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via Reuters

Al Hilal remains a subject of criticism for playing with a loaded dice. Currently leading the Roshn Saudi League, their dominance has often been clouded by suspicions of referee bias. Now, adding fuel to the fire, the domestic tournament’s federation has made a contentious decision to postpone Al Hilal’s upcoming match—a move that has ignited outrage among Cristiano Ronaldo-led Al Nassr and two Saudi clubs, Al-Ittihad and Al Ahly as they are voicing their dissent.

It all began last night when Al Hilal contested their AFC Champions League semi-final clash against the UAE side, Al Ain. Despite losing the away opening leg 4-2, further bad news ensued as they were scheduled to face Al Ahli-Saudi in a league fixture the following day, with just 3 days before the return leg against Al Ain. This congestion, which many teams are grappling with, would have left the Blue Waves with insufficient time to prepare for the league clash. However, the federation opted to postpone the game for them. 

This didn’t sit well with Al Nassr, Al Ittihad, and Al Ahli-Saudi, prompting them to issue official statements condemning the biased decision to delay the match for Al Hilal. Notably, in one of the statements, Al Nassr highlighted their opening game of the season against Al Ettifaq, which they lost two days after securing victory in the Arab Club final against Al Hilal. They asserted that not only were they compelled to rest their star players, but the match also extended beyond 120 minutes, “which contributed to losing 3 important points at the start of the league race.”

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However, Al Hilal has not been subjected to the same treatment by the federation, prompting the aforementioned clubs to come together once again—a spectacle that is not unfamiliar in this context.

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Rival clubs unite with Cristiano Ronaldo and Al Nassr against Al Hilal over referee bias

An earlier report revealed that Al Hilal’s match against Al Ain in the AFC Champions League, officiated by referee Adham Makhadmeh, faced opposition from the UAE club. According to the report, Al Ain sent a letter to the AFC alleging that the referee had officiated multiple Al Hilal games and favored them. Despite their appeal, the AFC rejected it, and the match was eventually officiated by Makhadmeh. Even Saudi Pro League clubs are going through the same treatment!

via Reuters

Notably, Cristiano Ronaldo once made a sarcastic comment on Instagram regarding a questionable penalty awarded to Al Hilal against Al Riyadh earlier this year. CR7 posted 9 laughing emojis on a video showing Aleksandar Mitrović missing his strike but falling to the ground with minimal contact. Despite trailing Al Riyadh, Al Hilal eventually won the game after the penalty. In another instance, Al Shabab and its star player Ivan Rakitic also expressed similar sentiments.

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However, these patterns make it obvious and concerning how Al Hilal is being favored. Let’s see if the rival clubs, alongside Ronaldo’s Al Nassr, are successfully able to fight for their cause.

Written by

Abhishek Mishra

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Abhishek Mishra is a senior Soccer Writer at EssentiallySports. His early exposure to playing soccer earned him many accolades at college divisions, making him a sports enthusiast. While closely following daily updates for over a decade, Abhishek is well-versed in European soccer and now the MLS, as well.
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Edited by

Jayant Chhabra