10 Worst Refereeing Decisions in the History of English and World Cup Football
With the dawn of HD televisions and ultra slow-motion replay, refereeing has come under an incredible amount of scrutiny.
After all, being able to watch a run of play zoomed in, frame by frame, over and over again gives the viewer a massive advantage over the referee, who only gets to see it once in real time from where he is on the pitch.
Some have taken this opportunity to second guess referees at every turn and cry for the dawn of video replay in football.
Instead, in the next few slides, we will celebrate the worst of the worst: The 10 worst refereeing decisions in English and World Cup football.
You won't need instant replay to help you see most of these.
10. Maurice Edu Goal Disallowed: USA-Slovenia World Cup 2010
In the 2010 World Cup group stage, USA fell 2-0 behind early against Slovenia only to come roaring back to draw even.
In the 86th minute, Landon Donovan sent a free kick into the box that Maurice Edu slotted into the back of the net, seemingly giving the Americans the victory.
However, referee Koman Coulibaly whistled for a Slovenian free kick almost immediately after Donovan's kick left his foot.
Video replays showed that there was clearly no players offside (nor did the assistant raise his flag) and that no American committed a foul in the run up.
Standing alone, this is not the biggest travesty in history, but the reason this makes the list is Coulibaly's refusal to state what the foul was for or who it was on (per FIFA's insane policy).
If he were to point out for what and on who he called the penalty, the public could have watched the replay and criticized him for a poor call and have been done with it; instead, FIFA allowed Coulibaly to hide behind them and pretend to have made the correct call.
9. Zico Goal Disallowed: Brazil-Sweden World Cup 1978
In a 1978 World Cup group stage match, Brazil and Sweden were tied 1-1 entering stoppage time.
With moments to go in the match, Brazil sent in a corner that Zico headed in to seemingly give his side the point.
However, Welsh referee John Thomas blew the whistle to signify the end of the match, effectively wiping out the goal and handing the Swedes a draw.
The referee is supposed to let an attack fizzle at the end of either half. With Brazil clearly on the front foot when taking the corner, Thomas should have waited for the Swedes to clear the ball before blowing his whistle.
To make the call even worse, the video reveals that the referee did not begin blowing his whistle until the ball was safely over the line.
8. Nani Goal Given: Manchester United-Tottenham EPL 2010
In a Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham at Old Trafford in 2010, one of the strangest goals ever awarded occurred.
Nani rushed into Spurs' penalty area and went down to attempt to draw a penalty off Younes Kaboul.
Instead, referee Mark Clattenburg called for no penalty and waved play on.
However, when Nani went to the ground, he grabbed the ball with his arms and held it (albeit because he thought he had won a penalty).
When Spurs' keeper Gomes set up to take the ensuing free kick, Nani got up, walked up to the ball and slotted it in the back of the net against no pressure.
Clattenburg awarded the goal.
Seemingly, he had not called for a penalty (which would have stopped play), ruled Nani's fall a dive (which would have led to a free kick) or seen Nani blatantly grab the ball on the ground (which should have led to a free kick). Instead, he allowed play to continue.
After much deliberation with the assistant, the goal was given and the hand-ball left unseen and unpunished.
7. Don Hutchinson Goal Disallowed: Everton-Liverpool EPL 2000
In a 2000 Premier League Merseyside Derby clash, the match was ticking to a close with the scores level at 0-0.
In the last moments of action, Liverpool keeper Sander Westerveld went to take a long free kick that would probably end the match.
Instead, his kick hit the back of retreating Everton player Don Hutchinson.
The ball bounced off of Hutchinson and over Westerveld's head, into the back of the net.
Referee Graham Poll, however, disallowed the goal on the grounds that he had already blown his whistle to end the match.
Video evidence proved otherwise.
After retirement, Poll has admitted that his call was a mistake.
6. Frank Lampard Disallowed Goal: England-Germany World Cup 2010
In World Cup 2010's round of 16, England did battle with rival Germany. After falling behind 2-0, England picked up a goal through Matthew Upson.
Moments later, Frank Lampard seemingly equalized with a shot off the crossbar. However, referee Jorge Larrionda did not give the goal and waved play on.
Replay shows that the ball hit the bar, landed a few feet inside the goal line and spun out.
Germany went on to use their counter-attacking prowess to win 4-1, but England still cries foul over this grave injustice.
5. Bruna Handball Unpunished: Australia-Equatorial Guinea 2011 Womens World Cup
In a Women's World Cup group stage match from this past summer, Equatorial Guinea faced heavy favorites Australia.
With Australia already leading 1-0 in the 16th minute, the Matildas came on the attack, sending a ball in from a wide position and hitting the post with the shot.
Off the rebound, Equatorial Guinea player Bruna caught the ball and held it for no less than two seconds before dropping it.
Perhaps she thought the ball in, or perhaps it was a mind cramp, but a penalty must have ensued.
Instead, Gyoengyi Gaal missed the handball entirely and let the play run on.
4. 'Ghost Goal': Watford-Reading Championship 2008
In a 2008 Championship clash between Watford and Reading, Reading opened the scoring on 13 minutes due to a John Eustace own goal.
However, video evidence shows clearly that the ball never crossed or even came close to crossing the line.
Referee Stuart Attwell followed the advice of his linesman, Nigel Bannister, and awarded a goal to Reading despite the clear fact that none had been scored.
3. 'Hand of God': England-Argentina 1986 World Cup
In the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal between England and Argentina, Diego Maradona scored two of the most famous goals in the history of football.
His second was coined the "Goal of the Century" for the great individual effort by Maradona.
The first, however, is coined the "Hand of God" for the body part that Maradona used to put the ball in the net.
With the game scoreless on 51 minutes, Maradona passed to Jorge Valdano, but England defender Steve Hoge got a boot on it and sent it into the air.
With the ball hanging in the penalty area, England keeper Peter Shilton, 6'1", and Maradona, 5'5", challenged for the ball.
Improbably, Maradona put the ball in the back of the net and opened the scoring.
However, English players claimed for handball, a claim that instant replay confirms; Maradona had used his left fist to punch the ball in the back of the net.
Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser missed the infringement, though, and let the goal stand.
As Argentina's winning margin was one goal, England have felt hard done by the outcome ever since.
2. Josep Simunic Gets 3 Yellow Cards: Croatia-Australia 2006 World Cup
For those of you who didn't know, in football, your second yellow card means a red card and a sending off.
Graham Poll must have lost track of that somewhere in the 2006 World Cup.
Poll (star of No. 7 of this list as well) produced a yellow card to Josep Simunic on 63 minutes in Croatia's final group stage match with Australia.
On 90 minutes, with the score at 2-2, the referee cautioned the same player again but failed to produce a red card, hence allowing Simunic to play the final few minutes when he should not have.
Luckily for Poll, no late drama occurred and the match ended at 2-2.
After the whistle had been blown to end the match, though, Poll made himself look even more foolish by producing a third yellow card and then a red to a protesting Simunic.
Poll was sent home and never refereed another World Cup match.
Simunic will surely hold the record for most yellow cards in a single World Cup match until the end of time.
1. 'Le Hand of God': France-Ireland 2010 World Cup Qualification Playoff
In a 2010 World Cup qualifying playoff, France and Ireland set the stage for one of the worst refereeing decisions in football history.
After the first leg ended 1-0 to France in Dublin, all hope seemed lost for the Irishmen.
However, after Robbie Keane made it 1-0 to Ireland in France after 90 minutes, the match was drawn on aggregate and sent to extra time.
13 minutes into extra time, a free kick by Florent Malouda barely missed a wave of players and ended up falling to Thierry Henry on the end line.
Henry crossed it to William Gallas, who headed the ball into the net.
The goal proved to be decisive, sending France to the World Cup finals and Ireland to their homes for the competition.
Immediately after the goal, though, Irish players were running toward the referee (Martin Hansson) and his assistant (Stefan Wittberg), claiming handball.
Replay shows that after Malouda's free kick narrowly missed Squillaci (who had been in an offside position), the ball struck Henry on the arm.
To make matters worse, Henry then controlled the ball with his hand, pushing it back from going out of play and enabling his cross and the subsequent goal.
You can see Shay Given, who got the best look at the play, immediately point to his hand after Henry grabs it, doing so even before Gallas puts the ball in the net.
Incredibly, neither the referee nor his assistant saw the blatant handball and let the goal stand.
Irish appeals did not help the matter, and the goal was counted as if it were any other.
However, if you are looking for karmic retribution, look no further than France's performance in the subsequent World Cup finals.