REVEALED: Linesman asked Erling Haaland to autograph his red and yellow cards after Manchester City’s win over Borussia Dortmund ‘to auction off for an autism charity he has worked with for five years’
- Octavian Sovre was criticised for requesting Haaland’s signature in the tunnel
- The official approached the Dortmund star after their European tie against City
- But the Romanian has been collecting souvenirs from footballers for five years
- He auctions them off to raise money for a charity supporting those with autism
Romanian linesman Octavian Sovre asked for Erling Haaland’s autograph on Tuesday night in order to auction it off for an autism charity, it has been revealed.
The official was criticised for presumed unprofessionalism after approaching Borussia Dortmund star Haaland in the tunnel after the German side’s Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City on Tuesday night.
But, as reported by Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor, Sovre has collected signatures from top footballers for the last five years to financially contribute to a centre supporting adults suffering from severe autism in his country.
Assistant ref Octavian Sovre asked for Erling Haaland’s autograph in the tunnel on Tuesday
Sovre was pictured running after Norwegian striker Haaland, asking for a signature – seemingly breaking the unwritten rule for neutral officials – before the 20-year-old eventually signed his yellow and red cards.
Haaland did not seem troubled by the request, and smiled with his arm around the assistant referee.
However, Sovre’s actions drew criticism from BT Sport pundits, unaware of his intentions.
Owen Hargreaves said: ‘They had a difficult first-half and they got a lot of things wrong in that first-half. You can be a fan, but you can’t do that in front of the other players, it just doesn’t look right.’
Borussia Dortmund star Haaland was pictured smiling with his arm around the official
Ex-City centre half Joleon Lescott added: ‘There’s never a right time for that, it just doesn’t bode well for the officials. It’s a childish thing to see.’
The experienced Sovre, on FIFA’s list of officials for the 17th straight year, was also keen to get the signature of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, but only managed to collar Haaland.
SOS Autism Bihor Association president Simona Zlibut said: ‘That autograph is for a noble cause.
‘Maybe people don’t know, but Tavi (Sovre) is directly involved in supporting this Association. He has helped us a lot all these years!
Referee Ovidiu Hategan controversially blew his whistle with Jude Bellingham set to score
The officials also came in for criticism for one of their first-half decisions, with referee Ovidiu Hategan controversially blowing his whistle after Jude Bellingham won the ball from Ederson and was about to tap it into an open net.
Rather than let the 17-year-old put the ball in and then check the incident using VAR, Hategan blew prematurely, although replays showed Bellingham won it cleanly, if anything the City goalkeeper fouling him with his follow through.
City eventually won the game 2-1 thanks to Phil Foden’s 90th minute strike, with Dortmund holding their own in an even game and about to snatch a 1-1 draw after Marco Reus’ late goal cancelled out Kevin de Bruyne’s opener.