Linesman reveals real reason for getting Erling Haaland autograph after Manchester City clash

Romanian assistant referee Octavian Sovre sparked plenty of controversy for his apparent decision to chase Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland for an autograph after Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City, but fear not… there’s actually a wholesome explanation for the whole thing.

Footage of Sovre waiting in the tunnel to catch up with Haaland and get his autograph raised plenty of eyebrows on Tuesday and had both fans and pundits questioning whether officials should be allowed to pick up autographs from players after the game.

Sovre’s impartiality was thrown into question, but Romanian outlet Gazeta Sportulor reached out to the official to get to the bottom of his antics and found out that the yellow and red cards which Haaland signed are to be donated to an auction supporting a local autism centre.

SOS Autism Bihor in Oredea, Romania, relies exclusively on donations and fundraising efforts, and it was revealed that Sovre has been supporting the centre ever since 2015. The official has done this kind of thing before and has donated plenty of football memorabilia to the cause.

Sovre wanted to get the autograph of City boss Pep Guardiola as well, but did not want to cross any lines by chasing the Spaniard and instead had to ‘settle’ for Haaland’s signature on its own.

“That autograph is for a noble cause,” said SOS Autism Bihor president Simona Zlibut. “Maybe people don’t know, but Tavi is directly involved in supporting this association, which is the only way this centre can operate. There are only five in the whole country.

“I don’t have the words to talk about Tavi Sovre because he has helped us a lot all these years!”

Haaland will be hoping that the universe will reward his good deed with a better result in Dortmund’s return leg against City on April 14.

The Germans fell to a crushing 2-1 defeat on Tuesday courtesy of a 90th-minute winner from City starlet Phil Foden, but Marco Reus’ away goal means it will be all to play for in the second leg.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!