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October 2016
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The world of refereeing utterly and totally shattered

By Tony Attwood

Ten years ago we knew where we were.  Refs made mistakes, but  it didn’t matter because it all evened out in the end.

Five years ago we knew that referees made mistakes and it most certainly didn’t even out in the end – but no one would talk about it, except us.

Six months ago we knew that referees made mistakes, they didn’t even out in the end, and people were starting to talk about it.

Today we know that if a referee makes a mistake and changes his/her mind having seen a replay then the referee is punished.

But if a referee makes a mistake and doesn’t change his/her mind then the match (or at least a bit of it) has to be played again.

And in this case it is the final 18 seconds.  Because it is the final 18 seconds of England Women’s U19 European Championships qualifier against Norway will be replayed after a refereeing mistake.

The match will resume with England retaking a penalty in the 96th minute at 2-1 down following an appeal by the FA.  The referee had refused to order a retake of the penalty after encroachment by players.

Law 14 says that if an attacking player encroaches and there is a goal the penalty is retaken.  If there is no goal the defending team gets an indirect free-kick.

If the defending player encroaches and there is a goal, the goal stands.  If the penalty is missed it is taken again.

So when England midfielder Leah Williamson took a penalty and “scored” but with one of her fellows encroaching, the penalty should have been retaken.  But the ref got it wrong and ordered an indirect free kick to Norway.

So what this means is that if the ref applies rule wrongly the side that suffers can appeal.  The ref has gone home in disgrace.

Both England and Norway have been ordered to use the same 11 players although as per the rules a different person can take the penalty.

Maybe this has happened before – Walter can perhaps let us know.

Meanwhile an Argentine referee has got into trouble by changing his mind about a penalty award after (according to reports) one of his assistants saw a replay of the events leading up to the penalty on a TV monitor, and told the ref.

And the events involved Arsenal – although that is to say, Arsenal Fútbol Club, usually called Arsenal de Sarandí from Buenos Aires.

The referee, German Delfino, said that Arsenal’s Daniel Valencia prevented a goalscoring opportunity by handling the ball in the area.  He was sent off and the opponents, Vélez, were awarded a penalty. The replays showed it was instead the Vélez striker Mariano Pavone who handled the ball, not the Arsenal man.

The referee, having awarded the penalty and dismissed the player wrongly, changed his mind and called Valencia back to rejoin his team on the pitch.

So now, Mr Delfino, who one might have thought would be commended for being courageous, has been suspended for one match for failing to control the game.  After that he will be relegated to the lower leagues. The fact that Mr Delfino has denied the issue of seeing the replays has been dismissed also, and he is found guilty through the usual Fifa rule of “because we say so”.

But that wasn’t all of it, because Valencia was sent off again during extra time after receiving a second yellow card for a professional foul, thus becoming the first player to be sent off twice during the same game in the Argentinian league.

What fun.


 On this day

9 April 1904: Arsenal and Preston NE battled it out for top spot in the league in front of 28,000.  It was the final game for Tommy Shanks who rather than lead Arsenal into the first division returned to failing Southern League team Brentford.

And elsewhere

When Arsenal played nine games in ten days

29 comments to The world of refereeing utterly and totally shattered

  • TailGunner

    I wonder what the situation will be if one of the teams (England/Norway) are for some reason or other unable to field the exact same players for that “replay”.
    Does this now create a precedent?

  • mick

    Arsenal should immediately demand a replay of last seasons match against Chelsea where Mariner sent of Gibbs instead of Ox.

  • Gord

    The reason given in one news article, is that this replay must be done because it is an error in Law, not an error in judgement.

    On a penalty shot, if an attacking player encroaches the area, the penalty must be retaken. If a defending player encroaches and the goal is scored, the goal stands. An English player encroached on an English penalty, hence the error in Law.

  • @Swales1968

    At some point in the near future one of the very rich clubs will take a ref, their league or even UEFA or FIFA to court over a decision. Then we will see cahos within the game

  • Gord

    OT: I think an Arsenal player has been waiting a LONG time to send this (slightly edited). From the (small) collection of player twits on the front page of

    > AbouVDIABY

    > RT @Arsenal: TEAM NEWS: @JackWilshere, @m8arteta and @AbouVDIABY available. @MatDebuchy also fit and ready #BFCvAFC

  • Pete

    I always thought that the referee’s decision is final once the match has restarted (with the exception of retrospective disciplinary evidence for potential or actual red card offences)? Obviously the ref in the England-Norway game got it wrong but I find it hard to believe that the end of the match will be replayed.

    This will create chaos and is an awful decision. Consider scenarios:

    – Incident happens in first half, and Norway go on to win comfortably.
    – One of the players is injured between the games.
    – It is not logistically possible to replay the remaining period (e.g. another match takes priority, one of the teams has gone home etc).
    – What happens if it is a final and cup and medals have been awarded?

    An incident a few years back in a youth match I was present at springs to mind:

    Team A commences making a substitution with agreement of referee with ball out of play.
    Referee restarts match before substitution is completed (substitution took a while as Team A player was injured and had to be helped off field).
    Team A is one player short.
    Team B run down the field and score straightaway.
    Team A manager appeals.
    Referee disallows goal and restarts match as he should have done from the substitution.

    After match Team B appeal result due to error in law of referee (i.e. he had restarted match).
    Appeal disallowed as referee’s decision is final.

  • Pete

    On a different note, I have a strong sense that refereeing performances since the turn of the year have been far less biased against Arsenal than those prior. It is also noticeable that some of the most hostile referees of all – e.g. Dean/Taylor – have been reasonably well behaved. There is still some bias, but much less game-changing.

    However I don’t really have the evidence to back this up. I would be very interested to know if Walter or Andrew agree with me?

  • WalterBroeckx

    I can only go from the way Tony described the situation in his article and then it is clear that it is about a referee who made the correct judgement (a law has been broken – encroachment of a player at a penalty) but acted against the laws of the game that tell how to restart after seeing the breaking of the law.
    I don’t know the technical term in English but translated from Dutch it should be called an ‘arbitral error’. And that isn’t the same as a wrong judgement.

    Arbitral errors (or whatever called in English) can only be corrected with the game being replayed from the error on. But this is rarely happening in real life. Because it is difficult to prove in a court case. Unless you have of course video evidence. And that certainly will have been the case for an international match. In lower leagues it is the word of the ref against the word of the complainer. And just as with a police officer, judges will give bigger weight on the declaration of a ref (police officer) who is not a party involved. Meaning they don’t suffer or gained from the decision made. If a police officer gives me a fine for driving through a red light I can argue as much as I want that it was green, the judge will believe the police officer. I am involved as I have to pay the fine and the police officer doesn’t benefit directly from the fine as it goes to the state and not to his personal bank account.

  • WalterBroeckx

    About the incident in Argentina it would be great if anyone could show me some pictures of this incident.
    I think what should matter most is that the ref made the right decision during the match. I am a strong advocate of brining in video evidence and my only concern is to make sure that when the spectators go home, they know that the decision of the ref (judgement of the foul) was correct.
    The reason they get on the ref is that he showed that it can be used to make correct decisions and somehow the football authorities in some countries don’t like that idea. One can wonder why….

  • Gord

    1 Reading FC v Arsenal
    Saturday 18 April (5.20pm) at Wembley Stadium
    Referee: Martin Atkinson
    Assistant Referees: Michael Mullarkey & Gary Beswick
    Fourth Official: Andre Marriner

    2 Aston Villa FC v Liverpool FC
    Sunday 19 April (3pm) at Wembley Stadium
    Referee: Michael Oliver
    Assistant Referees: Stuart Burt & John Brooks
    Fourth Official: Lee Mason

  • TailGunner

    You have to feel sorry for that referee, but it shows that video tech can work.
    How about the player getting sent off twice? What a knob!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks GoingGoinggooner,
    Looking at the incident in total it took more than 8 minutes in total. And this is because there is no procedure for this. It was easy to see from almost the first real slow motion that it was the attacker who handled the ball and not the defender. So the ref talking to the 4th ref or video ref asking: ‘who handled the ball’ and then it would take around 5 to 10 seconds to say to the ref: the attacker handled, foul and yellow card against the attacker. And that was it.
    Of course now using video images is not allowed and hence the punishment comes out. But at least the supporters got what Fifa wanted and what I want.
    Fifa wants: that people have something to talk about in the pub after the match
    I want: fair decisions on the field and all going home in the knowledge that the decisions from the ref were correct.

    Show the images on the big screens inside the ground and everyone can see that the ref was right in the end.

    Everybody happy I would say

  • TailGunner

    I’ve just read The Guardian’s (the fiver) take on the penalty, and they reckon that England should keep on infringing until the football authorities wake up to the stupidity of the rule.

  • OlegYch

    TailGunner there is nothing stupid about that rule, retake only happens if the infringing team scores

  • AL

    So did the England-Norway match finish 2-2 then? Not sure if I’m missing something?

    Atkinson, again?? These days it seems it’s either of Taylor, Artjkinson or Oliver, with a sprinkling of Probert. What’s going on? While I agree with Rich that since the turn of the year the tilting hasn’t been as bad as it was at the start of the season, Atkinson is one of those refs who worry me; you know the ones that will make such blatantly obvious decisions and stick two fingers at you. Anyway, I guess the only good thing that could come out of this is we won’t see for the Chelsea fixture. Sure someone at pgmob must have struggled with this one; letting Arsenal have the chance to get to the final, and save Atkinson for our clash with Chelsea. Or they thought Arsenal are too far behind to threaten Chelsea’s league position so we get spared Atkinson this time (but make us a face a real possibility of getting knocked out of the FA cup). But surely we will see him in one of the last 6 matches should Chelsea’s title charge falter.

  • Genorm

    Oh no – Dean again for Burnley. Ugh.

  • TailGunner

    Whatever! I’m just quoting the newspaper, not giving an opinion

    The score stands at 2 -1 until the “replay”

  • AL

    Yes, but I was wondering if the score stood at 2-0 before the penalty was taken, or if it was 2-1. Anyway, I think i get it now. Thanks.

  • Rich

    Hopefully I’m not tempting fate here * but, despite the importance of the game, I’m much less worried by the prospect of Atkinson than I normally would be. My fears that this season’s run-in could easily see refereeing against us plumb Riley at Old Trafford depths have,as yet, not been borne out, at all; and, more importantly, for bad refereeing to cost us I think we would also have to produce a performance well below our recent ones.

    I hope I’m not complacent but while the final step for the team is to again become capable of dealing with the greatest adversity-specifically, going behind- against our hardest opponents, I think in the event of that happening against all the rest, including Reading, we are well equipped to deal with it.

    Atkinson for sure would jump at the chance to give a weak pen or sending off against us, so there’s that, but I still think we’re in great shape at the moment and can deal with a fair bit of dodginess (last year’s final wasn’t short of it) so long as we are near our best. Worst harm he can probably do, in all respects, is if he lets them get away with stinking challenges.

    If he ‘thinks’ Cahill on Sanchez was a yellow, players are less safe with him than they should be.

    * (supposedly I don’t believe in that stuff but, if I honestly examine how I am with Arsenal, I suppose I must do)

  • OB

    I have seen refs in the premier league countless times talking on their mic and listening to someone who has “had a different view” of an incident, who knows where that “different view” has come from…

  • Menace

    The score was 2-1 to Norway when the referee made the mistake of awarding a free kick to Norway when England ‘scored’ with a player infringing the area.

    The replay has resulted in England scoring the penalty without infringement, & so England qualify for the finals in Israel.

    The PGMO are not behaving themselves, just appearing to. The appointment of Atkinson shows the that there is still the Riley shadow. I hope that Arsenal cope with this & win despite the obvious that will occur.

  • omgarsenal

    The Laws were and are still designed to ensure that an error on the officials part in interpreting and applying the Laws will not disadvantage any team. If the referee did not restart play after the Norway free-kick she could have , based on what her assistant said, retake the penalty. However by restarting play with a free-kick, she made what is called a ‘ referee technical error’ by failing to apply the Law properly. This is a serious oversight and is inexcusable at FIFA level. Refs are human and make mistakes BUT they must NOT make serious technical errors…..that brings the game into disrepute and encourages the ongoing perception that referees are incompetent.
    The referees decision is final in points of the Law EXCEPT where they make a technical error like this referee did, then FIFA is entitled to review the incident and require a replay, which is in the Laws and ancillary decisions.

  • Al

    You’re right about Atkinson. I think he’ll try to make a decision that’ll hurt us, if not for this match alone then the upcoming ones. He could easily send off a key player via a straight red and that’ll mean said player misses the next three matches. A red and a penalty might even be on the cards, so that we get maximum punishment, watch out koscielny. After watching the injustices in last year’s final I don’t think the pgmob will just let us walk away with the cup. We will have to fight hard for this.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Atkinson the ref a week before we play Chelsea… He could try to send off a key player like happened with Giroud against QPR at the Emirates. Allowing QPR to kick us and when Giroud was pushed in to the keeper in a dangerous way and he reacted he got send off. Ref on that day…. yeah… Atkinson. We then missed Giroud in 3 matches and one of them at Southampton as a result.
    Had Atkinson done his job earlier on and give cards gainst QPR players things might have been different…

  • Menace

    PGMO Rule OK!! Damned shame on the FA to allow such cheating bastards free rein to decide winners by stealth. In past seasons there were several of these advance bookings & sending offs to ensure choice victories.

    The evidence is written in history so it is not assumption.

    Arsenal do it despite the handicap. This season will not be any different, remembering the 50th match to go undefeated.

    We should have a banner commemorating that match with a minutes applause for sportsmanship & 30 seconds silence for cheats.

  • Menace

    Walter – cards can impact the whole season because the FA cup falls within the next 3 matches.

  • Al

    Oh yeah, remember that now, Walter. That was a premeditated sending off on Giroud. Atkinson chose to ignore the qpr player’s initial foul. Even Ferdinand who grabbed Giroud by the back of his neck right in front of Atkinson was not even cautioned. Yes, this appointment stinks. Let’s hope we finish with 11 men tomorrow.

  • Al

    If we finish with 11 men next Saturday, that is. Of course it’ll still be the aim to finish with 11 again tomorrow 🙂