In what must be the most ridiculous sending-off in the history of football, Arsenal’s Robin van Persie was sent off in the Champions League match against Barcelona.
Having already received a yellow card, the striker took a through ball down the centre of the pitch and launched a shot on goal. But the linesman had raised his flag for offsides and the referee had blown his whistle.
With over 100,000 screaming fans in the stands at Nou Camp, van Persie failed to hear the whistle. As a fan watching the game on the television, I failed to hear the whistle either.
Regardless, van Persie was issued his second yellow and sent off for delaying the game—a very dubious decision. Replay technicians at the game reviewed the play, and it was stated that even if van Persie had heard the whistle, the time between the whistle and van Persie’s shot was a mere second.
Had he heard the whistle and still made the play he did, one second can hardly be considered a delay of game.
Had this referee ever been involved in a football match before? I suppose that, when lining up a free kick, he must have been doling out the yellow cards like handing out candy to kids. Every free kick I have ever seen has taken more than one second to be put back into play. Not to mention the real delay tactics that dominate every match when one team has a lead over another and the clock is winding down.
I am sorry, but the call by today’s referee was a travesty.
It was such a terrible call that I came away from watching the game feeling as if I had been robbed of a fair match—as if the game had been fixed and the winner pre-determined by the officials.
Sure, Barcelona may have looked like the better team anyway, but we football fans will never know if Arsenal was up to the task. The referee insured a victory for the home team with what has to be the worst sending off I have ever seen in 35 years of playing and watching football.
The only excuse I can think of for this sham is that it was a make-up call for the karate kick Nigel De Jong made on Xabi Alonso in last summer’s World Cup final, the loose connection being that van Persie is Dutch and Barcelona is in Spain.
Just for the record, I am a neutral fan with no allegiances to either Arsenal or Barcelona. I tuned in to watch a match between two huge clubs and was rewarded with a game that revolved around the officiating. Barcelona and Arsenal are great teams, but we will never know who truly won this match because, in my opinion, the referees won the game, not any team.