Scots referee ‘headbutted’ in Saudi Arabia derby

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SCOTS referee John Beaton was headbutted by a player during a tempestuous match between Al Hilal and Al Nassr, leading to calls for action from Saudi Arabian football chiefs.

Beaton was attacked by Al Hilal midfielder Salem Al Dawsari, after showing him the red card in the seventh minute of added time at the end of the Riyadh derby - the third sending off of the match.

John Beaton pictured taking charge of Hearts' 4-0 win over Dumbarton in March. Picture: SNS

John Beaton pictured taking charge of Hearts' 4-0 win over Dumbarton in March. Picture: SNS

Al Dawsari was ordered off in the 97th minute after appearing to headbutt Beaton after the Scot had penalised the 23-year-old midfielder for a foul.

Players from both sides had to step in to try and restrain Al Dawsari as he attempted to lunge at Beaton following the final whistle.

The Scottish FA had sent Category One official Beaton along with assistants Douglas Ross and Stuart Stevenson following a request from the Saudi Arabian FA last week.

Beaton, who has been refereeing since 1997, took charge of the derby match at the 62,685-seater King Fahd International Stadium, where Al Nassr defeated Al Hilal 1-0 to secure the Saudi Premier League title thanks to Mohammad Al-Sahlawi’s first half strike.

“If you’ve seen the pictures, you’ve seen exactly what happened. It was an experience”

John Beaton

In what was an incident-strewn match, Beaton sent off three Al Hilal players and booked a further eight players from both sides.

Mohammed Jahfali saw red for a second bookable offence on 66 minutes, while Saud Khariri was shown a straight red in the fifth minute of injury time.

And Scottish Senior Football Referees Association chief Jamie Bee has called on the Saudi FA to make an example of Al Dawsari.

Bee said in a statement: “This type of behaviour is unacceptable in any country and no referee should be treated in this way.

Salem Al Dawsari is shown the red card by John Beaton before attempting to confront the official. Pictures: Complimentary

Salem Al Dawsari is shown the red card by John Beaton before attempting to confront the official. Pictures: Complimentary

“Assaults or attempted assaults on match officials should be met with zero tolerance. John Beaton dealt with the incident correctly on the field of play and the appropriate authorities should deal with the matter correctly off it.

“The most important thing for us though is that, thankfully, John does not appear to have been physically harmed in the incident.”

STV reported that Beaton, who recently took charge of Falkirk’s 1-0 win over Hibernian in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, needed extra security after the match as he left the Saudi capital to return to Scotland.

Beaton told STV that it had been ‘an experience’, adding: “I can’t really comment on it just now. Obviously the Saudi federation will be dealing with it, so I’ll just let them deal with what they need to deal with.

“If you’ve seen the pictures, you’ve seen exactly what happened. It was an experience.

“I’m back, I’m back safe and I can have no complaints about how the Saudis treated us after the game and made sure we were safe.”