KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Gianni Infantino has sought quash controversy surrounding the Brazilian woman referees at the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar last week.

The president of the world football federation became embroiled in confusion at the closing ceremony immediately after Bayern Munich’s victory over Tigres of Mexico in the final.

Social media erupted in anger after it appeared after Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, prompted by a remark from Infantino, did not fist-bump with Edina Alves Batista and Neuza Back, who had been the refereeing assistants.

Infantino has sought to set the record straight.

In a statement he said: “In the light of the lies being spread online about what I said to the women referees at the FIFA Club World Cup medal ceremony, I have to make some clarifications.

“I congratulated them for their wonderful work and their level of performance throughout the competition. This was a major milestone for FIFA as, for the first time, female referees were nominated for and officiated at a FIFA senior men’s competition.

“As everyone knows, I am a strong advocate for women’s rights and equal treatment of all human beings – regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or physical characteristics.

“The FIFA Statutes clearly state that FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognized human rights and to doing everything in its power to promote the protection of these rights. Those who spread these false rumors should be ashamed of their actions.”

An earlier statement from the Qatari organisers had sought to explain that “a misunderstanding” had occurred because of Covid-19 health precautions.

It said: “In order to limit the risk of the Covid-19 virus spreading, strict protocols were in place and everyone participating in the tournament was strongly advised to avoid all physical contact.

“This was a simple misunderstanding and there was no intention to offend. The decision to engage in any form of physical contact remains a personal preference for all players, coaches and referees, and is respected by all who participate in the organizing committee for this tournament.”