You sometimes have to feel for the match officials.
While pundits and fans have the luxury of video replay (and it often takes three or four re-runs of the clip to arrive at a verdict), the referee and his assistants must make quick decisions based solely on what they have seen with their own eyes.
Most often, it must be said, they make the correct decision. But their jobs are made all the more difficult by players intent on conning them into awarding penalties they had no business winning.
Following are three examples of penalties awarded from the weekend’s action—each debatable, but each converted into a goal from the resulting spot-kick.
And no doubt on each occasion the officials got plenty of stick from an aggrieved set of supporters.
You really do have to feel for them. Sometimes.
Exhibit A: Arturo Vidal vs. Sampdoria
Arturo Vidal has developed something of a reputation as a diver as best exemplified by his shocking flop against Real Madrid in the Champions League Group Stage earlier this season.
On Saturday, he was involved in another controversial incident when he went to ground after the slightest touch from Sampdoria defender Vasco Regini.
Yes, there was certainly contact on the play. But enough for the referee to point to the spot?
Exhibit B: Coro vs. Rayo Vallecano
Elche found themselves in the driver’s seat after just 19 minutes on Saturday thanks to a series of controversial decisions from referee Pedro Jesus .
The first was the awarding of a penalty to hosts Elche after Coro hurtled to the ground under pressure from Vallecano midfielder Raul Baena.
The second was the very questionable ejection of Baena for his part in the play, and just to rub salt in the wound, Edu Albacar made no mistake from the spot.
Elche went on to win 2-0 and rise to 15th in the Primera Division table.
Exhibit C: Carlos Bacca vs. Atletico Madrid
At the 71st minute of their Primera Division match at home to Sevilla on Sunday, Atletico Madrid were 19 minutes plus stoppages removed from leap-frogging Barcelona into first place in the standings.
Then came an incident that would cost them their chance to move above the Catalans.
With a long-ball being played into the 18-yard box for Carlos Bacca, Atletico right-back Juanfran got tangled up with the striker who ended up drawing a penalty for the hosts.
Ivan Rakitic converted from the spot, ensuring Atletico would remain second in the table for at least another week.