Bookmaker to refund NI v Switzerland World Cup bets after ref admits penalty decision error

Gareth McAuley questions referee Ovidiu Hategan's decision in the first leg play-off
Gareth McAuley questions referee Ovidiu Hategan's decision in the first leg play-off

A prominent bookmaker is refunding punters who backed Northern Ireland to reach the World Cup in Russia after the referee admitted his game-deciding penalty decision was wrong.

Ovidiu Hategan controversially pointed to the spot in the first leg of November's play-off, despite the ball clearly hitting midfielder Corry Evans on the back of his shoulder.

Disbelief: Corry Evans and Chris Brunt

Disbelief: Corry Evans and Chris Brunt

The Romanian has admitted his error – prompting Paddy Power to refund all single bets on Michael O’Neill’s men qualifying for the World Cup, amounting to thousands of pounds in stakes.

“The referee’s admission is refreshing but, ultimately, doesn’t make much difference to disappointed fans," a Paddy Power spokesperson said.

“We decided to give the punters some justice, too, by refunding those who backed Northern Ireland to qualify for Russia.”

Corry Evans points to his shoulder after referee Ovidiu Hategan's decision

Corry Evans points to his shoulder after referee Ovidiu Hategan's decision