Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo against Serbia during the World Cup 2022 qualifiers.
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo against Serbia during the World Cup 2022 qualifiers. Image Credit: AFP

Referee Danny Makkelie has apologised to Portugal saying he was “embarrassed” to have mistakenly disallowed Cristiano Ronaldo’s match-winning goal on Saturday against Serbia.

The match official failed to call a goal, despite the ball crossing the goal line before Serbian captain Stefan Mitrovic slid in to clear it. The match ended in a 2-2 draw and an outburst from Ronaldo, which saw him booked with a yellow card.

“The referee apologised to me in the booth and told me he was embarrassed. I was in the dressing room with him and apologised to me,” said manager Fernando Santos later said.

“He had told me on the pitch that he was going to see the images and that if it was the case he was calling me to apologise – and so it was.

“I told him on the pitch that there was no VAR or goal-line technology – one of the things he told me was that the goal line was important – but I told him that the ball was half a metre inside the goal,” he added.

Makkelie confirmed this to Portuguese newspaper A Bola on Monday.

“All I can say is that I said sorry to the coach and the team about what happened. As a refereeing team we always work hard to take the right decisions. When we are in the news for a reason like this, it doesn’t make us happy at all,” he said.

Uefa on Monday agreed that the use of goal-line technology could have avoided the situation altogether — but clarified the rules for its implementation.

“The decision to use goal-line technology for the European Qualifiers lies with the host association for each match,” they said.

“If the host association plans to implement goal-line technology, they must also obtain written consent from the visiting association in order for it to be used,” they addd.

Former Portugal international Fernando Meira reacted to Ronaldo’s outburst, during which he stormed off the pitch and hurled his captain’s arm band to the ground during the World Cup 2022 qualifier match.

“Cristiano’s reaction is natural, but it’s not acceptable from the national team captain,” said Meira.

“You can’t throw the armband on the ground and head into the dressing room while the game is still going on. It’s not acceptable behaviour for a player of his stature.

“I understand his frustration and I agree with him because his goal should have counted, but the referees need to make a decision without VAR and he has to set an example.

“The example he set last night wasn’t good enough,” added Meira.

After the 2-2 draw, the Juventus star took to Instagram to reflect on his own behaviour.

“Being captain of the Portugal National Team is one of the greatest prides and privileges of my life,” wrote Ronaldo.

“I give and will always give my all for my country, that will never change. But there are difficult moments to cope, especially when we feel like an entire nation is being harmed. Head up and face the next challenge! Come on Portugal!”