Van Persie's Red Card and the Worst 25 Refereeing Decisions of All Time

Yoosof FarahSenior Writer IIIMarch 14, 2011

Van Persie's Red Card and the Worst 25 Refereeing Decisions of All Time

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    As the controversy surrounding Robin van Persie's sending off rumbles on following Arsenal's acrimonious Champions League departure, calls for improvements in refereeing standards continue. 

    Whilst the subject of video technology will always be a permanent fixture in football talk, many are now clamouring for FIFA to focus on the man in the middle more so than anything else.

    Massimo Busacca's decision to send off Van Persie has generally been regarded as one of the worst refereeing decisions of all time, despite the fact he did indeed stick to the laws of the game.

    But how bad is his decision in comparison to others in the annals of football's officialdom calamity?

    Here are the 25 worst refereeing decisions of all time. 

Lucky Limon Keep Clean Sheet Despite Conceding

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    And they say English Premier League referees are bad!

    In a top-flight match in Costa Rica, Limon beat visitors Alajuelense 1-0 and push on with their league campaign. All very simple, it would seem, until you realise the away team did actually score and the goal was ruled out. 

    Instead, the referee simply waved play on after being the only person in the whole stadium not to realise the ball had actually gone into the net, then came back out again (as is usual when a player heads home a cracking goal) for the keeper to pick up in disappointment. 

    It was a literal case of the officials turning a blind eye. Perhaps Lucky Limon made a sly little underhand payment to the ref?

Reading's Goal-Kick Goal vs. Watford

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    Championship club Reading will probably never score an easier goal in their entire history following Phantomgate against Watford at Vicarage Road.

    After piling on the pressure, the Royals couldn't keep the ball in play as they searched for an elusive next goal, with the ball going just over the line.

    The eagle-eyed assistant referee saw this and told referee Stuart Attwell, who stopped play. Quite simple, Watford's keeper, as well as everyone on the pitch and in the stadium thought, as he lined up to take a goal kick.

    That was until the assistant referee insisted the ball had crossed the line, the goal line, leaving a confused Attwell to trust his deluded assistant more than himself and award Reading a goal, despite the visitors getting the ball on the wrong side of the post. 

    Tabloid rumour has it the assistant ref was at a magic mushroom party the night before and was still "feeling it" at work the next day. 

Roy Carroll's "Take a Bow, Son" Moment

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    Opposition fans will forever criticise lucky Manchester United always getting help from the officials when things don't go their way at Old Trafford.

    And in this case, back in 2005, when Roy Carroll calamitously dropped a 50-yard screamer from Tottenham Hotspur's Pedro Mendes, United did indeed get the rub of the green from the ref and were very lucky. 

    The ball went two yards into the net, clearly visible for everyone to see (apart from the officials, of course), before Carroll realised his mistake and hooked the ball out of the net, which went unnoticed by the none-the-wiser referee and linesmen. 

    Carroll was apparently fantasising over what he was going to have for dinner when he got home as Mendes took the shot.  

Hand of God

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    The greatest player of all time scored the greatest goal of all time. Then he did that. 

    At least England fans can take solace in the fact Diego Maradona subsequently went on a downward spiral of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. 

    Or rather, crippling weight problems and an out of control cocaine addiction. 

Robin van Persie's Nou Camp Nightmare

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    Following their acrimonious departure, Arsenal players, staff and fans were queueing up to tell journalists how bad referee Massimo Busacca was and how wrong he was to give Van Persie a second yellow.

    As if he didn't get the message the first time, the rest of the world football society decided to pitch in and condemn the referee. 

    Whilst Barcelona players and some fellow referees stuck up for Busacca, the majority labelled the decision a "disgrace," with it going down as one of the worst of all time.  

Freddie Sears' Curse of the Stanchion

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    After deciding he was bored of just being a small-time, Championship referee, Rob Shoebridge decided to hit the limelight by making his own controversial, or just plain stupid, decision. 

    Following a bit of a scramble in the penalty area, on-loan Crystal Palace striker Freddie Sears hit home the decisive goal against Bristol City. Or so he thought. 

    Sears not only found the back of the net, but the stanchion beneath it too, meaning the ball went all the way inside the goal then bounced out again as quickly as it came in. 

    Shoebridge then probably thought, "Stuff it, live for the moment, it's the things you don't do you regret!" before disallowing the goal with a rush-of-blood-to-the-head kind of moment in a desperate plea for attention.

    Surprisingly, Palace manager Neil Warnock wasn't happy. 

Mankini Man Gets It

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    The caption below this video on YouTube says "Unbelieve Jeff!"...and if Chris Kamara saw this while reporting for Sky Sports News on Soccer Saturday, he would indeed be telling Jeff Stelling that this was unbelievable.

    In a match between Dorchester Town and Havant & Waterlooville, a streaker wearing a mankini was rugby-tackled by Dorchester player-manager Ashley Vickers, who had had enough of the game being interrupted.

    To Vickers' dismay, his helping the officials earned him a red card and later, he said he was "dumbfounded" by the decision.

    The streaker, a Havant & Waterlooville fan identified as Alan Young, admitted he ran on to the pitch for a bet, saying: "It was only a bit of a joke, we all agreed at my local pub on Sunday I'd do it as a bet."

    Getting sent off for helping the officials, that is unbelievable, Jeff!

Luck of the Hosts for South Korea

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    Fast forward to 2:25 and you will see the officials' perfect excuse to let hosts South Korea win. 

    After Joaquin got the better of the Korean full-back, the former Real Betis man floated an expert delivery into the box for Fernando Morientes to head home and give Spain a deserved 1-0 win. 

    Or so they thought, until the referee brought to everyone's attention that the eagle-eyed assistant spotted something the whole world didn't—that the ball had crossed the line first for a goal-kick.

    In fact, it was such a sensational decision, even when the camera zoomed right in on the ball, it didn't even look like it crossed the line. In fact, the ball looked nowhere near going out for a goal-kick, that's how good the decision was. 

Same Old Chelsea...Even Back in the 70s

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    Same old Chelsea, always getting lucky, bitter Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Fulham fans will say. 

    But it has to be said, they haven't quite been as lucky in the refereeing department as they were back in the 1970-71 season, after they beat Ispwich Town 2-1.

    It's a match that'll always be remembered for that brilliant goal from Alan Hudson, who smashed the ball in from 25 yards. 

    Smashed the ball into the side net that is, "which is basically the same thing as scoring a goal, probably," said the referee when he made that decision, probably. 

Hack 'Em Down, Get a Goal-Kick

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    As a goalkeeper, what's the best way to stop the opponent from scoring in a one-on-one situation without getting sent off?

    According to Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher, it's to hack your opponent down and break his jaw, which is exactly what happened in the 1982 World Cup when France played Germany, as poor Patrick Battiston laid lifeless on the ground after daring to go one-on-one with Schumacher. 

    It's a philosophy by Schumacher shared by the referee, who instead of sending off the goalkeeper and awarding France a penalty like normal officials would do, decided to break the norm, be different and give a goal-kick. 

    In fact, the ref probably thought Battiston had dived and was feigning injury. 

No Zico Time for You, Brazil

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    As far as time wasting goes, Brazil were judged more harshly against Sweden at the 1978 World Cup than Van Persie was against Barca a week ago.

    The Brazilians were allowed time to take the corner, but not enough to subsequently head home the winner three seconds later.

    Zico's goal was ruled out and the game drawn as the referee decided three seconds was too long to wait to blow the final whistle.  

That Geoff Hurst Goal from '66

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    The most famous goal in English, and possibly world, football history, the debate over whether it crossed the line still rumbles on today, 47 years later.

    And as we all know, the goal was given for a fair reason. Stalingrad.  

That Frank Lampard Goal from 2010

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    Said to be revenge for the event on the previous slide, Frank Lampard's disallowed goal for England against Germany at the 2010 World Cup remains the most shocking decision of the tournament.

    The decision increased the growing clamour for FIFA to introduce video technology, with the hundreds of millions watching on television, as well as most inside the stadium, clearly seeing that it was a goal. 

    Everyone seemed to see it, apart from one FIFA official, who, when asked about the goal, said, "Sorry mate, I missed it unfortunately. I was too busy refereeing the match."

Ref Bows to Kuwait Pressure

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    What's the best way to get a goal overturned?

    Pretend as if you think play has stopped when you know you're going to concede a goal, then harass the referee and get your FA's president involved by telling him to come on the pitch and have a few words with the ref. 

    Then wave your arms and stand around for a bit, and you should get your goal overturned. It's a tactic deployed by all credible football nations, such as Kuwait.

    The deal was on the table from the Kuwaitis, the ref bought it and gave a drop ball instead of a legitimate goal.  

The Graham Poll Trick

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    And now for his next trick, Graham Poll will give the same player three yellow cards before sending them off. 

    That's what Sepp Blatter said to the FIFA ExCo committee when trying to justify why English referee Graham Poll was officiating at the 2006 World Cup. 

    In the end, though, it proved a calamitous mistake for Poll, who subsequently missed out on taking charge of the final. 

    Anyway, it does beg the question, how stupid must Josip Simunic have been to get three yellow cards? You'd have thought the guy would've learnt his lesson by the time he got away with two yellows!

Tom Henning Ovrebo

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    Labelled as a joke by Chelsea and completely de-humanised by Didier Drogba, who said of Ovrebo, "It's a f**king disgrace!" Norweigan referee Tom Henning Ovrebo did his absolute best to become a public hate figure in West London after taking charge of the Blues' Champions League match with Barcelona.

    Ovrebo's decisions are so bad you can take your pick of which one is worst. 

Fabio Grosso's Italian Acrobatics vs. Australia

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    Strong enough to out-muscle anyone outside the penalty area, Fabio Grosso went down like he'd been shot by a sniper following a "tackle" from Lucas Neill in stoppage time of Italy's World Cup match against Australia to take them into the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Cup.

    The referee's decision to give a penalty was so bad, even the deluded loon that is Sepp Blatter said he thought Australia were unlucky to go out in such acrimonious circumstances. 

    To sum up the thoughts of some Australians, a comment on this video which received a lot of likes says, "thumbs up for [Fabio] Grosso to get a debilitating disease."

If You Can't Find the Net, Find the Crossbar

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    Unless it's in the Bundesliga competition rules, where hitting the crossbar counts as a goal, this has to go down as one of the worst refereeing decisions of all time. 

    Not content with being 4-0 up, Duisburg went all out to get that fifth goal against FSV Frankfurt, but ended up smashing the woodwork.

    It didn't matter, though, as the ref gave the goal, for reasons only he will know.

    Perhaps he was with the linesman from slide two at that magic mushroom party? 

Spot the Foul

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    In a Columbian Cup match between ATL Junior and America de Cali, some players felt the need to come up with clever ploys to win an encounter intensely locked at 1-1.

    Creative set-pieces, intricate one-twos, superbly timed runs and precise finishes were all things ATL Junior players had in mind.

    One America player, however, came up with most genius of them all—run into the box, then fall over, even if nobody's around, and win a penalty.

    That's what he did and a penalty he won, despite the referee watching him right up until the point he fell over.  

The SFA's Exemplary Refereeing Standards

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    Skip to 1:15 and you'll see Scottish football in a nutshell. 

Le Hand of Frog

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    Enough to make any proud Irishman cry, Thierry Henry's handball to set up William Gallas for France's winner in their 2010 World Cup qualifying playoff match was the worst officiating decision of 2009.

    Whilst referee Martin Hansson was not to blame, as he couldn't see the ball, his assistant referee had a more than adequate view, with his more-than-controversial decision not to tell the referee to rule out France's winner for handball causing everything from riots to worldwide condemnation of French football.

    One of the most talked of moments in football history during the Noughties, the decision increased the pressure yet again on FIFA to introduce video technology.  

Heroic Defending in FA Trophy

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    In an intensely fought FA Trophy match between Droylsden and Blyth Spartans, one player decided to wear his heart on his sleeve and sacrifice himself for the team by acrobatically saving the ball from going over the line with his hand. 

    Fearing the inevitable red card and penalty, he was slow to get up, until it became the clear the referee somehow missed the save from a few yards away. 

    Slow motion replays of the incident show the handball clearly, further emphasising the "Unbelievable Jeff!" nature of how the ref missed it. 

    Then again, there are two logical explanations for the ref's decision. Either it's in the FA Trophy competition rules that you are allowed to handle the ball, or the referee spent a bit too long down his local boozer (pub) the night before and wasn't thinking straight the next day. 

    The latter's probably more likely. 

Carlos Tevez Goal Against Mexico

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    One of the worst decisions at the World Cup, Argentina took the lead against Mexico when Carlos Tevez was played through by Lionel Messi to hit home the opener.

    It wouldn't have been a problem, had Tevez not been three yards offside with the assistant referee looking straight at him. 

    A game-changing decision, Argentina went on to win 3-1 in a match that again questioned the capability of some FIFA officials. 

Maurice Edu Goal vs. Slovenia

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    Referee Koman Coulibaly did not make any American friends when he took charge of the World Cup match between USA and Slovenia, disallowing Maurice Edu's goal for...nothing, it would seem. 

    In a game of "spot the infringement," pundits poured over the footage for hours, crying "I can't see it, I just can't see it!" when trying to find a reason why Coulibaly disallowed the goal. 

    Going down as possibly the worst decision of a refereeing-disaster strewn 2010 World Cup, Coulibaly entered himself into the annals of officialdom calamity with this clanger. 

    In other news, see how long it takes in this video before the American fans realise the goal was "offsides." 

Brazil Ball Boy Scores Goal

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    Possibly the most calamitous decision of all time (even though this slideshow isn't ranked), a ball boy helped his team out by putting the ball into the net instead of giving it to the goalkeeper for a goal-kick after a shot went wide. 

    The referee, not realising that the shot went wide, turned round, saw the ball over the goal line and immediately assumed the shot went in.

    After consulting his equally clueless assistant, the referee awarded the goal, much to the dismay of the team, who before was winning 1-0 with one minute left to play.

    Needless to say, the referee was suspended by the Brazilian federation following the game, and said afterwards, "I should've just trusted my own vision (instead of consulting my assistant)."

    Perhaps this assistant too was involved in the magic mushroom party (presumably set up by FIFA)?