Petition launched against Kiwi World Cup ref

New Zealand World Cup referee Peter O'Leary has been the subject of intense scrutiny for his officiating of Bosnia-Herzegovina's World Cup-ending loss to Nigeria.

Taking control of his first World Cup match, the 42-year-old from Whangarei made a controversial offside call that disallowed a goal by striker Edin Dzeko, who later called for O'Leary to be sent home from the tournament after Bosnia-Herzegovina lost 1-0. 

"The referee was shameful in this competition," Dzeko said in an interview with the Goal website. 

"We are going home, we are sad because of that but this referee should be going home too. He changed the result and he changed the game. That's why we lost."

Bosnian media has echoed those sentiments. 

"Theft in Cuiaba - Bosnia says goodbye after shameful refereeing," the Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz read.

"We lost to Nigeria, the culprit was a New Zealand referee who overturned Dzeko's clean goal." 

Another headline read: "The Dragon: The judge who threw Bosnia-Herzegovina out of the World Cup!"

An online petition calling for O'Leary to be sacked by FIFA has been signed over 23,000 times by online users who posted the following Tweet. 

SIGN THIS FIFA: Fire Peter O' Leary from his Refferee job and change result on Bosnia-Herzegovina v Nigeria to 1 v 1

— dina❃ (@dinanuhan) June 22, 2014

Kiwi assistants Jan Hendrik Hintz and Mark Rule, who raised his flag for the offside, have also been critisised for their officiating of the match. 

The teams were scoreless early in the match when Dzeko appeared to put Bosnia-Herzegovina into the lead with a right-footed shot past Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

Replays showed Dzeko to be onside by at least a step when Zvjezdan Misimovic released a through ball that slipped between two Nigeria defenders. 

"I was told there was no offside," Bosnia-Herzegovina coach Safet Susic said after the match. 

"But this is not the first or last refereeing mistake, not just at the World Cup or elsewhere."

Bosnia-Herzegovina players were seething after Nigeria went ahead through Peter Odemwingie, who was perceived to have fouled a defender en-route to scoring. 

FIFA has released the referee designations for the next seven matches at the tournament but O'Leary, or his assistants, have not been assigned to any of them.

A New Zealand referee and his linesmen are being blamed for sending Bosnia-Herzegovina home.