Unjust or Unsavoury? The Ovrebo Saga

Udit MohtaContributor IMay 7, 2009

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 06:  Didier Drogba of Chelsea argues with the referee after the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg match between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on May 6, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Twenty-one hours have nearly passed since the second semifinal of this year's UEFA Champions League was completed, and the conspiracies and moaning are continuing to rise.

Surrounded by dozens of Chelsea supporters at work, thousands on the net and millions around the world, it has been of common opinion that Chelsea were robbed off a place in the final by a UEFA dummy in dark grey who would not give a penalty if a player was hacked or if the opposition hand-balled.

Large parts of London seemingly are out there searching for referee Ovrebo, trying to get their hands on him. Unfortunately for them, he is being "smuggled" again. Unfortunately for them also, the decisions were not as unjust as they seem.

Lets cut the game down to the referees decision, and the five controversial ones. The four penalties Chelsea claimed and the Abidal red card.

Penalty Claim One

It was a foul, no doubt about it. However, the fouling process, and most part of it, occurred outside the box, and hence it was the correct decision to award a free kick rather than a penalty. Ovrebo cannot be blamed for getting this one wrong. Right decision, right punishment, right set piece.

Penalty Claim Two

This was one where if he gave it, it would be understandable, and since he did not give it, to the neutral, it is quite understandable as well. There was the minimal of touches on Drogba, a "foul" that would have never earned a free kick or been debated about if it occurred outside the box.

However, seemingly as it was one on one and even the slightest of touches to the body seems to be given sometimes nowadays, I understand the Chelsea perspective on this being a penalty.

But Ovrebo was not wrong, as the touch was minimal, and just like Malouda before, Drogba has a tendency to overreact, something which goes against players quite often. Ovrebo again cannot be blamed.

Penalty Claim Three

The most controversial of the lot, and possibly the most likely penalty. Any fan whose team is not given this one is going to wail and moan, and probably has a right to, as Pique's hand, though it was only for balance, seemed to be quite a bit extended, and it clearly struck only his hand. Handball in the box, usually a penalty.

Overbo's mindset and decision could have been altered by two factors. First was the fact that Pique seemed to genuinely not have a clue his hand was going to hit the ball.

Secondly, it did not seem like Anelka would reach it again even if it had gone through. Though the second factor should not be given that much of a weight, in a split second decision, it probably weighed heavily on Overbo's mind.

Understandable why penalty was not given, but Chelsea fans have a right to feel unlucky and angered for not receiving this decision.

Penalty Claim Four

The one which brings up the old rule, up to what part do we deem a "hand ball." Different referees, different interpretation, and even certain laws of different federations have debated this in the last few years.

Seemingly the ball hit Eto'o's arm, and again Eto'o most probably did not have a clue. Ovrebo saw this one flush in front of him. Again it was probably more of a case of not being a deliberate hand ball.

Chelsea fans again may have a right to feel unlucky though; however, the telling factor was Ballack's decision to scream and wail for the penalty. IF Ballack sought more clarity throughout the game and saved his temper, he may have seen the ball deflecting back from Eto'o, and could have had a good old thrash with his left boot.

That is what is more disappointing from a Chelsea perspective.

Abidal Red

Probably the least debated decision of the five, and amazingly enough probably the most unjust. If ever there was a moment where a player went down after being barely touched, this was one. Abidal got so much as a little flicker, and it was enough for him to receive marching orders.

Out of the lot this was probably Overbo's worst decision, but as it was Chelsea who lost and not Barcelona, this decision has not received the limelight that the others have.

All in all another Chelsea versus Manchester United Final would have been intriguing, if not to display the dominance of the BPL but to also view two evenly matched teams going against each other. However Barcelona versus Manchester United is gob-smacking to say the least.

Chelsea fans have a right to feel justice was not served, as they did not receive 1 out of possible 2 legitimate penalty claims, however it was only their fault that they ended up losing to a 93rd minute strike.

A 10-man team should have been shut out, and Chelsea should have concentrated on the game rather then the man in grey. Conspiracy or not, just or not, the acts of certain Chelsea players were unsavoury. They might have been robbed, but they let themselves get robbed as well.


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