At the end of the game, an assistant referee was caught asking Haaland for an autograph. Not a controversy for Guardiola.
It is a scene to say the least which took place Tuesday night at the end of the meeting in Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund. While the entire German staff railed against the referee’s decision not to grant a goal to BvB, one of the assistant referees of the meeting took advantage of his proximity to Haaland to ask for an autograph.
If players, friends or idols, have a habit of exchanging their shirts at the end of matches (even in these times of Covid), seeing a member of the refereeing body make such a request to a player can be seen as a possibility of not being objective in the field.
The course of the first round of this quarter-final of the Champions League and this decision against Bellingham showed that there was no conflict of interest, quite the contrary.
Is it because the Citizens have won or simply because he sees nothing wrong, still it is that Pep Guardiola preferred to smile at a press conference.
“They told me about it but I haven’t seen it”, The former Barca and Bayern Munich coach said of the autograph request. “Maybe he’s a Haaland fan so why not?”
“Maybe it was for his son and daughter. I’ve never seen such a request before, but they did a great job tonight.”
“The referees were great, the game was not a problem. The unwhistled penalty after the VAR made sense, people told me it wasn’t a penalty.”
“And after Bellingham’s action, his leg is higher than expected, so the linesman made the right decision. It didn’t have an influence like it has in the past.”
While Pep Guardiola is showing himself to be a fairly good player, it’s not sure that UEFA will take the assistant referee’s behavior with a smile. But as we like to point out, referees are first and foremost human beings.