If a referee is doing a good job, they hardly get noticed. It’s only if they make a mistake when they become the centre of attention, and we love a bit of controversy at Rush Football, so here are five incidents where referees have messed up. Warning: this list may be a traumatic read for England fans.


1. Andre Marriner

It was 2014, Arsene Wenger’s 1000th match in charge of Arsenal, who were already 2-0 down to Chelsea after seven minutes. Eden Hazard has a shot that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain responds to with a remarkable diving save, but uses his hand to deflect the ball around the post. This doesn’t go unnoticed, the players and fans erupt and Marriner storms towards the scene of the crime. Then marches past the Ox, and up to Kieran Gibbs, an innocent bystander, before producing a straight red. Despite a full confession from Oxlade-Chamberlain, Marriner insists that Gibbs needs to go take an early bath and after much confusion Kieran does just that and accepts being sent off for a handball someone else committed. Arsenal went on to lose 6-0, so an embarrassing day out for all involved, except Chelsea.

2. Graham Poll

It was the 2006 World Cup group stage, a match that would decide whether Croatia or Australia would secure the runners-up spot for Group F. An important match, and a terrible time for a referee to make a mistake. Now, to get to the World Cup you have to be a competent referee, and Graham certainly had lots of experience, but he somehow managed to book Josip Šimunić three times, without producing a red card, an act that’s so ridiculous that it is actually impressive. Poll booked the Croatian once, then again in the final few minutes of the match, then once more after the final whistle before finally remembering that a red card was due. Consequently, Poll and the other officials in his team, who also failed to spot the error, were not allowed to continue in the 2006 World Cup and Graham made the decision not to referee international tournaments anymore after that.

3. Ali Bin Nasser

Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’. You’ve all seen it, England against Argentina, Maradona passes to Jorge Valdano, Steve Hodge intercepts it but slices it back towards Maradona in the penalty area. Peter Shilton, who is considerably taller than the Argentine, comes out to punch it away. However, Diego reaches out and flicks the ball into the goal using his hand. Despite protests from the players, along with the confusion and reluctance to celebrate from other Argentinian players, Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser did not spot any issue and the goal stood.

4. Mark Clattenburg

It’s 2005, 89 minutes in and Manchester United and Tottenham are level at 0-0, a goal now would win the game. Pedro Mendes is aware of this fact and releases an ambitious shot from just beyond the half way line that flies through the air towards a badly positioned Roy Carroll. Carroll sorts his feet out but as he goes to catch the ball it pops out of his grasp and spills two yards into the goal. The keeper reacts too late and scoops the ball from well inside the goal as Mendes begins to celebrate. All eyes turn to Clattenburg for the final verdict, but as the ball was launched from the half way line he understandably had a bad view to see the incident clearly. He therefore opted to make the call that it did not cross the line. However, despite the distance, Carroll’s and the fans’ reactions should have led the referee to the other conclusion. Nevertheless, what the ref says goes and United escaped with a point.

5. Mauricio Espinosa

England 1. Germany 2. Frank Lampard strikes the ball at Manuel Neuer’s goal, it hits the underside of the crossbar and bounces well over the line before spinning back out. Lampard knows it went in, the Uruguayan referee Espinosa isn’t so sure, and denies the goal. England go on to lose 4-1. Another terrible refereeing mistake at the expense of England. The only positive that can be drawn from this incident is that it helped to force FIFA into introducing goal-line technology. So now England will have to find a new way to crash out of the next World Cup.




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