Fans ask same question after Premier League referee Michael Oliver spotted officiating in Saudi Arabia


Why Premier League referee Michael Oliver officiated Saudi Pro League

Premier League referee Michael Oliver travelled over to the Middle East this week to officiate a game in the Saudi Pro League featuring Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 38-year-old official, who was promoted to the UEFA Elite Group of Referees in 2018, took charge of the SPL clash between Al Nassr and Al Hilal at 'The Blue Jewel' stadium in Omdurman.

Al Nassr current sit in second, three points behind league leaders Al Ittihad, so Tuesday night's game against fourth-place Al Hilal was a crucial fixture in the hotly-contested title race.

That being said, despite the best efforts of Cristiano Ronaldo, who was booked for putting his opponent in a headlock, Al Nassr fell to a 2-0 defeat following a brace from former Manchester United forward Odion Ighalo.

After the full-time whistle, Ronaldo appeared to make an obscene gesture towards a section of Al Hilal supporters after they chanted "Messi, Messi, Messi" as he walked off the pitch.

It was a game full of big moments but one of biggest talking points on social media, both during and after the game, was the surprise appearance of Michael Oliver.

Oliver, who has been picked to referee arguably the biggest game of the season next week between Arsenal and Manchester City, was kept busy throughout the evening.

Here's how fans reacted to his cameo.

One said: "Hold on, is that Michael Oliver at the end of this video?? Wtf is he doing refereeing games in Saudi," while another commented: "What the hell is Michael Oliver doing in Saudi Arabia????"

A third wrote: "Michael Oliver being in the Saudi League is even stranger than Ronaldo being in the Saudi League."

A fourth added: "Since when did Michael Oliver start refereeing matches in Saudi? During the Premier League season? Weird."

 Saudi Arabia often bring over more high-profile referees from outside of the country to officiate their biggest matches.

For example, back in March, Spanish referee Mateu Lahoz was drafted in to referee the top-of-the-league clash between Al Nassr and Al Ittihad.

Lahoz, who previously has officiated two games in the Saudi Pro League in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, handed out eight yellow cards and three red cards during those fixtures.

Known for delivering 18 yellows and a red during last winter's World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and the Netherlands, he only handed out two cards during the crucial tie.

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