Friday, 8 May 2009

There was no referee conspiracy

author: Carlo Garganese
source: Goal

date: 7 May 2009

“When people say it's all very suspicious then I get rather angry,” roared Guus Hiddink on June 23, 2002.

“Italy and Spain should look at themselves and their shortcomings rather than the referee’s. It's easy to go on blaming referees or linesmen. Of course they make mistakes, but coaches make mistakes, players make mistakes, and the press make mistakes. They go for you and against you.”

If you haven’t already worked it out, this was then South Korea coach Hiddink’s angry response following widespread claims that there had been a conspiracy at the 2002 World Cup to send his co-hosts through at the expense of Italy, Spain and, to a lesser extent, Portugal.

The 2002 World Cup has gone down in footballing infamy, and indeed the majority of supporters in Italy and Spain refuse to even acknowledge that tournament’s legality. The Azzurri had five perfectly good goals disallowed in three games for non-existent offsides, while they were eliminated by Hiddink’s Korea in the second round after an extra time Golden Goal. During that clash, Ecuadorian referee Byron Moreno awarded Korea a questionable penalty, harshly sent off Francesco Totti for diving, and disallowed a good Damiano Tommasi Golden Goal. Spain were the next victims of Korea in the quarter final, losing on penalties after they had had two legitimate strikes chalked off.

Fast forward seven years to May 6, 2009. Hiddink, now interim manager of Chelsea, had just been denied a place in the Champions League final following a dramatic injury time equaliser by Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta in West London. In the post-match interview, Hiddink, referring to five penalty claims that were turned down by referee Tom Henning Ovrebo, clearly implied on both English and Italian television that there may have been a sinister plot by those in positions of power.

“I won't say what we really feel, but it's an injustice. It's not just one doubtful call. Ask the people who put the referee in charge of this game,” the Dutchman moaned. “When all these things happen, then you start thinking,” he added.

I know what I'm thinking Guus, and it is not conspiracy, but hypocrisy. The regularity and enormity of the events at the 2002 World Cup were more than enough to form a conspiracy theory, yet Hiddink shrugged them off as Italian and Spanish sour grapes. What took place last night at Stamford Bridge was just plain bad officiating that penalised both sides in equal measure.

Of the five incidents that Chelsea have complained about, only one was a penalty – the clear handball by Gerard Pique. Dani Alves’ obstruction on Florent Malouda may have been inside the area, but obstruction is only a penalty offence when it is really serious, and this was not. The same can be said for Eric Abidal’s slight pull of Didier Drogba’s shirt before half time, which preceded a one second delay before the Ivorian catapulted himself onto the floor like he’d caught the plague.

In the episode involving Drogba and Yaya Toure on 56 minutes, both players were wrestling each other, and even if Kolo’s younger brother did draw back the Chelsea hitman, it was well outside the area. When the two players entered the box, Toure won the ball with a fair tackle. Finally, regarding Michael Ballack’s last-gasp appeal against Samuel Eto’o, the Cameroonian may have had his arm higher than usual, but it was clearly ball-to-hand (the very top of his arm and back), while he also had his back turned. FIFA’s ‘Laws of the Game’ are crystal clear on this.

It is amusing that Chelsea have conveniently overlooked the fact that Abidal was wrongly red carded on 65 minutes for a ‘professional foul’ when Anelka had tripped over his own feet. This forced Barcelona to chase the last 25 minutes of the game with just 10 men. As a result the space opened up for Chelsea on the counter-attack, and it was only after this dismissal that the stonewall Pique penalty incident occurred.

It is also peculiar how Chelsea have discarded the performance of referee Wolfgang Stark in the first leg at Camp Nou. During that game, Stark waved away an excellent Thierry Henry penalty shout, failed to send off Michael Ballack, and also harshly booked Carles Puyol, forcing Barcelona to start a left back at centre back, and a centre midfielder at left back last night.

Over the course of the two ties, the appalling refereeing decisions evened themselves out. There was no conspiracy Guus last night, but there sure was an absurd amount of hypocrisy.

read the full and original article here


Dan R said...

read it already, very good article!

skanjos said...

finally someone said it right, its good to know that not only us barca fans but most of the football reporters say that those would be bad penalty calls(except the pique ones,but dont forget the henry one in the first game).

great article,its on spot

Anonymous said...


SimonP said...

Says all the right things. But he forgets the extra 3 minutes that the referee found in his magic watch...

Messi108 said...

Very Good Article .
Spot on !

Ondra said...

What was the official extra time set by the referee?

Engineer said...

Henry is out until the Champions League final, at the EARLIEST.

I really hope he's recovered by then, he deserves a shot at that coveted trophy more than most players in the game today. :p

fcbee said...

I think it was 4 minutes, Ondra. Plus two substitutions is 5 minutes. Plus some time for the goal celebration?

hieifcb said...

I want to see Henry win his first UCL trophy.. it has been his dream.

Areign said...

when people start complaining about extra time, you know that they have no leg to stand on. probably the weakest argument in the book.

Anonymous said...

Ballack hand the ball too! Check this out:

BarcaFan(BiH) said...

7 Minute injury time for that second half was normal. It was 4 minutes originally but we scored and that added minimum another minute, plus the substitutions, that's another minute, plus the little stoppages in between.

Aussie Barca Fan said...

Guus is NOT a tactical genious! He is a hypocrite and an idiot. No wonder Madrid fired him as head coach. It all seems well not to blam the refs when it suits you but the minute it does, he brings out the firing squad.

This journo is absolutely right. Over the course of the two legs the decisions have balanced out. If Guus was such a 'great' tactitian then why didn't he attack us when we were 10 men down?? Why?? Because he always feared Barca. It has often been said the best form of defense is ATTACK. Hiddink has not done anything like this against Barca at all.

The fact he just incited and inflamed the situation further after the match by his stupid comments only made things worse. If Ballack and Drogba should go then so should Guss the GOOSE. The only Chelsea player to show any dignity was Terry and he was warmly received and praised by every Barca player. Hiddink should take a lead out of his book!

Bojan said...

Right on Aussie. For the record it was Anelka that Abidal was sent off from fouling. Hiddink should take more responsibility in the way he reacted. If Drogba should apologise then so should he and Ballack. You are right though, if he was this 'super coach' he should have attacked us when we were down 10 men.

I hope we clinch the title this weekend.

Custom Search
Custom Search