A petition calling for New Zealand referee Peter O’Leary to be removed from the World Cup has attracted more than 23,000 signatures after an image appearing to show him "celebrating” with Nigeria’s goalkeeper spread across the internet.
Nigeria won its Group F game against Bosnia and Herzegovina in controversial circumstances at the weekend.
Bosnia had a perfectly good goal by Edin Dzeko incorrectly ruled out for offside minutes before Nigeria’s Peter Odemwingie scored the only goal of the game to seal victory for the Super Eagles and send Bosnia out of the World Cup.
After the game, Dzeko branded O’Leary “shameful” and called for the referee to “go home too, because he changed the result, he changed the game and that’s why we lost”.
Thousands of Bosnia fans have now signed a petition calling for O’Leary to be removed from the World Cup in Brazil after the image of him talking with Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama was interpreted by some as a “celebration”.
FIFA is backing the New Zealander, with a spokesperson telling the Independent: "We are aware of the photo. The interpretations of this photo that we’ve seen are baseless."
"We have 100% confidence in the referee team and fully trust their commitment to protect the integrity of the game."