Wales and Turkey face off in a decisive Euro 2024 qualifier on Tuesday night - and both might be fearing the man in the middle.

Turkey have already qualified for next summer’s tournament in Germany, but for The Dragons the fixture remains a must-win game in front of a sell-out Cardiff City Stadium crowd. They also need Croatia to drop points at home to Armenia if they are to clinch direct qualification to the Euros.

But their task will be made no easier by the selection of Matej Jug as the matchday official. The Slovenian referee is a hugely controversial figure, having attracted fierce criticism from both Ireland and Scotland for his baffling officiating in the past.

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Jug, 43, took charge of Ireland’s 2-1 defeat to Portugal in a World Cup qualifier back in September 2021. On that occasion, he awarded Portugal an early penalty but failed to grant Ireland a spot-kick for Joao Palhinha’s challenge on Aaron Connolly.

The referee also refused to look at a replay of a potential red card incident involving Cristiano Ronaldo where he struck Dara O’Shea, leading pundit Pat Dolan to point out his favouritism towards the Portugal captain. Dolan repeatedly branded Jug a “mug” for his display.

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Cristiano Ronaldo striking Dara O’Shea was not reviewed by the official
Cristiano Ronaldo striking Dara O’Shea was not reviewed by the official
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 9: referee Matej Jug gestures during the UEFA Europa League Group A match between West Ham United FC and Olympiacos FC at London Stadium on November 9, 2023 in London, England.
Matej Jug was branded "a mug"

He said: “I doubt he’ll get any birthday cards from Ireland, but I would be absolutely certain that pictures from his birthday party would see him dressed up as a clown. He wasn’t just bad on Wednesday night, he was clueless; out of his depth.

“This is a guy who has been a FIFA referee for 14 years. Thank goodness that in our countries we have heroes and sporting legends that we look up to.

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“But we are never blinded to when our heroes start believing they can do what the hell they like. How on earth did Ronaldo stay on the pitch after his strike at Dara O’Shea? I’ll tell you why - because Mr Jug - I said Jug, not Mug - just bottled it.

“It seemed like every time Irish defenders were doing their jobs, Mr Jug, the Mug, would go for another VAR review, as he seemed desperate to make sure Ronaldo would have another penalty after he missed the first one.”

29/11/18 EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP G RANGERS v VILLARREAL IBROX - GLASGOW Rangers' Daniel Candeias (R) is shown a red card by referee Matej Jug.
Matej Jug was slammed for his officiating of a Rangers game in 2018

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Jug was also accused of being “really caught up in the occasion” and having “no authority”. Dolan's sentiment was echoed by former Ireland international Stephen Hunt, who claimed: "I didn't think he helped our players in all decisions.

“Not one decision that was a 50/50 call did he actually give in Ireland's favour. The referee's performance last night wasn't good enough and I'd be very surprised if he manages games coming up in the next few days."

Hunt added: “My biggest disappointment there is he never reviewed the Ronaldo incident. Listen, I think Dara's gone down a little bit easy, but you could say he's raised his arm and by the letter of the law it's a sending off.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09: Referee Matej Jug issues a yellow card during the UEFA Europa League match between West Ham United and Olympiacos FC at London Stadium on November 09, 2023 in London, England.
Matej Jug is known for being card friendly

Jug had also been at the centre of controversy three years earlier during a Europa League clash between Rangers and Villarreal at the Ibrox. He was booed off the pitch after sending off Daniel Candeias for a foul.

Jug initially did not realise it was Candeias’ second yellow and therefore a sending off. To make matters worse, replays of the incident showed that the initial foul was in fact made by Alfredo Morelos - not Candeias.

Former Celtic star John Hartson, working as an analyst for BT Sport, said the referee had "lost the plot" and added: "I don't think Candeias deserves a second yellow card. I don't think he does an awful lot.

“The referee has come over, panicked, he has booked the wrong player initially. The whole thing is messy." Jug ruthlessly had his Wikipedia page edited by enraged Rangers fans in the aftermath.