Furious Maltese club lodge complaint to Uefa over performance of Irish referee

Furious Maltese club lodge complaint to Uefa over performance of Irish referee

Referee Rob Hennessy 

Maltese club Hibernians have lodged an official protest with Uefa following the performance of Irish referee, Rob Hennessy, in their European Conference League defeat to Riga last week.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg, Hibernians were poised to become the first Maltese to reach a European play-off phase with a half-hour of Thursday’s home leg left to play.

A dubious offside call denied Jurgen Degabriele a second goal for Hibs but that was only the start of the uproar as Riga forced extra-time by scoring in the last of six stoppage-time minutes.

Hibernians had two players, along with manager Stefano Sanderra, sent off in the closing stages, the depleted side eventually going down 4-1.

The backlash was incessant, with Hibernian’s grievances supported by their Government. Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri described the refereeing decisions as “dubious”.

Limerick native Hennessy, employed as the FAI’s Referee Executive, was joined at the Centenary Stadium in Ta'Qali by fellow Irish officials, assistants Allen Lynch and Emmet Dynan, along with fourth official Bernard Connolly.

In response, Maltese Premier League club Hibernians have said: “We have sent a letter of official protest to Uefa following the unacceptable behaviour of the refereeing team in last Thursday’s match against FC Riga. The club has asked for an official investigation into the incidents that characterised the match.

“Whilst we know that this will not overturn the result we remain adamant that justice with Hibernians FC is done.” 

Mr Hennessy joined Fifa’s International Referees panel in January 2017 at the age of 26.

Then a school teacher, he had refereed in the Clare Schoolboy League and Clare District League, progressing to the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division panel in 2015. Hennessy officiated at the U19 League Final between Cork City and Limerick the same year.

He took charge of his first World Cup qualifier in March of this year, the Group E meeting of Belarus and Estonia in Minsk.

The FAI have been contacted for comment.

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