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August 2021

The Untold ref review: Barcelona – Arsenal

Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

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By Walter Broeckx, the untold ref

When someone on this site said it was Busacca as the ref I felt bad. I remembered him from our game in Shakhtar and felt he was a home ref in that game. So how was his game? Just take a look.

Min Type Text C/NC pts weight on
1 OTHER Foul from Clichy C 1 1 1
3 OTHER Little push from Nasri on Alves C 1 1 1
5 OTHER Foul on Clichy C 1 1 1
6 OTHER Push in the back from nasri not given. Arsenal lose the ball NC 0 0 1
7 OTHER Foul on Cesc from Alves C 1 1 1
7 OTHER Offside against Van Persie C 1 1 1
10 OTHER Offside against Barcelona C 1 1 1
11 OTHER Offside against Arsenal C 1 1 1
11 OTHER Foul from Diaby C 1 1 1
12 OTHER Foul on Nasri not given another push in the back NC 0 0 1
12 OTHER Foul on Cesc given C 1 1 1
13 OTHER Clear foul on Cesc not given NC 0 0 1
15 OTHER Foul from Koscielny C 1 1 1
15 CARD Ref gives a yellow card for this. This is soft. A big handicap for Arsenal and Koscielny from now on. NC 0 0 2
25 OTHER Tackle from behind on Nasri. Alves playes the ball but he also makes a scissor and clamps the legs of Nasri. The ref gives no foul. This is wrong. Playing the ball when you tackle from behind is very nice but if you go in to the man doing this it is a foul and a bad one. If you see the tackle again you can see that Alves closes his leg and kicks at Nasri. NC 0 0 1
25 CARD This should have been a yellow card NC 0 0 2
26 OTHER Foul from Van Persie C 1 1 1
28 OTHER Foul on Diaby not given NC 0 0 1
29 OTHER Foul on Van Persie push in the back and he loses the ball from this NC 0 0 1
29 OTHER Rosicky then thinks that pushes in the back are allowed and also does it but he is called back. Ref should punish the first push. NC 0 0 1
29 CARD The ref then gives a yellow card against Sagna for giving the ball not immediatly to a Barcelona player. A bit childish from the ref to act like that. And another yellow card for an Arsenal defender for almost nothing. NC 0 0 2
30 OTHER Offside against Barcelona C 1 1 1
31 OTHER Obstruction on Nasri not given NC 0 0 1
32 OTHER Offside against Barcelona C 1 1 1
32 OTHER Djourou is being pulled to the ground. Barcelona can take possession and this almost leads to a penalty NC 0 0 1
33 PENALTY Diaby brings Messi down just inside the penalty area. The ref gives nothing. For me this was a penalty. NC 0 0 3
33 OTHER Push in the back from nasri not given. I start noticing some frustration by some players. NC 0 0 1
34 OTHER Foul on wilshere not given NC 0 0 1
34 OTHER Foul from Arsenal not given NC 0 0 1
36 OTHER Foul from Wilshere; Strange thin is the ref only gives the foul after the Barcelona players complain to him C 1 1 1
36 CARD The Barcelona players ask for a card and the ref gives it to them. Can be given. C 1 2 2
38 OTHER Foul on Alves from Clichy. But the way Alves is making it look as his leg has been kicked to pieces is ridiculous. Wanted another yellow card against Arsenal. Clichy hardly touched him. C 1 1 1
41 OTHER Rosicky and Abidal challenge for the ball with high feet no foul given. Rosicky played the ball. Abidal pretende to being hit by a rocket. C 1 1 1
43 OTHER Corner given for Arsenal. Not correct NC 0 0 1
44 OTHER Strong challenge on Wilshere but no foul imo C 1 1 1
44 CARD Abidal takes Van Persie by his troath and not one of the 6 officials has seen this. Abidal should have walked with a red card NC 0 0 3
45 CARD Van Persie is furious and pushes Alves on the face. Alves goes down as if Tyson as hit him on the face. Van Persie gets a yellow card. Should have been a red card. But this is all down the the ref not doing his job. NC 0 0 3
45 GOAL Nothing against the rules with that goal C 1 3 3
45 OTHER Offside against Barcelona C 1 1 1
45 OTHER Foul on Wilshere given C 1 1 1
46 OTHER Foul from Wilshere given C 1 1 1
47 OTHER Push in the back from Messi against Koscielny not given. Arsenal lose the ball and Barcelona get chance and a corner NC 0 0 1
51 OTHER Nasri is pulled back nothing given NC 0 0 1
53 GOAL It is not against the rules to score from on own goal C 1 3 3
55 OTHER Offside against Van Persie C 1 1 1
55 CARD Well you could have expected it from the ref. A very hard decision and an important one. If you want to follow the rules very strict in a game, whic he didn’t you could give it. But then you have to punish each kick against the ball after the whistle with a yellow card. He never did so this decision was completely out of line with the rest of his game. So I really think he had a score to settle with Van Persie. To take such a decision in such a game shows that the ref lacked some common sense. NC 0 0 2
55 CARD As this was the second card he had to go NC 0 0 3
62 OTHER Offside against Barcelona C 1 1 1
64 OTHER Foul from Rosicky not given NC 1 1 1
66 OTHER Foul from Nasri C 1 1 1
66 OTHER Foul from Rosicky C 1 1 1
67 OTHER Foul given against Messi C 1 1 1
68 GOAL Nothing against the rules with that goal. A strange thin was that both Diaby and Djourou slipped during the build up which made the gap open up. Also notice that Sagna touched the ball and so it made a jump over the hand of Almunia who had it covered I think. C 1 3 3
70 PENALTY I dont think we can have much argument. Koscielny stuck out his leg and touched Pedro. Nothing else the ref could do. C 1 3 3
71 GOAL If I want to be very strict like Busacca was with the sending off I must look at the fact that 3 Barcelona players are in the penalty area when Messi shoots. No Arsenal players. So according to the laws of the game the penalty should have been retaken and the goal cancelled. Also before the penalty was taken the ref made it clear to the Arsenal player sthat they should keep out of the penalty area. So when you specificaly point at this you should be consistent and also punish the Barcelona players. But yeah right…. C 1 3 3
74 OTHER Foul on Koscielny C 1 1 1
76 OTHER Foul from Nasri advantage give C 1 1 1
77 OTHER Foul on Sagna C 1 1 1
77 OTHER Offside against Arsenal C 1 1 1
79 OTHER Foul from Clichy C 1 1 1
80 OTHER Offside against Barcelona C 1 1 1
81 OTHER Offside against Barcelona C 1 1 1
84 OTHER Offside not given from Alves NC 0 0 1
84 OTHER Foul from Clichy C 1 1 1
87 OTHER Foul on Arshavin not given NC 0 0 1
87 OTHER Hands from Arshavin after him losing the ball. Should have given the first foul ref NC 0 0 1
88 OTHER Foul on Wilsher not give NC 0 0 1
89 OTHER Foul on Arshavin not given NC 0 0 1
92 OTHER Foul from clichy not given NC 0 0 1
93 OTHER Foul on Koscielny C 1 1 1
94 OTHER Foul from Wilshere C 1 1 1
    TOTAL   42 53 94
    %   59,15% 56,38%  
  CARDS 3 8 37,50%  
  PENALTY 1 2 50,00%  
  GOAL 4 4 100,00%  
  OTHER 3 6 50,00%  
  TOTAL 11 20 55,00%  

For being one of the former top refs in Europe this is a low score.

Additional numbers: Fouls not given for Barcelona 5 and not given for Arsenal 15.

When they teach us how to ref they sometimes speak about the unwritten rule. The rule of the common sense. Busacca has never ever heard of that – as for example when he sent Van Persie in the dressing room. I really had the impression that this was some kind of personal vendetta between the ref and Van Persie. I had the feeling that the ref was waiting for this to do.

But this wasn’t the only key moment in the game where he completely missed it. No the fact that Abidal could stay on the field after grabbing Van Persie is very bad. No player stays on my field when I see them doing it. And there comes another big failure of this ref: he didn’t see it because he was doing the wrong things at the time. He was too busy minding the treatment that Wilshere was getting and telling them to get off the field. And while he was doing that complete anarchy ruled behind his back.

I have seen him doing this a few times (the turning his back to possible dangerous situations) so this is something that a ref of his calibre should not let happening. But on the other hand why did no one of the 5 other officials around the field didn’t see it? If Abidal would have been sent off like he should have been it was 10 vs 11 but with Arsenal with 11 on the pitch and then Van Persie would not have felt the need to take matters in his own hands like he did.

This is a typical situation where from missing a vital thing as a ref you start sliding down the slope and you go from bad to worse. On the other hand if Van Persie would have stayed calm after the Abidal incident the ref couldn’t have booked him twice. So not very clever to do. Don’t give the ref the chance to get you.

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About the scored penalty goal it should have been cancelled. Not that the players were very far in the penalty area but the ref pointed at the Arsenal players before the penalty that they should stay out of the penalty area. They did this very well. But then as a ref when you have pointed this out to one team you should handle the same rules to the other team. Which he didn’t. As I didn’t wanted to look too much like someone who has been on the sour grapes I still gave him the points for the goal. But let us say that, not for the first time, he was rather inconsistent.

A few remark from my part about the card waving by Barcelona players. Still forbidden by the instructions but some refs don’t know about it I think.  And finally the way the Barcelona players went down after some fouls as if their legs had been kicked to pieces. Alves is the specialist in this and as I have heard that Man City is after him it will be fun next year to see him rolling around the field after meeting up with some teams.  But then I wonder how much time is lost with this rolling around pretending you are dead and the seconds that went lost when Van Persie had his fatal shot at goal. Gives you something to think about as I don’t think the time that Van Persie wasted was that much if you compare it to other moments when time was lost.

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74 comments to The Untold ref review: Barcelona – Arsenal

  • Shard

    I haven’t even read ahead yet Walter, but I have to disagree with the first decision itself. The foul by clichy in the first minute was a Xavi dive. (followed by play acting)

  • Omo-nla

    I was expecting a lower percentage but as you rightly said, a top ref in europe should do more than this. According to Uefa their referee evaluation committee will look at the performance of the ref. If after looking and find the ref culpable, I think his punishment should be made open for all to see. But I doubt if he will be punish at all.

  • Mikkel

    thank you Walter, but you seem to have missed the two other troathgrabbers. After Abidal, both Valdes and Adriano grabbed Nasri the same way. Personally i think that saved Abidal, no way ref would issue 3 cards.

  • Shard

    For the rest, have no complaints. I cannot believe that the referee was even trying to be fair in this match. I think he was under pressure to give the result one way without seeming to do so. Of course when we got back into it, he had to take drastic measures, but even that sending off is being justified by some, including Xavi the great.

    Seriously, F**k Barcelona. I have no respect for them. They used to be one of my favourite teams (even when they weren’t winning), but the way they behave is beyond terrible. I can’t wait for them to have a run of failure again. And I have a feeling it’s not as far into the future as most would think.

  • walter

    Mikkel, wait there is more to come on this subject. If you have any images showing the throat grabbing from Barcelona please let me know.
    The problem is that apart from the Van Persie by Abidal no images were shown on my TV. After I wrote my ref review I found out about them. And this should have lowered his score even more.
    The score I get now is in fact already unacceptable for a ref in the CL I think.

  • walter

    Shard, I completely agree with you.
    For years I liked Barcelona. I respected them. But if a team can take 2 players by the throat (and if Mikkel can show me the third one) then this means that there is something totaly wrong in the head of these players and with the behaviour of this team.

  • gooner80

    I seem to keep seeing the same pattern!!! The refs are usually fair and level first half (USUALLY)and then if the result is not going the way it is supposed to they crank up their NONSENSE.

    NOW the refs are Mic up we SHOULD have the right to hear the conversations they have with linesman, these conversations should be monitored and recorded to show their is no bias, if andy gray can get sacked for something he says off air the refs should face the same treatment.

    FOOTBALL is TOO IMPORTANT, it is the only sport i know that has not embraced any technological advancements, they have deliberately made the offside rule ambiguous so they can cheat more, it is clear they dont want technology because it becomes MUCH HARDER to CHEAT, No way you wouldnt give RVP the benefit of the doubt. These refs are nothing but stooges who have no integrity, I would rather get the sack then give someone the game. What do they do a half time wait for the call in the changing room “boss which way does the came have to go”? this is similar to the mafia controlling sunny liston and others in boxing you are going down in the 4th. who is to say organised crime could not get refs, officials in their pocket and threaten their families if they dont do what they say, no one would speak up against them, if organised crime wanted to make serious money that is much safer than drugs and much harder to expose betting is the perfect arena

  • marcus

    Milan 89-95 were simply imperious.

    This team is not on that level at all.

    Their defence is like a gourd, it rattles when shaken.

    And they really struggled to win a match like this.


    I am not a ref, but their players were going to ground like sacks of spuds, and we got a load of joke yellow cards.

    Plus they used intimidation, and the referee turned a blind eye.

    They should have had 3 players sent off for throat grabbing.

    I just hope they meet Chavs in final and lose to them.

  • Shard


    The way they behave is not the way a great team or a great club behaves. They cheat, they are petulant, and they are incapable of respecting anyone else. All because they have won a few trophies in the last few years. It seems that they actually do not know how to win, and have lost their heads as a result of their success.

    Never again will I respect any of their achievements. Even their football is tainted by the way they dive about and wave imaginary cards. I maintain that their football, brilliant as it is, would not succeed in England, as it relies heavily on referees extending them protection beyond not just what we see in England, but beyond the conventions of refereeing all over the world, and also would require levels of stamina that they do not possess.

    Their reaction despite winning shows their utter desperation to hide the fact that we had them beat. We should derive confidence from this rather then let the b******* of the world get to us.

  • Interesting dissection.

    The whole thing is ifs and what not really, and on fairly big moments.

    The Barca penalty that wasn’t.
    The Barca red card that wasn’t.
    The Arsenal red that wasn’t (and then happened later).
    The penalty that wasn’t retaken.

    And this is one of the most used refs still active in the game at the moment. Painful.

  • Shard


    You have also missed the fact that Messi got away with a handball without a yellow card, and then he too kicked the ball after he was offside. Which further proves that there was one rule for Arsenal and another for the B*****ds

  • Shard


    Chelsea to win the Champions League before us?? You can’t want that.

  • Mikkel

    Good to know you are on top of it. Arsenalist has put up a video of it

    Hopefully that will help you, but the editing makes the clip chaotic.
    Keep up the good work.

  • va cong

    I think fabregas back pass was on purpose to get back at wenger for makinh him stay, nice little smile from him when they scored, and the shock on his face and no celebration when barcelona scored an own goal! what about the neck grab from mashedfacerarno on nasri the referee was right there?!?!? so much diving by barceolona players, and so many yellow cards for them?!
    I think landsbury ramsey would have done better than fab and diaby, hell take off persie for chammy to hold the ball up waste time if he wanted to defend. oh well shit happens and then the barcelona team get blown up by ETA by accident.

  • Shard


    Can we not address a letter to UEFA and send them these pictures as evidence? I know they will in all probability not even acknowledge us. But if more and more people do that at least they will know that we are aware of their being corrupt.

    I just went to the UEFA site, and they do not list any e-mail address to contact them at.


    This highlights an interesting point to during the fracas, I had failed to see any other pics but the Abidal thing but had heard others had been involved.

    3 different players grabbing the other team by the throat and not even a caution to any of them.
    It’s ridiculous. I’m not sour grapes that we lost, I just find it shocking that having that many officials in the game it was still not possible to see any of the grabbing go on.

    And if they did see it why didn’t they raise it with the ref? They can all communicate with each other.

    I wish there were robots.

  • Evil

    I have to say that I am disappointed that Cesc did not go to the ref. He is usually VERY talkative, to a point where I am afraid that he is on a borderline yellow card if he keeps pestering the ref like this, but in that match? Nothing. Even after Valdes ellbowed him to the face during a corner he did not do much more than raise his arms in disbelief. I really would have wanted him to have a word with Bussaca, that useless git.

  • marcus

    Seriously Shard,

    I am fed up of the knee-scraping, and worse

    When Arsenal pass a team to death we are pretty ornaments on the sideboard of life

    When Barca do it, we get everyone eulogizing the greatest team of all time.

    Excuse me…..this is a team that is fatally flawed. Defensively they are suspect…I would say poor even.

    To talk about the greatest team ever is just absurdity, pure and simple.

    Having heard all their rhetoric, blah-blahing on about how great they are, and seen all their diving and cheating, and I compare it to the truly great teams:

    Holland 88
    Milan 89-95
    Ajax 70’s
    Liverpool 80’s

    I am just pissed off and disgruntled.

    Yes. I would prefer Chelsea to win it.

  • Shard

    I would want Shaktar to win.. With Eduardo to score a hat trick and then ask Xavi about his F-ing DNA

  • Shard


    That’s a good point regarding talking to the ref. I would also have liked to have seen him stand up for Robin and Nasri more, when they were being manhandled. I’m not slagging him off here. Just not willing to give even him a free ride.

  • Shard

    Also, after giving the ball away with the backheel, Cesc should have just taken Iniesta out and taken a yellow card. He has apologised, though not specifically for that incident, but it really incensed me at the time.

  • DeeDee

    Here’s some more grabbing

    And more:

    I think that at least one of those three (Abidal, Valdes, Maxvel) deserved a red card. Irony is that if this decision was taken right, I don’t think that Robin would have slapped Alves. And for me this was the decision that changed the game. I’m not quite sure, but I think that this happened before Barca scored.

  • gooner80

    Quite a few accusations are being thrown at cesc, I dont need to defend him, he was injured early on in that match and was trying to be the rallying leader, anyone suggesting cesc threw that game is out of order, no way in hell he could have known that back heel would lead to a goal, if he did then Wow

    JUST HEARD 6 match officials have been charged by UEFA for match fixing internationals between Bulgaria and someone else, they are facing disciplinary procedures

  • Walter – Thanks for another comprehensive report. There are suggestions today that Busacca is being lined up for the final.

  • walter

    Yes Paul, Barcelona must win it. That looks a certainty.

  • Nikko

    Remember it is the snood that is forbidden, not the neck grab:

  • Nikko

    Found this on the subreddit…

  • marcus

    I think if a Uk club met Barca and this jerk referees, I mean, oversees a Barc win in the same way he did us, there will be a riot.

    Then English clubs will be thrown out of Europe for 8 years….

    I smell a bloated rat.

  • Andrew

    I know I’m making a rod for my back here but, as a neutral watching the game you were played off the park before and after the sending off.

    Just before half time you had them (and the crowd) becoming increasingly frustrated culminating in the bust up with Wilshire et al. On the tv you saw Wenger telling his players to calm down so the game restarts and van Persie smacks someone in the mouth and gets booked ( the incident in the second half when he was the only player all night not to hear the whistle wouldnt have mattered if he had some self control). For the record I thought the sending off was very harsh given the multiball system was operating but he gave it.

    In all the castigation of the referee in the comments above no one (Walter excluded) has referenced the blatant Barcelona penalty he somehow did not give at 0-0 when only about 10 yards away whih hardly smacks of someone with an agenda to put Barcelona through!

    The I newspaper here in the UK this morning has some stats on the game:

    Outpassed 790 to 214 (attempted passes was 891 to 307)

    Penalty area touches 47 to 2

    First team to fail to attem

    The I newspaper this morning has some

  • Andrew

    Sorry that posted earlier than it should (bloody iPhone!)

    Last one was

    First team to fail to attempt a shot on goal in a game in the champions league, Europa league and the top five European domestic leagues this season.

    So, notwithstanding what AW thinks, this was not unlucky or disgusting or anything else. Just think if he hadn’t the sending off to rail at he might have had to justify his team being so comprehensively outplayed and his selections or tactics.

    Look I admire the way arsenal play but the other night you got a glimpse of what it’s like for a lot of teams like wolves and the like to go to the Emirates – you were passed to death when it was 11 vs 11 and the game plan mentioned on the uk commentary of arsenals superior fitness giving you a chance in the last 15 would be a pretty desperate gamble if true and the kind of tactics that normally AW bemoans when teams dare to try and defend at the emirates.

  • SgtGunnerWil

    These are things which make me wish some of these matches should be played in my home city Kampala. There is certainly no way such refs would survive mob lynching with such a biased performance. It makes me wish i was a footballer as useless to the team in my absence like say Denilson. I would certainly punch up some refs. That would get me a ban, but the other refs would think twice before being that biased. These things get me so incensed! To think that a ref can let 5 other players get away without even a warning or yellow card for offenses much less than those that get one player off the field?!!

  • SgtGunnerWil

    These are things which make me wish some of these matches should be played in my home city Kampala. There is certainly no way such refs would survive mob lynching with such a biased performance. It makes me wish i was a footballer as useless to the team in my absence like say Denilson. I would certainly punch up some refs. That would get me a ban, but the other refs would think twice before being that biased. These things get me so incensed! To think that a ref can let 5 other players get away without even a warning or yellow card for offenses much worse than those that get one player off the field?!!

  • marcus

    I am not sure what your point is Andrew.

    We regularly play teams off the park, so if that is your definition of success, why does the British Media
    spend its time criticizing Arsenal.

    ultimately playing people off the park is not the definition of success.

    Success in football is defined by ball going between posts.

    At the time of VP’s sending off we were winning 3-2. Go figure.

    No shots on goal? Therefore Barca scored a free goal for us. That tells you how weak they are defensively, which is every reason to believe we could, as in the first leg, attack in the last 30 minutes after they had punched themselves out, as in the first leg.

    your points are not invalid, they have some weight, but your conclusions are false.

    Had VP been on the field and not Bendy, he may well of scored in the last minute, and put us through. go figure.

    Re Van Perise’s ‘lack of self-control’. Yes you are making a rod for your own back. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    His supposed lack of self control…caused by being throttled with impunity by the opposition, has nothing to do with the referee falsifying the result of the game.

  • marcus

    Re the penalty. Some say neither penalties were penalties, but I think they both were.

    Therefore at 53 minutes it would have been 2-1 to barca. I.e. ALL square.

    1 goal from us and they need 2.

    But if you want to debate the refereeing…why was he regularly brandishing yellows at us?

    Kosniesky got a yellow because somebody ran in to him and flopped to the ground.

    So, if you evalute the refereeing holistically, then there were many issues besides the non Messi penalty.

    Don’t forget that before we scored, 1-0 to Barca would be job done.

  • Shard


    In case I was one of those you felt was throwing an accusation at Cesc, let me clarify. I love Cesc, and want him to see out his career with us. I’m not ‘attacking’ him. I just think he had a very poor game, and that backheel was the worst possible thing to attempt, especially at that moment. I feel he let his teammates down then. And I was actually suprised he didn’t just kick out at Iniesta once the ball had been lost. Also, as I said, I would have preferred to see him be a little more aggressive in his stance towards Barca when they were being C****. Whether he was affected by his injury (in which case he should have come off) or he didn’t want to piss off the Barca crowd (which would be unacceptable), I don’t know. I just thought his performance, and his body language wasn’t good enough.

    Any accusation of throwing the match isn’t even worth responding to.

  • Andrew


    My point was that the team was picked to go out and seek to frustrate Barcelona (given how suspect their back four is you’d have thought attacking might have been worth a go!) starting with van Persie and Chamakh say.

    The team was intended to frustrate – it was doing so and the crowd were less than happy after 40 minutes with the way the game was going and the failure of the referee to give them a cast iron penalty for the foul on Messi. The frustration bubbled over and Barcelona were getting rattled all rvp had to do was keep to the plan but he didn’t and the end result ultimately was he was sent off.

    Perhaps this is the real issue with the arsenal team and the players you have – you can play some breathtaking stuff but in games where you have to tough it out or play in a less exuberant way you get found out when the opposition had a bit more quality or nous.

    As a neutral though, while I thought the ref didn’t have a great game I can’t see how he was as biased as some on here seem to think! As I say though it’s an easy target especially when your manager stats the ball rolling (suppose as a neutral I should be glad it was an incident involving one of his players he managed to see as usually his defend my players actions at all costs is just embarrassing!).

    One other thing you must consume other UK media to me if you think there is an anti – Arsenal bias to it – try being a fan of another team, let’s say you go to Stamford bridge and win 3-0 and then read the papers solely about how poor Chelsea were).

  • Richard

    A sad day for football indeed. I still can’t believe Barca needed the help of the Ref to go through. These decisions have gone against us on too many occasions. Seems the REF realized we were not the darlings of the Premier league and so felt he could get rid of us. After all we do get the same dodgy decisions in EPL. How do we complain when only a few Arsenal fans believed we could have won on the night. Hence the reason everyone is publishing the stats.

    We approached the second half in a different manner and were out to pressure them.

    It would be nice to compile a video of these dodgy decisions that have been used over the years to decide games. Now I understand how Chelsea fans felt a few seasons ago when they were robbed against Barca.

  • Shard


    Marcus has responded to your points in a more coherent manner than I would be able to muster at this point. All I know is that at 1-1, I felt that game was ours.. Actually, I KNEW that game was ours. Not just the tie, but the game.

    I know that means nothing to anyone else, but I’m sure you would have had times as a supporter where you can just sense something before it happens. It happens to me many times and I know it happens to other friends of mine. So I feel, (wrongly you could argue), that we were denied a victory as a result of that sending off.

    For the rest, feeling so strongly as I do, I wouldn’t be able to contribute much to any debate, beyond saying that stats don’t mean anything (who hears that more in England than Arsenal), and that Barcelona, from top to bottom, are a club filled with A**holes.

  • Shard


    The headlines in that case, frustrating as they are, are easy to see the reason for. The big clubs are the money spinners, and hence sell more papers. I struggle to see as simple a reason for the bias against Arsenal. see where you’re coming from, but it’s not a direct parallel.

    Also, just as conjecture. If I were an experienced ref and wanted to give one team a definite advantage (especially when the said team were superior in any case), how difficult would it be for me to not give one high profile incident their way, and give everything else the other? I know how the media works, and I know how the neutrals minds would work (the same way that you don’t see bias) so isn’t that the best strategy for me?

    On the other hand. If I were an experienced referee and completely honest. Would I not AT LEAST caution a player who grabs the opponents throat right in front of me? And would I not demand that the other FIVE officials help me if I do miss such an incident?

  • Shard

    @ Andrew

    The timing of the sending off was also suspicious. As you say (or someone else mentioned), he probably could have sent him off earlier if he was INTENT on doing so. I would argue he was intent on keeping as low a profile as possible. (Which is why I felt he was just a bottler when he didn’t give Messi the penalty and didn’t send off Abidal, when I first watched the game) That’s what makes his decision to send off Van Persie even more out of character with his performance in this game. That it came at a time when Arsenal had again moved ahead in the tie and probably were feeling rejuvenated. as i said, makes it suspicious.

    LOL, After saying I won’t be able to debate, I’ve rattled off so much.

  • gooner80


    Yes I agree it was cesc’ worse performance in a long time, I am not having a go at anyone in particular someone in the comments was suggesting cesc threw the game though. I believe he was under unbelievable pressure and a conflict of interests arose. Im not happy with cesc they we he treated Deni about the mistake for the penalty he gave away to leeds and the same with Fabianski against Porto and their “school boy errors” makes me annoyed at cesc, the fact is the defence goal keeper and jack were carrying too many passengers in that game and cesc was a passenger.

    I hvae moved on from this game and as i have mmentioned in my post match comments there is two clear reasons why aresenal have been trophy less for so long

    1) injuries to key players
    2) silly mistakes

    the mistakes are happening too frequent to ignore them and i suspect this is why our mentality is questioned in the last 4 years against one team birmingham it has cost us the league (eduardo season), the carling cup (this season) and until alumunia let that late goal in we were in contention for the league the last season, the so called pundits have brushed this off as it is the defence and goal keeper but it is just silly silly ERRORS which at the highest level you cant make as often as we are, we have reduced injuries a little this season and to a point we have done much better than last year but the errors are still there hence why we are out of competitions and I KNOW there is BIAS but we have thrown away points/ competitions because of our OWN errors and that is what we need to improve on IMO

  • Gennie

    @ Andrew, You are a joke, right! Which penalty are you talking about? Who was involved? Read Walter’s report carefullly, do not just rush to criticise because it pleases you. Walter has it on heavy bolded black ink. Minutes 33, Diaby clattered Messi. He (Walter) says, the ref did not give it, but it was a foul and a definite penalty! But if you watched the game properly, probably the ref was correct, Messi would not have reached the ball as Fabregas or was it Wilshere? was on to the ball already!

  • Shard


    It’s sort of like a vicious circle. Of course we have dropped points because of our own deficiencies and stupid mistakes. (just remembered Diaby’s header at Old Trafford). But in a sense, the bias contributes to those errors. (Like Newcastle).. But the longer we don’t win, the bias just becomes reinforced as ‘fact’, thereby increasing the pressure on us, and mistakes by us, even more. But of course, all we can affect is our performance, and we should look to cut out such errors, which as you said, make all the difference in high level sport.

  • Richard


    Have you ever read anything negative about Gallas lately? Since he went to Spurs, he has suddenly become colossal defender with the media lining up to hail Harry for nicking him from Arsenal.

    I recall when he was at Arsenal, his name was never mentioned without reference his lack of leadership skills regarding the episode at Birmingham. They kept hounding him

    I am just saying…

  • gooner80


    EXACTLY we cant do anything about the system of REFs and bias but our own performance is vital and when the team does overcome even the most obvious of BIAS and we make a mistake like a back heel/ header etc it has cost us cups and titles

  • Shard


    I think the players are aware of that too. That they have to up their level, not just because of, but especially so, in the face of such adversity,

    However, I also feel we as fans, have to make an effort to expose what is happening in the game these days. It is not only Arsenal who are the victims, and we should try and spread the net a bit wider. But I am convinced that there is corruption in the game, and not just a one off in some international game that FIFA are ‘investigating’

  • marcus

    Media bias Andrew?

    Well,here is the coverage of the Flamini – Corluka tackle:

    and all i hear about the Carragher/Nani tackle is that it was a ‘horror tackle’

    The Sky pundits go absolutely apoplectic over that tackle on Corluka, and the media has had a feeding frenzy over the Caragher ‘horror tackle’.

    I am afraid we here at Arsenal do feel very persecuted.
    When Ramsey had his leg broken, 95% of the voices in football
    seemed to brush it off as a fair if slightly robust challenge.

    When Eduardo had his leg snapped all we heard about was how Taylor is the salt of the earth, wouldn’t hurt a fly type of guy.

    Week in week out Arsenal get routinely roughed up, and the referees do f-all.

    Walter documents what we see with our own eyes: one law for Arsenal , one law for other teams.

    It is kind of boring really Andrew. The last thing I want to talk about is the reffing.

    But for whatever reason there is a huge bias against Arsenal, in the Media and on the pitch.

    When Arsenal complained about Shawcross he was depicted as some kind of curmudgeonly bad sport….questionoing the sporting integrity of a good horny-handed son of the soil…

    Now he gets pissed off when a referee arbitrarily sends a guy off for no apparent reasonable reason, and the media spins it as Wenger having deep flaws (Guardian), and the team is a team of bottlers.

    This is all complete shit.

    I am not a crazy supporter…I support Arsenal becuase they play great football. (In fact I support Arsenal in spite of hating them all my life.) But that support is not irrational. I don’t lose the will to live if Arsenal lose a match. I just enjoy watching a great football team. I am not filled with some displaced persecution complex, or paranoia…

    I just see what I see, what a lot of other Arsenal fans see, and what many outside the red and white see…

    A systematic attitude of negativity, prejudice and a form of institutional bullying against Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.

    I actually find it very disturbing….it is as if all the people who want to join the National Front, but don’t want to be stigmatized as racists, have channelled their loathings into an ‘acceptable’ foreign hate figure, namely arsene Wenger.

    Maybe that is a bit over dramatic, but there is a really coarse and unpleasant form of sniping and bullying that Wenger comes up against.

    And it is also visited on the team. Sagna stamped by Bowyer, Diaby scythed in half regularly, Van Persie punched at Sheffield, etc etc etc etc ect..

    all these offences are ignored by the footballing establishment. WHY?


    They are serious offences. Serious foul play….

    not to mention all the countless games involving rotational fouling, one eyed refereeing…etc etc

    Sorry, but Football is in a sorry state, and if football reflects the National State, we are in an equally sorry state.

  • Shard

    Regarding the Flamini tackle… Redknapp was allowed to say it was 2-3 feet above the ground… It was a very bad challenge and worthy of a red, no question. It was studs up. But it was along the ground pretty much, and he didn’t catch anything but the ball.

    Now would Wenger and Arsenal be allowed to say such a thing? NEVER. It wouldn’t even be considered as much of a bad tackle at all. That isn’t paranoia, that is based on past experience. And look at Dan Smith’s tackle on Diaby (assault more like). That was easily the worst of the bunch. But it being the first, there wasn’t such uproar from Arsenal fans even when the media didn’t condemn it. We aren’t paranoid. It is, as Marcus says, what we see. And no, that isn’t what I want to see. Not one bit. I want to be able to whole heartedly condemn my team for losing a game. But I cannot because of what I see.

  • GunnerfanUSA

    I know UEFA doesn’t have an email address, but they do have a mailing address listed:


    Route de Genève 46
    Case postale
    CH-1260 Nyon 2

    Tel: +41 (0) 848 00 2727
    Fax: +41 (0) 848 01 2727

    Media desk
    Tel: +41 (0) 848 04 2727

    UEFA Events SA
    Route de Genève 46
    CH-1260 Nyon 2

    Tel: +41 (0) 848 00 2727
    Fax: +41 (0) 848 01 2727

    Maybe if enough people send in this ref review with the pics of Barcelona snoods by 3 Barcelona players (especially the one on Nasri right in front of the ref) something will actually get done and lower the sanctions on Wenger and Nasri!

  • RedGooner

    Walter I really dont get it, offside becoming a sending off offence in the case of RVP with 1 second between the whistle and the shot.

    Shame Messi wasn’t sent off in the first leg when he put the ball in the net after being flagged offside.

    Its either black and white or its not…….

  • marcus

    The Media has become a sort of parody of itself in recent years.

    The monolithic domination of the airwaves by Sky, coupled with the sweeping away of Fleet Street by the tide of Web 2 has created a swirling vortex of nonsense.

    Sky pundits say more or less what they want when they went how they want, as any monopoly can and does, whilst the media thrash about in their death throes spawning increasingly fantastical hyperventilating oxygen starved delusions.

    Here is Richard Williams of the Guardian:

    Arsène Wenger’s sense of injustice veils deep-lying Arsenal issues

    The Arsenal manager must arrest the sudden disintegration of a side that until very recently looked like fulfilling the potential he has so insistently claimed on their behalf

    So, he claims amongst other things that:

    Wenger’s frustration with the refereeing is a veil for deeper problems….
    and that

    Arsenal are “suddenly disintegrating”

    You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.

    This is just total fantasy. Random nonsense to recusitate a dying medium.

    The only paper I bother to read these days is the Daily Mail….and I never thought I’d find myself saying that.

    Martin Samuel seems a decent sort of bloke.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I suppose the best way to deal with this is make a whole load of money – Barca are 11/8 to win the CL with some bookies. After that ref performance,especially if he does the final we all know what is coming – these odds look gererous to me…easy money
    Arsenal are well out of this farce this year. Staying in this bent tournament could have cost injuries and God knows what else at a vital stage.
    Just as well we can fight on in the EPL and FA Cup knowing nothing bent will be going on there!

  • Shard

    Lol @ mandy dodd

  • Andrei

    @Walter In the RVP sending off incident you can only assess if it was a bookable offence. You said it yourself that it was bookable according to the strict rules. Whether the offense was bad enough to actually show the yellow card is unfortunately a judgement call. Or common sense call as you put it but common sense is pretty much defined by on which side you are. So by labeling it as incorrect call you are speaking as a fan not a referee. As much as I dislike the call the referee was in his right to call it. Now you may complain about inconsistency but it may lead into “consistency trap”. E.g. they referee missed a penalty call against Arsenal in the first half. Should he later ignore a legitimate penalty call (not there was such a call this for argument sake) against Barcelona to be consistent? Also, you deducted points for showing red card. Actually, it was correct call – by issuing a second yellow card (rightfully or not) he had to show red card. To me you are “double punishing” the referee.

    Anyway, though I still think that it was a harsh call RVP is not innocent here. He did know that the flag was up based on how he blasted the ball into the stands in frustration. I’m afraid that the frustration got better of RVP in this game. It is rather unfortunate – I expected better from a veteran player (by Arsenal standards) like RVP. This was the game that required grit and composure. You are being outplayed but still ahead in the game. You should keep your cool. You should frustrate Barca instead of getting frustrated yourself.

    I think this complaining about the referee and looking for excuses is getting a bit out of hand. It is reminiscent of United fans claiming that had Carragher been rightfully sent off on Sunday United would have come back in the second half and beaten Liverpool. We fans can indulge this kind of behavior. But I hope this not the attitude in the Arsenal’s locker room and AW is having a serious conversation with the players about what went wrong and where to go from there.

  • Shard


    RVP did not ‘blast the ball into the stands’.. It hit the boards behind the goal and rebounded pretty much to the keeper.

    For the other point, on an entirely cold, calculating, logical basis, you are right as to the way Walter has judged that call. Does that show Walter’s bias for Arsenal. Perhaps (though I would suggest it just shows that robots cannot take over a human function). But to point that out, while essentially ridiculing the notion that the actual ref on the field exhibited bias, isn’t logical at all.

  • GunnerfanUSA

    1) Andrei, RVP didn’t blast it into the stands, he hit at goal a second after the whistle, watch the video –

    He was continuing in motion and was looking at the ball the whole time!

    2) As for the missed penalty against Arsenal agreed, but how about the missed red cards for Barca snoods on RVP and Nasri at the end of the first half:

    That’s 3 automatic reds on Barca – Adriano, Abidal, and Valdes
    One right in front of the ref!

    Maybe if the ref actually did his job RVP would not have been upset to get that first yellow and Arsenal would have had the appropriate advantage in the 2nd half!

  • Shard

    Also, Andrei.. The law itself isn’t just what it states. Jurisprudence requires law to be followed in both letter AND spirit. So while you say that the referee was in his right to call it, my contention would be, that he failed in his role as an independent arbiter of the game, and in his responsibility towards the game, because he did NOT apply the law in the correct spirit.

  • Wembley79

    However you paint it, a ref must be consistent with his decisions in the same match at the very least. He (or his assistants) must have seen Messi kick the ball away after being flagged offsied – why no booking?

    As the pictures show, the ref witnessed, from within 2 metres, a Barcelona player grabbing an opposing player around the throat – this must be punished, as it was for Van Persies’ foul which earned him his first yellow.

    So, one player commits two offences, but the same (or worse) offences are unpunished for the opposition.

    There is a quote in the English language :

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

  • Andrei

    @Shard I’m not ridiculing the notion the ref was biased. He _was_ biased for whatever reason and he gave plenty of evidence for that. More importantly RVP knew the ref was biased yet he put himself in position to be sent off. For a player of his caliber and experience this is unacceptable. What is also unacceptable his post-game reaction. He should have followed Cesc’s example of a true leader and admitted that he let the team down. As for letter and spirit of law that is why as you may know there are “friendly” judges and “not-so-friendly” ones.

    I’m disappointed that because of this RVP incident there is no constructive discussion about the team performance on Tuesday. I believe that except for some individual performances Arsenal didn’t play particularly well. Too many give aways, too tentative in midfield and inept in front even before RVP was sent off. If the plan was to play for a draw and score an opportunistic goal the execution was far from perfect. If you play for a draw you don’t have a luxury of committing silly mistakes or getting frustrated. As for opportunistic goal yes we scored on Barca’s own goal but it is the opportunity that Bendtner missed that counts the most.

  • Shard


    I do not understand the ire towards Robin. It’s obviously not the ideal reaction, but Robin isn’t the type to take things lying down and that for the better or worse makes him who he is. If it were Rooney who did that we’d hear of his passion and willingness to stand up for himself. RVP was grabbed by the throat, and he was pissed off. So he pushed Alves. He shouldn’t have. He got booked. But that wasn’t what changed the game.

    What changed the game (apart from not giving Abidal, and Adriano red cards) was the Red card to Van Persie. You can argue it’s the right call, but it just quite simply, categorically wasn’t. Common sense that you mentioned before isn’t just a biased view. In legal sense it would be the intention of the law, not just what it empowers an executive to do. The law has to be applied CORRECTLY for justice to be served. You yourself say you disliked the call. Why? Because it isn’t right.

  • Shard


    I agree that it was Bendtner’s missed chance that was one of the keys. We would be through. Not that that would change the tone from Barca or the media one bit. Instead of us crying foul and ‘whining’, it would have been them, except that they would be deemed to be fighting the good fight against us, the cheats.

  • Shard

    I missed the bit about friendly and unfriendly judges. Of course that is there, and upholding court room procedures as an absolute indication of justice being served isn’t ideal anyway. But once you go down the road you suggest of making allowances for referees bias then we can never win. How can a team legislate for a referee that will bend, or interpret the rules whichever way it is required DURING a match?

    Each match has a certain pattern of refereeing which is established early according to what tackles he allows and what he gives a card for etc. But in this case, I maintain that the second yellow given to Robin was utterly out of character with the rest of the refereeing performance that night.(in terms of reluctance to make big decisions) And that, combined with its timing, to me is very suspicious.

  • Andrew


    “…do not just rush to criticise because it pleases you.!

    Well if nothing else the, presumably unintentional, irony of this post here in the comments section of this blog made me laugh out loud on the train home tonight!

  • Andrew


    I have a couple of questions about how you do this if you don’t mind…

    I am assuming you watch this on online in most cases and therefore have access to the full game and figure you watch it twice, once as a fan and then again with a notebook to evaluate the referee. I know the purpose of the blog is to see how the referee applies the laws of the game (and then conclude he’s biased – joking!) but in assessing whether he got it “right” I was wondering…

    In making your assessment of the referee’s decision making do you only go on your first reaction on seeing it or if you have the benefit of replays do they somethimes change your assessement. If this does occur should the referee get the benefit of the doubt given he saw it once with no support or alternative angles?

    For some decisions the referee’s location on the pitch may not allow him to see what the camera does, again does this factor into your assessment?

    Finally – if a linesman calls an offside wrong why does the referee get the poor mark and assessment given he went on the advice of his colleague who was, hopefully, better positioned to make the call?

    It’s just soemthing I’ve pondered on for the last few days since the last flurry of communication we had! Oh and for what worth I agree with my Russian namesake Andrei that the assessment of the RVP second booking should only be of whetehr it was a bookable offence ratehr than anything else.

  • Andrew


    All I know is that at 1-1, I felt that game was ours.. Actually, I KNEW that game was ours. Not just the tie, but the game.

    I know that means nothing to anyone else, but I’m sure you would have had times as a supporter where you can just sense something before it happens.

    I know what you mean but having had a season ticket through Sunderland’s 19 and 15 point seasons usually when I get such a belief in the result it’s of the “we’re gonna lose” type than the more positive one you have!

    One other thing – the Dan Smith tackle you reference – I was there that day, didn’t defend it then and was disappointed our then manager (not shy in the tackle himself!) didn’t just come out and say so (even if it had been more of the “we’ll deal with it internally”). Wouldn’t try and defend it now!

  • Shard


    I know what you mean but having had a season ticket through Sunderland’s 19 and 15 point seasons usually when I get such a belief in the result it’s of the “we’re gonna lose” type than the more positive one you have!

    Dude, I’m sorry, but I had to laugh at that. Not at your misery obviously, just the matter of fact way you said it. It’s true that often we forget how good we have it as fans of Arsenal, even though I’m not one of the ‘Doom and Gloomers’. Cheers mate, and good luck with your team getting more success.(though please not against us again)

    A huge thumbs up to you for not defending that tackle. For a second I thought you were going to try and argue that. And I don’t know if it was just that there wasn’t a media storm over it, but I somehow don’t immediately associate Dan Smith with Sunderland. Perhaps it’s also that your team has changed quite a bit since then. Anyway, it’s good to have a discussion with a fan of another team. Expand horizons, get some perspective and all that… Cheers

  • Johnny Deigh

    People criticise us for lack of possession or shots on goal, but you can see from Walter’s review that in the first half, they were allowed to foul us deep in our half with almost impunity. On the other hand almost every foul committed by us was called.
    And even though they completely dominated possession, they still only managed 2 shots on goal in the first half.
    In the second half, we got the equaliser, we were looking sharper, and more dangerous. RVP’s sending off appeared to be a calculated response to the change in tides and Busacca didn’t seem to want any of it. Of couse any side would struggle to create chances being down to ten men, yet we still almost went through when Bendtner was through on goal with just a few minutes left in regulation time.
    To say that the better team won is just ludicrous – absolutely ludicrous.

  • FinnGooner

    If ref makes 1 very strickt call to give 2nd yellow but other times in match is not stickt at all it is wrong. If you make strict calls it’s whole match and both teams or not.

    Also I remember when I was learning to drive being told that if you see something before you react to that 1 second has past. Don’t blame RvP at all.

    What has started to annoy me tho is that TV director. He zoomed to Cesc calming angry RvP (making innocent TV viewer see Arsenal player losing his temper) instead of Valdes grabbing Nasri’s throath (World should not see Good and nice Barca behaving violently). I mean even I thought at that moment that RvP should calm down and it was moments and day later I realized what was really going on. Moments was for that earlier RvP had been choked and day that Nasri was being choked at that time (when I am angier about it I call is “trying to kill”).

  • mo

    i have replayed the penalty for many times and stopped at the moment messi shoot, and i find out the following
    there was no one in the penalty area except the ref, messi and almunia before messi took the shoot. just after the moment messi kicks the ball, villa and the other 2 barca players run to messi and congrats him

    you can check the online playbacks, there are plenty of sources

  • WalterBroeckx

    I have added a picture to the article so you can see it for your self. I put a circle around the 3 players who are inside the penalty area and this is even before the kick has been taken.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Mo, notice that the frame is when Messi still has his leg behind before he takes the shot.
    It is just because the ref wanted to dot the i with the second yellow against Van Persie that I took the liberty of doing this also.