Five of the most bizarre refereeing decisions

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

A good moan at the referee’s expense is typical of managers and supporters alike. In a season rife with controversy, The Sport Review takes a look at five of the most bizarre decisions by referees to date.

1. Atletico Madrid’s weekend 4-1 victory over Valencia should have had the scribes waxing lyrical about their sleek style of play and quality of goals. Yet the Spanish papers Marca and El Mundo described the match as ‘The Burrull Show’. Alfonso Perez Burrull sparked controversy when he awarded a penalty to the home side after he previously dismissed the claim. It proved to be the correct decision but it raised the question of if it is correct for the referee to be swayed by player reaction even if it ensures no miscarriage of justice?

2. During Liverpool’s historic treble campaign they overcame some illustrious names in their UEFA Cup run including the Italian giants, Roma. With the tie finally balanced at 2-1 in Liverpool’s favour, the Spanish official, Jose Maria-Garcia Aranda, awarded the Giallorossi a penalty after Markus Babbel seemingly handled the ball in the box. However as substitute Gabriel Batistuta ran to fetch the ball and take the spot kick, Aranda appeared to change his mind instead signalling that a corner was to be taken. The Roma players protested furiously and the surrounded referee reacted by frantically waving a yellow card in the direction of any player who came near him.

3. Graham Poll travelled to the 2006 World Cup in Germany as one of the most distinguished referee’s in England. Eager to prove his credentials as a world class referee on the international stage, Poll suffered the embarrassment of issuing three yellow cards to Simunic before finally sending the Croatian off in the final group stage between Australia and Croatia. Widely tipped as a candidate to officiate the final, Poll was sent home after the group stages.

4. It was described by Aidy Boothroyd as ‘a monumental howler’, while Stephen Hunt remarked it was the worst decision he had ever witnessed in football. ‘The Phantom Goal’ was the main talking point of a typically bustling Championship game between Watford and Reading. A Stephen Hunt corner floated into the area and, after a scramble, trickled out of play despite the best efforts of Noel Hunt. The linesman Nigel Bannister had motioned a signal with his flag. The referee, Stuart Atwell, and both sets of players believed that Bannister was indicating that a goal kick should be awarded. However the assistant referee believed the ball to have crossed the goal-line and duly informed Atwell that Reading had taken a bizarre lead.

5. When Hamburg SV stormed to a 2-0 advantage over third division Paderbon it seemed inevitable that the Bundesliga side would progress with moderate ease into the second round of the German Cup in 2004. However the referee, Robert Hoyzer, had other ideas. He awarded Paderbon two dubious penalties and sent off HSV striker Emile Mpenza. The third tier outfit went on to win 4-2 and claim an historic victory. It emerged months later that Hoyzer was involved with Croat organized crime and had been fixing matches.


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