Romanian assistant referee Octavian Sovre’s decision to ask Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland to autograph his yellow and red cards raised some eyebrows but the charity that is set to benefit from a cash boost are not complaining.
The signed cards were donated to the SOS Autism Bihor centre and Simona Zlibut, who oversees a therapy centre set up by parents, said they will be auctioned later this month on Facebook.
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“The red and yellow-signed cards which my kindergarten classmate Octavian donated to our SOS Autism Bihor centre will be used for a noble cause,” she told Reuters.
Zlibut’s 21-year-old daughter is autistic and she said the centre depends on donations.
“My little girl doesn’t know when to go to the bathroom, she cannot eat alone … costs are enormous,” she said.
Sovre managed to get Haaland to sign the cards at the end of the Champions League quarterfinal game between Dortmund and Manchester City at the Etihad Staidum on Tuesday.
It is not normal protocol for match officials to ask players for autographs after games.
Zlibut added the money raised by the auction is to aid therapy of 30 autistic people aged below 47 at the centre in the western city of Oradea, on the border with Hungary.
“The state gives me for my daughter, 500 lei [$120.61] per month,” she said. “One cannot imagine what I can we do with this meagre sum … we, parents, rely on donations, we auction skirts, photographs, autographs, whatever we get, to make up for the huge shortfall.”
Zlibut also said that former footballers such as Gheorghe Hagi and goalkeeper Helmuth Duckadam, who was in the Steaua Bucharest team that won the European Cup in 1986, had helped the centre in the past.
Haaland is the most sought after talent in the European game and has been linked with a move to City and their local rivals Manchester United as well as Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.