15 Ludicrous Refereeing Decisions and How They Ruined Each Match
Referees should be seen and not heard—at least that's what my father always used to say to me when I was a kid.
Given the huge quantities of money at stake these days, referees can get crucified when they get something wrong.
They don't have the benefit of slow motion high definition replays from multiple angles, they get a split-second to see the incident and make a decision. Of course they can call upon the assistant referees—or linesmen—for advice, but they have been known to get it wrong a time or two also.
Here are some of the most ludicrous ever witnessed in the world of football.
England vs Germany 2010 World Cup
Germany vs England in a World Cup encounter is always an exciting event.
In 2010 Germany had moved into a 2-1 lead before Frank Lampard's advert for goal line technology occurred.
Lampard hit a screaming shot that cannoned off the cross bar, bounced down behind the line, then span out onto the pitch again.
Referee Jorge Larrionda and linesmen both declared it had not crossed the line and play continued.
The goal would have brought England level, but their heads dropped at the terrible decision and Germany went on to punish them, running out 4-2 victors in the process.
France vs Ireland 2010 World Cup Qualifier
France and the Republic of Ireland needed a play-off match in order to decide which of them should travel to the 2010 World Cup finals.
With France leading 1-0 from the first leg, Irish eyes were smiling when Robbie Keane had tied the scores on aggregate in the second leg.
With the game looking like heading for extra time and penalties, Thierry Henry blatantly controlled a pass with his hand before crossing for William Gallas to score the decisive goal.
The referee missed it, the linesman missed it, the rest of Europe didn't miss it and Thierry Henry was branded a cheat.
Tottenham vs Manchester United 2005
Tottenham thought they had finally beaten Manchester United back in 2005 when Pedro Mendes' strike from the halfway line beat goalkeeper Roy Carroll and clearly crossed the line.
In a twist of fate, Carroll scrambled back on top of the ball, scooped it clear and the officials missed the most spectacular goal of the season.
The game officially ended 0-0 and Tottenham had been robbed.
Ankaragucu vs Besiktas 1986/87
It's a Turkish league game, it's 0-0, and it's the 90th minute.
What possible mistake could a referee make? Unfortunately for Besiktas, the referee decided to head home the winning goal and cost them a point.
Santacruzense vs Atletico Sorocaba 2006
If having a referee score a goal was bad enough, how about a ball boy?
In 2006 Santacruzense found themselves 1-0 down heading into the 90th minute. One missed opportunity later and the players jog back up the pitch.
A cheeky ball boy has different ideas though and passes the ball into the back of the net whilst no one is looking.
The referee and linesman turn around to see the Atletico Sorocaba goalkeeper fishing the ball out of his net and assume the initial chance had gone in.
The goal was allowed and Atletico Sorocaba were left aghast at the decision.
The referee was later suspended.
Nigel De Jong vs Xabi Alonso World Cup Final 2010
How this tackle by Nigel de Jong wasn't awarded with a red card I'll never know.
The commentary on the video is brilliant, the almost the only words understandable being "Oww", "kung-fu" and "Xabi Alonso."
Whilst justice was done and Spain went on to win the World Cup, it was in no way helped by the shocking decision to allow de Jong to continue playing in the game.
Bolton Wanderers vs Everton 1997
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Unfortunately it doesn't get much worse than this in football.
Bolton Wanderers and Everton were both fighting relegation when they met in 1997.
At 0-0, Bolton's Gerry Taggart headed home a goal that clearly had crossed the line. The referee failed to award it and the clubs shared a point each.
Here's the painful part.
The teams finished level on points at the end of the season, only for Bolton to be relegated and Everton to stay up on goal difference.
England vs Argentina 1986 World Cup
David Cannon/Getty Images
Not to say that England would have beaten Argentina if Diego Maradona's first goal had been correctly ruled as a handball, but it certainly would have helped matters.
Maradona's hand of god goal is now infamous after the little Argentinian punched the ball into the net to give his country the lead in the 1986 quarterfinal game.
Maradona went on the score a sublime solo goal after that before Gary Lineker struck a consolation goal.
Who knows what could have happened if things had been officiated correctly.
Partick Thistle vs Dundee United 1992/93
Well the result wasn't in jeopardy, but that's beside the point.
Referee Les Mottram denied Paddy Connolly a hat trick after he deemed his goal to have not been valid.
What makes it worse is that after Connolly scores, a Partick defender catches the ball and hands it to his own goalkeeper—an incident that Mottram also missed.
The video tells all there is to know.
This is a ludicrous refereeing decision of a different kind.
Belarusian ref Sergei Shmolik decided to go on a vodka binge before refereeing a top league game.
Doesn't get any more ludicrous than that.
Harald Schumacher vs Patrick Battiston
How exactly can you rush out of your goal, miss the ball, knock out an opposition player and not even give away a free kick.
Schumacher's victim—Patrick Battiston—had to be stretchered off in this World Cup semifinal in 1982 between West Germany and France.
The game ended 3-3 and obviously Germany won on penalties.
Duisberg vs FSV Frankfurt
Duisberg may have already been four goals to the good against FSV Frankfurt, but there's no need for the referee and linesman to rub salt in the wounds.
This effort that cannons off the cross bar and bounces one metre in front of the goal line is somehow declared a goal, causing Frankfurt to be 5-0 down.
How does it ruin the match? Well we're not sitting here talking about a great Duisberg performance are we...
Watford vs Reading
Watford vs Reading in 2008 was a classic encounter made famous by a John Eustace own goal. Only Eustace never came close to scoring an own goal, as the video footage above shows you.
The linesman advised the referee, the referee gave the goal. Carnage ensues.
England vs Germany 1966 World Cup
Whilst I am happy with the result of the 1966 World Cup final, the refereeing was pretty appalling in truth.
England were awarded a goal with the scores at 2-2 when it wasn't apparent whether the ball had crossed the line (modern day analysis suggests it didn't.)
The referee consulted his linesman, the linesman awarded the goal, England took the lead and went on to win the World Cup final 4-2.
That is a game changer on the biggest stage of them all.
Italy in World Cup 2002
Italy could probably consider themselves hard done by in the 2002 World Cup.
After having five goals incorrectly ruled out throughout the tournament for various reasons, they were also kicked to death by South Korea in the round of 16.
Above are their five perfectly valid goals that didn't count, and here is the massacre by South Korea.
On Twitter? Follow me @petercwebster where I post all my B/R content.