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Ref Gomes on his Mo Salah moment: ‘It was the only way out

Ref Victor Gomes and Mohammed Salah during the afcon final

Referee Victor Gomes said he needed to treat Egyptian star, Mohammed Salah, with the necessary respect in the African Cup of Nations final.

Gomes was seen handing over his cards and whistle to Salah in the final that Senegal won on Sunday.

Gomes said he prides himself on his consistency and he hopes it will stay with him.

Referee Victor Gomes said the handling of his now-famous Mohammed Salah moment in Sunday’s 2021 African Cup of Nations final between Egypt and Senegal was based on putting the game first.

The 39-year-old, who officiated the game Senegal won on penalties to collect their very first Afcon title, had his moment in the sun where in the 38th-minute, he handed over his cards and whistle to the Liverpool legend in a manner that suggested he should take over the game.

Fellow South African Zakhele Siwela was one of his assistant referees in the final.

Gomes, who’s known for his straight-talking manner, no-nonsense approach, and his by-the-book officiating, said he had a responsibility to handle what could have been a flash-point moment in a level-headed manner.

“I respect the players that I officiate with and I don’t like to talk about the decisions I make on the field,” Gomes said.

“However, I do like to highlight some points for educational purposes and I also believe we have a responsibility to report positively on football matters so that our work is understood.

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“Football has evolved tremendously and so have the players, who are highly respected and paid. Refereeing also has to evolve in that manner.

“We can’t stick to the old adage of officiating in a set way and style. All I can say is that on Sunday, I chose to manage a top-class player in a way I thought it would be deemed appropriate and responsible.

“Football was the ultimate winner on the day.”

Gomes, who has been officiating for 23 years, said he was appreciative of how the media has treated him despite public perception of being a hot-headed official.

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