Following Premier League referee Andre Marriner’s inexplicable confusion between Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs during the Chelsea vs Arsenal, we felt it was worth a look at some other memorable refereeing cock-ups.

Most people are appreciative of the pressure referees are put under during the heat of the game, but some of these are just inexcusable.

Graham Poll’s triple yellow

Where better to begin than Graham Poll’s moment of stardom in the 2006 World Cup. England’s number one referee (or so according to FIFA) took charge of the Group F tie between Croatia and Australia. An hour in and Poll chose to book Croatian Josep Simunic, following that up in the 90th minute with a second yellow card.

However, Poll failed to implement the rules by forgetting to send the Croatian off for his second bookable offence. Poll did go on to dismiss Simunic, but not until he issued him with a third sanction. Sepp Blatter later confirmed that had Croatia gone on to claim victory, Australia would have had grounds for appeal. Luckily for Poll, the game finished 2-2. The Englishman was sent home from the tournament in shame, and became a laughing stock worldwide.


“I don’t find you funny, Gazza”

Anyone who says that referees have no sense of humour need only cite this to make their point. Referee Dougie Smith was officiating Rangers’ final home game of the 1994-95 season, and he didn’t take kindly to Paul Gascoigne’s antics. 7-0 up and the England star handed the referee back his cards after dropping them by brandishing the yellow card in the fashion of the official.

As opposed to laughing it off as any self-deprecating person would do, Smith stopped Gazza in his tracks and showed him a yellow card in return. Congrats to Smith for taking the pressure of the Hibs players though.


Watford vs Reading – ‘Ghost goal’

This Championship tie in 2008 saw one of the most bizarre incidents in the history of English football. 13 minutes into the match and Reading were awarded a goal, courtesy of Watford defender John Eustace. A brief goal-mouth scramble following a Reading corner was eventually cleared out of the box only for referee Stuart Attwell to blow for a goal.

After a consultation with linesman Neil Bannister, the goal was given, seemingly after the first touch from the Watford defender. Despite a lack of acknowledgement from any player on the field, the referee allowed the goal to stand.


Australia vs Equitorial Guinea – Women’s World Cup

This particular incident is the kind of thing you may see down the park with seven-year-olds when the manager screams ‘pick the ball up’ at his kids. Australia, already 1-0 up, hit the post after a cross.

Instead of taking possession of the ball, or simply clearing it, Equitorial Guinea defender Bruna catches the ball and turns towards the referee before dropping it and running off. You can only assume the ref was as confused as everyone observing the game was and somehow allowed play to resume.


Crystal Palace vs Bristol City – Freddy Sears disallowed goal

The introduction of goal-line technology means that this type of controversy will likely never occur again in at top-level football. Frank Lampard vs England was bad. Pedro Mendes vs Manchester United was worse.

But Freddy Sears vs Bristol City is quite literally unbelievable. Neil Warnock has never been one to shy away from public criticism of anyone, but he was fully justified in his outrage after his on-loan striker had the ball practically hit the back of the net. In bundling the ball over the line Sears managed to hit the stanchion resulting in the ball rebounding straight back out of the goal.

Crystal Palace players wheeled away in jubilation while Bristol’s defenders trudged away in disappointment, only to find out that the referee, on advice from his linesman, disallowed the goal.


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