According to the Europa League rules, a club may lodge a complaint to the European Football Association within 24 hours of the end of the match, if it objects to the validity or outcome of the game. The rules also state that clubs in the Europa League must take responsibility for the behavior of their players, officials on behalf of the club as well as their supporters. The home team is also responsible for pre-match, mid-term and post-game security.
Origo asked former referee Ferenc Bede about the case, who said that a few years back rules had changed. According to the new rules, in these cases, it is now necessary to strive to complete the match, as a so-called isolated case. He also talked about the need to consider the scandal in case the referee calls off the match.
A former Romanian FIFA referee, Ion Crăciunescu, also spoke on the matter: he told Digi Sport that he was aware of two similar cases where the game continued after a member of the referee team was thrown with an object but later, in both cases, UEFA took the win from the team responsible for the incidents. This could mean that it is possible that Craiova will lose the match due to their supporters’ aggressive behaviour. Crăciunescu also said that the referee could only request a replacement if he was that injured he could not continue the match, however, Hunter made decisions and given out cards before the fourth referee took the charge.