Arsene Wenger: The Referee Was Not Dishonest, Just Incompetent

Siva PrasadCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2010

PORTO, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 17:  Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger argues with referee Martin Hansson after Porto score their second goal during the UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg match between FC Porto and Arsenal at the Estadio Do Dragao on February 17, 2010 in Porto, Portugal.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

I believe he is incompetent or dishonest, so I prefer to believe he is not competent ,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger , thus surely incurring the wrath of the inept UEFA, as he referred to Swedish referee Martin "Handball" Hansson during his Friday press conference , indicating clearly that he is still not satisfied after Arsenal ’s 1—2 loss at Porto in the Champions League second round first leg match.

Hansson, the same ref who failed to see Theirry Henry’s handball against Ireland, allowed Porto to take a quick free kick inside the Arsenal box following a back pass by Sol Campbell to Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski , resulting in the ball being turned into the back of the net within seconds.

Wenger gave his detailed view on the incident at hand, stating:

You cannot give a free kick once the referee is in the middle of the action.

Once he's there in the middle where the free kick is, where the ball is, he cannot give a quick free kick and has to make sure the opponent is at nine metres distance.

In that case the opponent had to be at least on the goal line.

A good portion of the football world has labelled Arsene a “hypocrite ” with “selective memory ,” forgetting that quick free kicks were not unheard of when Henry played for Arsenal.

That being said, the past is the past. And if this had happened to your team, you would be livid too.

The problem here is not that the referee has not followed the laws of the game; in fact it is FIFA and UEFA ’s fault for not making clear the directives on quick free kicks in football, and allowing referees to interpret it as they see fit.

It has been quite a while since we last saw a quick free kick taken so close to the goal, the reason being nowadays most referees demand the opposing player are at least 10 yards away from the ball, as Wenger also alluded to.

Furthermore, the referee took the ball away from the Arsenal goalkeeper and handed it to Porto directly. Quick free kicks usually involve the attacking team seizing the ball and hitting it, rather than the referee setting it up for them.

The final smack of injustice is the fact that it was not a goal scoring chance. Fabianski could have kicked the ball away, and his handling of it was a moment of madness, not an attempt to deny Porto a rightful goal.

Personally, I feel the referee did not think Porto would take it quickly. After all, he was standing ridiculously close to the action, even standing in the way of Campbell.

However, once he saw what happened, he just did not have the bottle to do anything about it.

As Didier Drogba once said about another referee’s performance, it was a "[censored] disgrace. "

Who Picks These Referees?

Tom Henning Ovrebo , the aforementioned f****** disgrace /accomplice in UEFA’s alleged plot to prevent back to back finals between English clubs in last year’s Champions League reared his bald head once more in Europe, as his error-strewn performance in the Bayern Munich—Fiorentina match eventually gifted the Germans a last gasp victory.

Ovrebo’s latest EP of blunders included:

1. Ordering Bayern to take a penalty after Arjen Robben was brought down, even though his teammate Mario Gomez had put the ball into the net.

2. Sending Fiorentina’s Massimo Gobbi off for an elbow on Robben, but only booking Miroslav Klose for a two footed lunge in front of the linesman.

3. Failing to see that Klose was well offside when he snatched the late winner.

It fits nicely into Ovrebo’s collection after he denied Chelsea four penalties last year against Barcelona , in addition to a questionable sending off for Eric Abidal.

Alex Ferguson gave his sound opinion, questioning the ability of referees from smaller nations to handle such high pressure matches:

“It is hard because they [referees from smaller countries] are not used to these games.”

Well, I for one would think that refereeing a match between Chelsea and Barcelona is vastly different compared to officiating a contest between Bodo/Glimt and Stromsgodset .

Going back to Wenger, he had a very good question to ask:

“Nobody knows really how they (UEFA) name their referees. Where is the ranking of the referees?

I believe too much has gone on in the last 30 years.”

My guess is they flip a coin, but I could be wrong.


“Superman” Sepp Blatter has promised to talk about giving “technological support ” to referees during the next FIFA meeting in March.

Initial unsubstantiated rumours suggest that the Mp3 players referees use during matches will be replaced with iPod Shuffles. Personally I would prefer a Nano, but I suppose that is too much of a give way.

Blatter also had this to say:

“I woke up after a tranquil night where I hadn't even watched television, but when I read the morning papers I jerked as once again the referees made the news for wrong decisions.”

Michel Platini must be seething with rage right now. UEFA deliberately spread out the Champions League matches in order to further increase TV audience, but the foremost authority on football himself is not watching.


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