Romanian federation fires referee chief

Romania's soccer federation fired its reformist referee chief, Ion Craciunescu, on Friday.

Craciunescu has been criticized by clubs in recent weeks for what they believe to be inept performances by the country's referees.

His firing is seen as political, coming just a month before the soccer federation holds elections to choose a new chairman.

Craciunescu, who had vowed to crack down on corruption among referees, said he expected to be fired but was disappointed that federation chief Mircea Sandu swore at him afterward.

"I expected them to say, 'good bye, thanks for your work,' and so on, but instead all I heard were curses," he said.

Media reported that Sandu, who is running for re-election against former soccer star Gheorghe Popescu and had supported Craciunescu, was eager to get rid of him after the referee boss had become unpopular with clubs.

Club representatives will vote in the upcoming election.

Since he took office in 2003, Craciunescu promoted many young referees to the top division in a move he said was meant to stop corruption and breakup "old friends" networks which had dominated the profession, AP reported. V.A.

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