Football: Iraq TV commentator suspended for a year after insulting Saudi ref

Ali Salem (R) of UAE heads the ball during the 21st Gulf Cup final between UAE and Iraq on January 18, 2013 in Manama.

BAGHDAD - Iraq's state broadcaster has announced the suspension of a television commentator after he insulted a Saudi referee live on air during last week's Gulf Cup final between Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

During Iraq's 1-2 loss in extra time, Alaa Sarhan had criticised what he said were biased decisions by referee Khalil Jalal al-Ghamidi, and then said, "Oh Allah, do not guide Ghamidi or the people to whom Ghamidi belongs", in an apparent reference to Saudi Arabia.

Iraqiya sports TV chief Hamza Hussein told AFP on Tuesday that the channel had suspended Sarhan for one year, adding: "Our work is based on respect for everyone and avoidance of insulting anyone.

"What the commentator did was not right and we have made an appropriate decision in this regard and suspended him from work."

Sarhan apologised for his comments in on-air remarks to the Saudi sports channel Line Sport on Monday. The UAE defeated former Asian champions Iraq 2-1 in extra time to claim their second Gulf Cup title in a thrilling final on Friday.

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