SYDNEY, Jan 24, 2015 (AFP) – An American namesake of Asian Cup referee Ben Williams has been bombarded with Facebook messages from Iran after a controversial red card in their quarter-final loss to Iraq.
Ben Williams of Baltimore, Maryland, received nearly a thousand friend requests from Iranians after Team Melli were sent tumbling out by their arch-rivals in a dramatic penalty shootout on Friday.
The Australian referee with the same name incurred the wrath of Iranian fans when he booked Mehrdad Pooladi for an innocuous challenge and then again for simulation.
Iran were leading 1-0 at the time but the score ended 3-3 after extra time and the three-time champions lost 7-6 on penalties.
“Ok, so I woke up to 992 (and growing!) friend requests from people living in Iran,” posted the American Williams, who was apparently unaware of the match in Australia.
“Is this a problem other people are having or is my popularity finally taking off?”
The referee’s Facebook page was also defaced with profane messages following the tempestuous quarter-final in Canberra.
When Williams booked Pooladi for simulation, he appeared to have forgotten the earlier yellow card and he ran off before he was reminded, and then returned and brandished red.
It follows an earlier game where Iran coach Carlos Queiroz was critical of Williams, earning a $3,000 fine. The Portuguese was again furious with the referee on Friday.
“Can he sleep tonight?” asked the former Real Madrid and Portugal boss, who was restrained as he tried to approach Williams at half-time.
“It’s just a question. If it’s necessary I put my knees to the ground to show my respect and humble attitude to ask him how we understand this decision, you tell me.”
The Asian Football Confederation did not immediately comment on the performance of Williams, who officiated at last year’s World Cup, or the referees committee’s decision to appoint him for a second Iran game.
Any possible action against Queiroz will be discussed at the next disciplinary committee meeting, a spokesman told