India request FIFA investigate controversial Qatar goal in World Cup qualifier

By Hieu Luong   June 14, 2024 | 02:02 am PT
India request FIFA investigate controversial Qatar goal in World Cup qualifier
A screenshot of the World Cup qualifier on June 11, 2024 shows Qatar's Abdullah Alahrak getting the ball back into the pitch, while India players have stopped, thinking the ball had gone out of the line,
Qatar's controversial equalizer in their 2-1 victory over India in the World Cup qualifiers created a wave of criticism and FIFA were requested to review the incident.

Before the final match of the second qualifying round, India were second in Group A with five points, the same as Afghanistan but with a better goal difference. Meanwhile, Qatar secured the top position with 13 points, while Kuwait were last with four points.

In the final round on June 11, India played Qatar, while Kuwait took on Afghanistan. India needed to beat Qatar to maintain second place in the group. They got off to a good start with the opening goal in the 37th minute by Lallianzuala Chhangte.

The turning point came in the 73rd minute. Qatar crossed the ball into the penalty area from a free kick on the right flank for Youssef Ayman to head in, but it was blocked by goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

All India's players then stopped as they thought that the ball had went out for a corner, but suddenly Abdullah Alahrak kicked the ball back into the pitch for Ayman to finish and the goal was given.

India's players reacted fiercely to the decision, but the South Korean referee still stuck to his decison. VAR was not used in the second qualifying round of the 2026 World Cup, so the play was not reviewed.

Television cameras also could not confirm whether the ball had went out or not, as goalkeeper Gurpreet's body blocked the view.

In the 81st minute, Kuwait scored against Afghanistan, forcing India to push forward to find a goal. However, Ahmed Al Rawi sealed a 2-1 victory for Qatar in the 85th minute. This result helped Qatar and Kuwait advance, while India missed their chance to advance to the third qualifying round the World Cup for the first time.

The backlash soon spread from India to social media worldwide. The ghost goal was compared by netizens to France's goal against Ireland in the 2010 World Cup playoff. In the 13th minute of extra time, Thierry Henry used his hands to control the ball in the penalty area and then passed it to William Gallas to score the only goal of the match, sparking anger from Irish football fans.

A day after the incident, All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey said winning and losing was part of football, but Qatar's goal left some unanswered questions.

The AIFF has sent a letter to the FIFA's World Cup qualifiers organizer, the Head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Referee Committee and match supervisor, to review Qatar's equalizer.

"Because of the important factor of the incident, we call on the relevant parties to investigate this thoroughly. We want them to consider a compensation plan to bring justice for India. We trust FIFA and AFC to take the necessary steps to do that," Chaubey told Indian newspaper The Hindu.

The defeat against Qatar forced India to compete in the qualifiers of the 2027 Asian Cup. Meanwhile, Qatar will join 17 other teams in the third qualifying round of the 2026 World Cup.

The 18 teams will be divided into three groups of six, selecting the top two teams from each group to play 2026 World Cup. The six teams ranked third and fourth will enter the fourth qualifying round, dividing into two groups of three and play a neutral venue. The two top teams of each group will qualify for the 2026 World Cup. The two second-place teams will compete in two rounds of the play-off and the winner will enter an intercontinental play-off.

Qatar's controversial goal against India in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, June 11, 2024.

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