Dutch referee Danny Makkelie has apologized to the Portuguese national team for denying Cristiano Ronaldo's potential match-winner in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
Tied 2–2 with Serbia after blowing a two-goal lead, Portugal appeared to score a late stoppage-time winner after Ronaldo's sublime touch on a long pass into the box rolled under the Serbia goalkeeper.
But Makkelie, an international referee since 2008, ruled that Serbia defender Stefan Mitrovic had cleared the ball off the line whereas replays showed that it was a clear goal. But without VAR or goal-line technology in FIFA World Cup qualifiers, there was nothing to override the call on the field as the two nations each took home a point.
"According to FIFA's policies, all I can say is that I apologized to the national coach, Mr. Fernando Santos, and to the Portuguese team for what happened," Makkelie told Portuguese outlet A Bola. "As a referee team, we always work hard to make good decisions. When we’re in the news like this, it doesn’t make us happy at all."
In disbelief over the call, or lack thereof, Ronaldo stormed off the field, throwing his captain's armband in a tantrum that has led to global criticism of the Juventus star.
"Being captain of the Portuguese team is one of the greatest privileges and pride of my life," Ronaldo wrote on Instagram. "I always give and always will give everything for my country, that will never change. But there are difficult times to face, especially when we feel that an entire nation is being hurt."
Ronaldo, who is closing in on Ali Daei’s men's international scoring record of 109 goals, will next take to the field on Tuesday in the World Cup qualifying match against Luxembourg, who stunned Ireland in a 1–0 away victory over the weekend.