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Dissecting Infamous Referee Decisions

Tuesday 29th August 2017
A referee is said to have a good day when unnoticed. Also, that he's done well when everyone is angry. Most fans tend to disagree with both precepts.

Abuse raining down from the stands must be intimidating. So must 11 angry men surrounding you after a controversial call.
Or 22.
The weight of expectation pushing down on officials is immense. They aren't supposed to let it affect their judgment.

Tell that to Michael Oliver, who awarded Manchester United a penalty for what appeared to be Leicester's second unavoidable ball to hand in less than thirty seconds on Saturday. Whether the calls for a penalty on the first influenced him, only he knows. That he failed to order a re-kick after Kasper Schmeichel came well off his line to save Romelu Lukaku's spot kick does suggest he'd had enough controversy for one afternoon.

Here are five infamous referee decisions from the past and a little insight as to whether the officials were right or horrendously wrong.

Rivaldo vs Turkey - 2002 World Cup

Who can forget Brazilian legend Rivaldo's hilariously awful deception of South Korean ref Kim Young-Joo?

If you do need reminding, Brazil were playing Turkey at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Saitama, Japan. The Samba nation had won themselves a corner. Turkey's Hakan Unsal kicked the ball towards Rivaldo at the corner flag. Delivered with a bit of pace, though no obvious intent, it deflected off the Brazilian's knee.

Cue the dying swan act. The ref had been looking away. When he saw Rivaldo writhing on the ground, cradling his face in both hands, Unsal was shown red almost immediately. Bizarrely, the linesman didn't step in to advise the official regarding the blatant deception.
Incredibly dodgy decision, dodgy dive, and some dodgy haircuts as I recall. Not good. Eight months later, Adrien Brody won the Best Actor Oscar for The Pianist. Surprisingly, Rivaldo wasn't even nominated.

England v Germany - 1966 and 2010 World Cups

Sir Geoff Hurst is one of England's most heroic footballers. It's as simple as that. The morose star of '66 is probably best remembered for his emphatic hat trick over 120 minutes in the World Cup final but one goal caused enduring ill will between English and German supporters. I think you know the one I mean.

Hurst's second goal pushed England into a nervy lead. Yet, doubts remain after 50 years as to whether the ball even crossed the line. To make matters worse, the goal was awarded by a Swiss referee who couldn't actually converse with the Azerbaijani linesman. The pair shared no common tongue.
Sky Sports has since applied goal line technology to prove the ball was indeed over the line. Still, years of doubt can hardly be resolved thanks to a digital recreation.

Forty-four years later, die Mannschaft would get their revenge when Frank Lampard's clear goal in Blomfontein, South Africa, was seen neither by the referee nor his linesman.

This match wasn't so close as 1966. Nor was the call. Nevertheless, Three Lions fans will argue the denied strike entirely deflated England's ascendancy in the match.
One dubious call, one clear error. The second probably did more for video review's cause than any other play, however.

Zidane v Materazzi - 2006 World Cup

What is it about the World Cup and maddening decisions? Zinedine Zidane's last ever professional match saw the mercurial Frenchman headbutt Italy's Marco Materazzi after the defender apparently insulted Zidane's family in the aftermath of a French attack on goal.

Argentine referee, Horacio Elizondo, had no choice but to dismiss Zidane from the pitch. The question remains, however, as to whether Materazzi should've seen red too for provoking such a response from the usually cool Zizou. The play was away from the ball. Elizondo didn't see or hear anything.
After the fact, kniowing that the Italian took his trash talk a bit too far, most believe both players should have been heading for an early bath but Materazzi was spared the embarrassment of marching off holding his presumably sore chest. Rumour has it he received a congratulatory email from Rivaldo after the game.

Beckham v Greece - 2001 UEFA World Cup qualifier

This is going to cause some issues but, believe me, the decision is questionable.

Dutch official Dick Jol (yes, that's really his name), awarded a free kick to England after Costas Konstantinidis 'pushed' Teddy Sheringham in the back during an aerial duel. You tell me if that's a foul because it is definitely not under almost any circumstance.
Nevertheless, England's place in the 2002 World Cup was achieved through an innocuous foul in stoppage time during a match they would have likely lost were it not for a generous referee.
Kristian Webb
A Manchester United fan who actually knows where Manchester is; I'm the chief writer for AccumulatorTips, ForzaSwansea and a contributor to WhatCulture's video game section. I'm a professional proofreader, content author and SEO Expert but that doesn't mean there won't be the odd grammatical error!

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