A charity is set to benefit from assistant referee Octavian Sovre’s decision to ask Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland for an autograph following Manchester City’s Champions League quarter-final first leg win on Tuesday.
The Romanian official approached Haaland in the tunnel at Etihad Stadium and produced a red and yellow card for the striker to sign.
Some observers questioned Sovre’s actions, among them BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves, who said “it doesn’t look right”.
A childhood friend of Sovre has now revealed the cards are likely be auctioned later this month to help provide therapy for autistic people at the SOS Autism Bihor centre in Romania, which depends on donations and often auctions items to raise money.
“The red and yellow signed cards, which my kindergarten classmate Octavian donated to our SOS Autism Bihor centre, will be used for a noble cause,” said Simona Zlibut, who oversees a therapy centre set up by parents and whose own daughter Laura, 21, is autistic.
Haaland, 20, is among Europe’s most sought-after talents and has been linked with a big-money move this summer.
Asked for his opinion on the assistant referee asking Haaland for an autograph, City boss Pep Guardiola – who is among those who wants to sign the forward – did not seem concerned.
“Maybe he’s a fan of Haaland,” said Guardiola. “Maybe it was for his son or daughter. I’ve never seen it before, but the referee and the linesman were correct [during the match], they did a good job. That’s all.”
Phil Foden’s late winner earned City a 2-1 victory, after Haaland had set up Marco Reus to cancel out Kevin de Bruyne’s opener.
The second leg takes place on Wednesday, 14 April at 20:00 BST.