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Saturday, 8 February, 2003, 13:15 GMT
Ghandour's memory lane
Spain's Fernando Hierro making a complaint to El Ghandour at World Cup 2002
Ghandour was criticised for his handling of the South Korea/Spain match

At the end of December 2002, Egyptian Gamal El-Ghandour decided to retire from international refereeing.

Though he was permitted to officiate at the local level, he subsequently decided to quit the game altogether.

Referees are human and there wouldn't be a match without mistakes

Gamal El-Ghandour

"I have 23 years of experience in which I blew my whistle in some of the best known stadia in the world.

"This is the time to say goodbye, even though it is a hard thing to do," said the former World Cup referee.

Ghandour told BBC Sport he was pleased with the achievements made in his 23-year career.

The 45 year-old officiated in two World Cups - France 1998 and Korea/Japan 2002.

He also has the distinction of being the only African referee to officiate twice in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, the 1996 Asian Cup and 2000 European Championships.

Ghandour was centre referee in four African Nations Cup tournaments -1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002.

The father of four children also officiated in the finals of every African continental club competition and the 1996 Olympics games.

El-Ghandour's handling of the 2002 World Cup match between Korea and Spain provoked much controversy.

The Spanish sports daily "AS" accused Ghandour of accepted a Hyundai car as a "gift" from Fifa vice-president Chung Mong-Joon.

This was to influence him to give crucial calls in favour of South Korea. Ghandour threatened to sue for libel at the time.

But months later, he admitted that he has made 'some controversial decisions' in his career.

"Referees are human and there wouldn't be a match without mistakes," he admitted.

Ghandour now works as a referees analyst for television and also plans to establish a referees school.

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


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