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Asian Games

Bad for kabaddi to have such referees for Asian Games final: Nabibakhsh

The men's kabaddi gold medal match saw India win the gold medal against Iran, but an officiating controversy overshadowed the result.

Bad for kabaddi to have such referees for Asian Games final: Nabibakhsh

The Asian Games men's kabaddi medal ceremony


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 7 Oct 2023 5:28 PM GMT

Iran's talismanic kabaddi player Mohammad Esmaeil Nabibakhsh, while blaming the officials for spoiling the climax of the Asian Games final on Saturday evening, said he has nothing but congratulations for India for reclaiming their Asiad gold medal.

The men's gold medal match at Xiaoshan Guali Cultural and Sports Centre on Saturday saw India win the gold medal after having lost it to Iran in 2018, but an officiating controversy overshadowed the result.

"In the last one minute the referee had a lot of mistakes and that's why this has happened. But I know this is a game. Sometimes you're happy and sometimes you are crying. Today, we were unlucky in the last minute. Maybe it was a mistake of the referee, maybe it was the mistake of our team, but I can only say congratulations to India," Nabibakhsh said after the match.

"It is very bad. It is very bad for the final of the Asian Games. In about the 14 years I have been playing for the national team, this was the first time I saw something happen (like this). We should have better referees for the finals. All the time they (were) changing their decision and it's happened; it was very bad for kabaddi," he said.

The gold medal match was temporarily suspended after a controversial raid involving the Indian skipper Pawan Sehrawat was not awarded to India. With less than 90 seconds remaining on the clock, Pawan Sehrawat went into a do-or-die raid with the scores tied at 28-28. While raiding, Pawan went out of the bounds into the lobby without touching any defender of Iran.

As Pawan went into the lobby, four Iranian defenders came to dash. Iran was awarded a point as Pawan went out, but the Indian team started protesting the decision. After a review, the TV umpires and the on-court umpire ruled it in favour of India giving four points to India and one to Iran. The Iranian team started protesting after this move.

The game was suspended indefinitely following this. When it resumed, India was awarded three points while Iran got one. India would eventually win the final 33-29 and clinch the gold medal.

Indian kabaddi star Pawan Kumar said, "We were prepared for any given situation out there. Our coaches had trained us - even in the case of a third raid, we were ready to face any of the challenges. We were also prepared for things like fake touches which the Iranian players had done today, which we had been made aware of (these) in our coaching camps earlier. The good thing here was that we had the benefit of video reviews, which we used very well."

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