Romanian linesman Octavian Sovre asked for Erling Haaland’s autograph on Tuesday night in order to auction it off for an autism charity, it has been revealed.
The official was criticised for presumed unprofessionalism after approaching Borussia Dortmund star Haaland in the tunnel after the German side’s Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City on Tuesday night.
But, as reported by Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor, Sovre has collected signatures from top footballers for the last five years to financially contribute to a centre supporting adults suffering from severe autism in his country.
Sovre was pictured running after Norwegian striker Haaland, asking for a signature – seemingly breaking the unwritten rule for neutral officials – before the 20-year-old eventually signed his yellow and red cards.
Haaland did not seem troubled by the request, and smiled with his arm around the assistant referee. However, Sovre’s actions drew criticism from BT Sport pundits, unaware of his intentions.
Owen Hargreaves said: ‘They had a difficult first-half and they got a lot of things wrong in that first-half. You can be a fan, but you can’t do that in front of the other players, it just doesn’t look right.’
Ex-City centre half Joleon Lescott added: ‘There’s never a right time for that, it just doesn’t bode well for the officials. It’s a childish thing to see.’
The experienced Sovre, on FIFA’s list of officials for the 17th straight year, was also keen to get the signature of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, but only managed to collar Haaland.
SOS Autism Bihor Association president Simona Zlibut said: ‘That autograph is for a noble cause. Maybe people don’t know, but Tavi (Sovre) is directly involved in supporting this Association. He has helped us a lot all these years!
Rewritten from Daily Mail.
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