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Iraq striker sent off after goal celebration in Asian Cup defeat to Jordan

Jordan advanced to the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup with victory over Iraq on Monday, who had striker Aymen Hussein sent off after a goal celebration.

Hussein, 27, had given Iraq a 2-1 lead in the 76th minute of the match but was shown a second yellow card following his celebration.

10-men Iraq held their lead until the fifth minute of added time, when Yazan Al-Arab equalised for Jordan — who then grabbed the winner two minutes later through Nizar Mahmoud Al-Rashdan’s long-range strike.

Jordan had taken the lead in first half stoppage time when Yazan Al-Naimat opened the scoring, with he and his teammates then choreographing a goal celebration of sitting down on the pitch and mimicking the eating of mansaf — considered to be the nation’s national dish.

Saad Natiq equalised midway through the second half for Iraq before Hussein completed the turnaround eight minutes later, with the striker concluding his celebration by sitting down on the pitch and mimicking the eating of food.

Hussein’s and Iraq’s celebrations soon turned sour when Iranian referee Alireza Faghani showed the striker a second yellow card immediately after his celebration.

Iraq coach Jesus Casas criticised the decision after the game, claiming that the striker was shown a second yellow card for replicating the same celebration as his opponents, who were not disciplined.

The Athletic have asked the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for clarification on the red card but have not received a response at the time of publication.

“In a big tournament like the Asian Cup you cannot exclude a player after celebrating a goal,” Casas said after the match.

“The same happened in the first half with the Jordanian players (celebrating) and the referee didn’t take any action.

“The problem was in the timing of this red card. It took place after we had used all our substitutions, so it was a very difficult situation.

“We didn’t have the chance to make any changes inside the pitch.”

Al-Naimat gave Jordan the first-half lead, with players celebrating together before mimicking an eating celebration (KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Under IFAB’s Laws of the Game, Law 12 deals with ‘fouls and misconduct’ under which potential punishments for the ‘celebration of a goal’ are detailed.

The law states that a “celebration must not be excessive; choreographed celebrations are not encouraged and must not cause excessive time-wasting.”

Leaving the field of play to celebrate is not a cautionable offence, but the law clarifies how a player must be cautioned, even if a goal is disallowed, for the following:

  • climbing onto a perimeter fence and/or approaching the spectators in a manner which causes safety and/or security issues
  • gesturing or acting in a provocative, derisory or inflammatory way
  • covering the head or face with a mask or other similar item
  • removing the shirt or covering the head with the shirt

The one category to which Hussein’s celebration can reasonably be classified is under ‘gesturing or acting in a provocative, derisory or inflammatory way’.

The result was a shock defeat for Iraq, whose coach Casas was heckled by Iraqi journalists in the post-match press conference over the result, but he stressed he was not considering leaving his position.

“Concerning my future, I’m calm and our goal is to qualify for the 2026 World Cup,” Casas said. “Anything might happen and I’m very calm.”

Jordan will now play Tajikistan, in their first ever major tournament, in the last eight of the competition on February 2.

“The confidence that we have made us believe we could come back and this is what we’ve done,” Jordan coach Hussein Ammouta said after the match.

“In added time we came back, we equalised and we exploited Iraq being down one man.

“We have a strong mentality and we have to maintain it so we can go further in this tournament.”

(Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)

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