Qatar vs. Ecuador: Romanian referee made his World Cup debut as a reserve official in opening match
István Kovács, a Romanian-born football referee, was enlisted as the fourth referee of the FIFA World Cup opening game between Qatar and Ecuador at the jam-packed Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor on November 20.
The 38-year-old Carei native was joined by Italian officials Daniel Orsato, Ciro Carbone, and Alessandro Giallatini, having been officiating football games since 2010.
A familiar name in the world’s biggest stages, Kovács officiated UEFA Conference League’s first-ever final in history between AS Roma and Feyenoord last summer.
Other Romanians, namely Vasile Marinescu and Ovidiu Artene, were also included among the 69 assistant referees selected by the FIFA Referees Committee to officiate the world’s biggest sporting event.
The match between Qatar and Ecuador ended in a comfortable 0-2 win for Ecuador thanks to captain Enner Valencia’s brace in minutes 16 and 31, making Qatar the first World Cup host country to lose its opening game since the 1930s.
The striker appeared to open the scoring in the first three minutes of the game with his header, but officials ruled it out for offside – a controversial take in an insane VAR drama – but it didn’t take him too long to find the net again.
Ecuador dominated the whole game and prevented the Qataris to have a shot on target. The latter will face Senegal and Netherlands on November 25 and 29, in what could have been an uphill battle for them to turn their bad luck.
(Photo source: Romanian Football Federation’s website/Sports Picture)