The touching reason an assistant referee broke convention to ask Erling Haaland for his autograph has emerged.
Romanian official Octavian Sovre watied for Haaland in the tunnel after Borussia Dortmund’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester City in the Champions League. He then requested the Norwegian striker sign his yellow and red cards, with City boss Pep Guardiola claiming he had never seen such an incident in his career.
Sovre drew criticism for taking Haaland aside after the match and his actions were described as “childish” by former City and England defender Joleon Lescott.
But the official was not after a souvenir for his son or daughter, as Guardiola suggested he may have been.
Instead, Sovre was collecting items he could donate for auction to raise funds for a centre which provides therapy for those with autism in his native country.
That’s according to Romanian outlet Gazeta Sporturilor , which notes Sovre has supported the centre in the Bihor county since 2015.
The report claims he has donated countless mementos including players’ shirts, photographs and autographs to help support SOS Autism Bihor.
Is it appropriate for officials to approach players for autographs after a match, even if it’s for charity? Have your say in the comments.
Sovre is believed to have wanted Guardiola’s signature too, but only managed to find Haaland after the full-time whistle blew at the Etihad.
Nonetheless, the assistant referee will be delighted to have secured two signatures from one of the hottest talents in Europe, with the yellow and red cards set to go to auction at an annual gala later this year.
Sovre’s generosity has even seen him named an honorary member of the SOS Autism Bihor Association, the report adds.
The touching explanation also allays concerns which were raised by former City midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who said: “You can’t do that in front of other players”.
“There is never a right time for that,” added his BT Sport colleague Lescott. “It just doesn’t look right or bode well for the officials and the set up.”
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