The Georgian Football Federation (GFF) has banned referee Avtandil Shalamberidze for one month after his poor performance on 22 March in the match between FC Lokomotiv Tbilisi and FC Dinamo Batumi.
Shalamberidze gave an injury-time penalty to Lokomotiv which Kakhaber Gogichaishvili converted to help his team come from two goals down to win 3-2 and strengthen their second-placed position in the Georgian Premier League. "A wrong decision by the referee has affected the result of the game, that is why his mistake deserves a suspension," said GFF official Anatoli Milchenko.
After the loss to Lokomotiv, Batumi coach Aslan Baladze told the media he believed there was a conspiracy in the league. Baladze suggested that the defending champions, FC Torpedo Kutaisi, in addition to FC Merani-91 Tbilisi and FC Kolkheti-1913 Poti had formed an "alliance" against the other three clubs in the top six.
‘Fair play will be protected’
The GFF has reacted to Baladze’s comments, with president Merab Zhordania announcing special measures to monitor matches in order to eradicate any form of corruption in Georgian football as the top flight enters the final stages of the season. "When Torpedo, Kolkheti and Merani-91 play each other there will be members of our special committee watching them, aside from the referee and match delegate. We will make sure fair play principles are protected," Zhordania said.
Champions under scrutiny
Torpedo and Kolkheti were charged with match-fixing and fined less than a month ago, and the recent Torpedo versus Merani-91 match is currently under investigation for the same thing. With ten rounds of matches to be played, Torpedo are leading fierce rivals Lokomotiv by only a point, with third-placed FC Dinamo Tbilisi seven points further adrift.