Online petition calls for Kiwi to be sacked

Last updated 07:33 24/06/2014
Peter O'Leary

NO JOKE: Kiwi referee Peter O'Leary, right, can be seen laughing with a Nigerian player in the background after officiating a World Cup game between the African nation and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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A New Zealand referee officiating at the World Cup is in the gun after it was alleged he favoured a team and images appeared of him "celebrating" with Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

An online petition started by fans of Bosnia-Herzegovina has already drawn 20,000 signatures to remove referee Peter O'Leary.

O'Leary drew widespread criticism after wrongly disallowing an Edin Dzeko strike after 21 minutes in Bosnia-Herzegovina 's 1-0 loss to Nigeria.

Replays confirmed Dzeko was onside, but linesman Mark Rule - a Palmerston North podiatrist - raised his flag and O'Leary backed the judgement of his fellow Kiwi official.

Bosnia-Herzegovina were eliminated from the tournament after the game as they needed at least a draw to stay alive.

Fans of the team who have signed the petition to Fifa say they want the result changed to 1-1 and O'Leary removed from the tournament.

In the aftermath of the game, Manchester City striker Dzeko, who also hit the post late on, said O'Leary's performance was "shameful".

When asked about the game he said: "The referee happened. We are going home, we are sad because of that, but the referee should go home too, because he changed the result, he changed the game, and that's why we lost.

"We tried to come back after the goal where there was obviously a foul on our captain and before when I scored a goal it was not offside. Nigeria played good as well, but the referee was shameful for this competition."

O'Leary was just the second New Zealander to referee a World Cup game, following Michael Hester in 2010.

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