The Porto free kick. The referee’s point of view.

By Walter Broeckx

Another Champions league game … and another controversial game by the ref.

I will not start over the not giving penalty for Arsenal for a blatant foul on Rosicky just before THE incident that over shadowed the game.

But I just did. Well we don’t get penalty’s this season from refs and this is getting a bit annoying I think. If the Uefa has decided Arsenal not to give penalty’s any more that they please just say it so everyone knows it and we don’t expect penalty’s given anymore.

So let’s get on to the most important decisions of the game.

The rulebook says:

An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, commits any of the following four offences:

• takes more than six seconds while controlling the ball with his hands before releasing it from his possession

• touches the ball again with his hands after it has been released from his possession and has not touched any other player

• touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate

• touches the ball with his hands after he has received it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate

I put the most important word in bold and underlined it. But this is a decision which is based on how the ref sees it. I think Campbell was trying to shield the ball and it hit his left foot without the intention to kick it. But the ref saw it as deliberate so we cannot do much about it.

But then starts the real mess up from the ref.

Fabianski is holding the ball in his hands to prevent that Porto try to play it quick. But the ref demands the ball from Fabianski and if Fabianski didn’t give the ball to the ref he would have got a yellow card.

Now if a ref takes the ball in his hands it is to place the ball on the right spot and to get everyone at the right distance. This was what all the Arsenal players were expecting. In fact when the Porto player takes the free kick Fabianski is walking back to his goal line with his back to the ball because he anticipated that the ref was going to take things in hand and to put all players in the right position.

But the ref gives the ball to Porto who take it quickly and scores.

Let me quote the rule and the instructions once again ( and I apologize if the English is not totally correct but the instructions from Fifa to refs I have are in Dutch)  :

In cases where a whistle is not required to restart a game, the referee GIVES A SIGNAL with one arm to get the game going. (except for a  goal kick and a throw).

So the ref has to give a signal with his arm to allow the game to restart. The ref does not give a signal. So the game could not be started again. I’ve seen it some 24 times now and nowhere and from no angle there is a sign that he makes to allow the game to restart.

So the next thing from the rule book about:

The Indirect Free Kick


The referee indicates an indirect free kick by raising his arm above his head. He maintains his arm in that position until the kick has been taken and the ball has touched another player or goes out of play.

This means the ref  has got to indicate BEFORE THE FREE KICK IS TAKEN that it is an indirect free kick. The ref only gives this signal when the ball reaches the other player. So again a mistake and a foul from the ref.

To make things worse he obstructesn Sol Campbell who tried to prevent things as he ran in Sol’s way. So he took the defender out. Very bad positioning from the ref.

The ref has made a total mess of this. If he had any common sense he would have blown and had the free kick retaken. But he didn’t and we can all feel very bad about this very poor decision from the ref.

And like 2 seasons ago when the Swedish ref Peter Frojdfeldt send us home after a bad penalty decision against us in Liverpool it is another Swedish ref that hands us defeat and gives Porto a goal on a silver plate.  Do the Swedes have something against The Arsenal ? Or is it instructions from higher places?


(If we had a press, these stories would be hot off it).

Mohammed Bin Hammam, has tabled a motion for the next Fifa big boys meeting, which says that in future no one with seven letters in his name, starting with B and ending with R is allowed into any position of power in FIFA.

Blatter (at whom this is said to be aimed) is standing for an unprecedented 83rd term, under the slogan, “I haven’t alleged anything yet”.   Blatter wants to outdo  João Havelange who was in charge for 176 years and who oversaw the introduction of sheep slaughtering at half time, and the creation of McDonalds as the “restaurant of the world cup”, thus giving a bad name to restaurants everywhere.

Sir Stanley Rous, was in the chair for 196 years, but is not believed to have done anything except ensure that England won the world cup by playing every game at Wembley.

Blatter is allegedly 374 years old, and has the IQ of an alleged shrimp on heat, according to Alleged Corruption Newsletter, the key journal of Fifa.  His great grandmother is allegedly an unemployed painter and decorator with a pathological fear of crustaceans who lives in New York and serves on the FIFA financial committee in between running the Quick and Cheap Cleaning Co

Blatter has allegedly invested much of other people’s personal fortunes (plus the gross national product of South Africa) in the World Cup this year, and will allegedly take all credit and profit if it works well, and blame the Africans for not being able to cope if it goes badly.

Blatter recently ordered the Finance Committee (see above) to pay over to the Nigerian Football Association $30m to cover the total financial disaster that was formally known as the Under-17 World Cup held there in 2009.  (Not “allegedly” in that sentence!!!)  In an exclusive interview with allegedly Untold Arsenal Mr Allegedly blattered us to “stick your head in a pig.”

Untold Arsenal bids for international TV rights for the EPL

Untold has bid 25p for the rights to show EPL games on Albanian TV.   Untold chairman, Sir Tony Attwood said, “Our finance committee in New York, under the guidance of Quick and Cheap Cleaning Co has offered this substantial bid for the rights to show the game in South Georgia.   As South Georgia has no population and no one other than Norman Wisdom has ever come back from Albania in one piece we think that is fair and generous.  Sepp Blatter is allegedly said to be against the deal on the grounds that his personal commission is not high enough.   His mother is allegedly said to be on the way to Untold Towers.

There’s info about the Making the Arsenal book on

There’s more on Arsenal at

65 Replies to “The Porto free kick. The referee’s point of view.”

  1. Well, Well, Well. Walter – that is certainly a catalog of mistakes by the ref. I wondered how many in the tabloid press and “well-endowed” gooners are going to challenge your analysis. Of course it is easier to scapegoat Fabianski for goal #2 and to rip the team to pieces.

  2. This morning I got a telephone call from a fellow gooner over here who also has been a ref for several years. He still couldn’t believe what he had seen.

    We agreed that if we would allow a goal like that in our matches the result would be:
    1) Be sure to have your mobile phone with you on the field
    2) Run for your life to the dressing room
    3) While running to the dressing room call the police with your mobile
    4) Once in the dressing room make sure no one can enter it
    5) if you are religious start praying and hope that the police can arrive quick

    Now this might be slightly exaggerated but you just don’t act like that as a ref.

  3. What’s funny is that if you read Poll’s article closely, he doesn’t make any argument and completely avoids citing the rulebook with phrases like “In the spirit of the law…” in the 3rd person.

    Then there are the pretty pictures, which say nothing about the rules, but are there to make it seem like Poll is authoritative.

    What a joke.

    Walter, thank you again. Thanks for making an argument about how a capable, morally-upright referee should have acted.

  4. Um the comments on Graham Poll’s article have been disabled?! Maybe if he knew the rules he wouldnt get so much grief. How can he be a professional? No mention of the ref not even signalling for the freekick to go ahead until it had already been taken? Very poor

  5. Tim – wow, that article is disgusting.

    “how many times did we see Thierry Henry take a quick free-kick during his Arsenal days under Arsene Wenger?”
    The answer is a few, but henry also had a few *disallowed* because the ref hadn’t given us permission to take it early.
    Selective memory I think.

    I dont know why people are attacking fabianski so much over the 2nd goal. His only mistake (if you can call it that) was throwing the ball to the ref too quickly. I agree with the commentary I saw on the game (I think from andy townsend) that he should have held onto the ball and taken a booking if necessary, but sol could have done more to stop the quick FK. The ref was stood between him and the ball, but he could have gone around, he wasn’t holding campbell back or anything. Sol wanted to argue with him about it.
    It’s just annoying that arsenal has to play as though they are going to be screwed by the ref, they have to make sure he wont break the rules in allowing a quick freekick without his permission or signal.

    Also, @Walter – didn’t the ref have his back to the free-kick when it was taken? Surely that’s not right, for all he knew the player moved it before taking the kick.. How he can allow that goal is perplexing to say the least and the way the english media has sided with him is even worse.

  6. Walter,

    I refereed at lower levels in the past. What I was told in referee training is that, once a defending player tries to prevent the free kick from being taken, the referee is obliged to make sure the defending players are at the right distance from the ball.

    I wasn’t clear about this so I went and looked at the laws of the game. Well here’s what I found;

    LAW 13

    Indirect free kick to the attacking team:
    • all opponents are at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is
    in play, unless they are on their own goal line between the goalposts

    So basically the rules do state that in an indirect free kick in the penalty area, ALL our players had to be at the required distance from the ball. Clearly, Fabianski was not.

    What has shocked me the most in this episode is that the kick was taken with the keeper’s back turned. He was talking to Sol Campbell. What serious referee would allow that?

  7. I’d particularly like to give a public thank you to Walter for all his contributions to the site, and this contribution in particular.

    I’m sure will have seen the emails to this site from almost the moment the match finished asking Walter for his analysis – and the moment I got my computer on at work this morning, there it was.

    Excellent analysis, clear, and to the point.

    From every reader of Untold, and from the editorial team (ie me) a million thanks.


  8. Sol Campell is a liabilty and sooner Arsene realises it , it will be better for Arsenal. Despite his goal , I think he made lots of catestrophic errors in the Game and created lot of pressure at the back, The sooner we get rid of him the better.I watched both the games he has played in so far and He just brings more problems then helps at the back in defense.

  9. I’ll tell you why people are ripping Fabianski for the 2nd goal, and that is because by that point his performance had been so undeniably shocking that the defenders in front of him were petrified to do anything because they had no idea whatsoever what he was going to do. Just a few minutes earlier he and Sagna had a close-call which was down to Fabianski’s lack of communication (the ‘keeper is the one coming forward and can see the pitch, therefore he must make the call) and you can see exactly the same thing with Campbell. Sol had no clue whatsoever what Fabianski was going to do. Then he picked the ball up. Stupidity. All he had to do was kick it out for a throw-in. But NOOOOOOOO. He had to pick it up. Then instead of rolling it to one side or another, he just handed it back to the referee.

    I will agree that the ref messed up, but let us not allow that to minimize the shocker that Fabianski had last night. That was one of the most appalling displays of goalkeeping I have seen in a long time. The kid is a decent shot stopper, but he seems to have a brain full of mashed potatoes and just panics completely. That should be the last game he ever plays for Arsenal. And for those thinking that is too extreme, Jim Leighton had a mental shocker for Utd in the early 90’s and Fergie never played him again and it eventually led to them getting Schmeichel.

  10. Paul C. – The ball was rolling back to fabianski, sol touched it by mistake.. Normally when the keeper picks one of those up the ref lets it go because its clearly unintentional. It’s the refs fault for giving the freekick.
    Obviously the 1st goal was a big mistake, and I agree there did seem to be communication problems at times, but fabianski did claim a lot fo crosses well and made a couple of good saves. Id hardly call it a shocking display. For me it is one big mistake, and perhaps displayed his lack of experience, but even then the ref did demand the ball from him. For everyone to jump on him over this is pretty harsh imo. Everyone likes to blame just one or two of the players. It just makes it easier to have a target for their rage it seems.

  11. Davi..surely Fabianskis main mistake & the one that these issues hinge on was picking the ball up??? We can argue that Sol touched the ball unintentionally but surely if in doubt..hoof it!!!

    Having said that the course of action by the ref following the inital infringement was diabolical..what do the rules say about refs making monumental mistakes???

  12. Wilshere’s dad – I can’t really argue, just to say I disagree. Campbell clearly had no intention to pass it, why would he? There was no one close to him.
    Normally the ref lets those go but this guy was probably keen to give the big decision.

    But even though you disagree, it’s still not right to blame fabianski for the goal, as most people have done. The ref is infinitely more culpable than the keeper here.

  13. Firstly i am an Arsenal fan (you’d never have guessed it from my name!!) and i think the goal should never have stood BUT the referee did put his hand in the air to indicate an indirect freekick as soon as Fabianski picked the ball up (on a side note – how the referee saw Campbell’s slight touch from where he was is beyond me).

    I watched the game on RTE in Ireland (i am Irish and i already hate this referee for obvious reasons), they had a wide camera angle that showed the referee put his hand in the air indicating an indirect freekick as soon as the free kick was given, the referee at this stage was near the center circle, he actually ran for about 4/5 yards with his hand in the air. It was when the Porto player tried to take the ball out of Fabianski’s hands and Fabianski refused (rightly) that the referee lowered his hand and ran into the box, it was then that he motioned (with that same hand) to Fabianski to give the ball to the Porto player. When the Porto player passed the ball to Falcao the referee put his hand back up into the air.

    It looked from most replays and camera angles that the referee only put up his hand for the first time after the freekick was taken but i have seen otherwise, the referee did put up his hand twice. That said, the referee in my mind was far too pro-active in what he did, he practically sprinted into the box, demanded the ball off Fabianski, gave it to their player and set their goal up. Fabianski in my mind did no wrong, he would have thought that the referee was going to stand over the ball and let us form a wall etc.

    It is twice as sickening because 60 seconds before all this we had an absolute stone wall penalty turned down. Why Rosicky would go down in that position without being fouled i’d never know and if the referee thought that it wasn’t a foul then why didn’t he book Rosicky for diving? The referee bottled it. The standard of refereeing in my opinion has become very shoddy in the past few years, especially in The Champions League. I really fear that the Eduardo “dive” has come back to bite us. Who remembers Vela being taken down in the box away to Standard Liege in the group stages? Another stone wall penalty not given.

    All in all we can’t blame the referee fully for the loss last night, it was a sub par performance by us and we really shot ourselves in the foot. Twice. The referee should never have given Porto the chance to score that goal by the way he acted but we should never have let that situation arise. It was schoolboy stuff from us at times and it was schoolboy stuff from the referee at the most important time.

    That said i still think we’ll stuff em’ at The Emirates. I’m going to the game against Sunderland at the weekend, i don’t get to go to too many games so i’m fairly excited! 3 points please……..

  14. Thank you for this Walter. Your contributions are special. There was one thing that jarred.

    “The rulebook says:
    An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, commits any of the following four offences:
    • takes more than six seconds while controlling the ball with his hands before releasing it from his possession”

    Can you explain why this rule is uniformly ignored?

  15. Davi – I am not a doom and gloomer by any means. I actually think 2-1 was a decent result, it just could have been better. I think that if Fabianski was in any doubt whatsoever about whether or not Sol touched the ball, then he hoofs it out for a throw-in. No questions asked. He can sort it out with Sol afterwards. That is the first option. If he had come out SCREAMING that it was his ball then Sol would not have been caught in two minds and even if he had unintentionally touched it, the referee would have let it pass. The referee was responding to Fabianski’s uncertainty there, the ref knew Fabianski wasnt communicating with his defenders so he was watching closer than he would otherwise have been for the backpass infraction.

    Even after the infraction, Fabianski should have taken the yellow card to ensure the defense got back in time, and if that meant booting the ball away in fake (or real) disgust at the decision then that is what he should have done. It is the obvious thing to do which, if he didnt have mashed potatoes for brains, he would have done. Even just flipping the ball behind him towards the goal line would have done the job and he probably wouldnt have even gotten booked for that.

    I am not angry at all. Like I said I think 2-1 was a decent result and I think we’ll get through at home. I think the team played pretty well away from home in a tough environment. But Fabianski had a shocker, so much so that the TV crew were praising Fabianski for absolute routine saves. Even when he came for crosses he looked weak and uncertain.

    He just doesnt look like he has it mentally. I have no problems with mistakes, and I am perfectly willing to overlook the 1st goal Fabianski conceded, as those things happen. But the first twenty minutes of the 2nd half Fabianski was all at sea and our defenders picked up on his uncertainty. And then he fell aprt completely for the 2nd goal. You can tell a lot about players how they respond to pressure (for instance Mannone looked calm and comfortable under pressure even if he made “physical” mistakes), and Fabianski fell apart mentally. He had multiple chances to avoid conceding a goal there (not picking the ball up initially, not kicking or throwing the ball away, not standing in front of the ball when the Porto player put it on the ground, not seeing the Porto attacker coming through and sensing what was occuring) and he missed them all. He was the only one of our players that had everything in front of him and he completely and utterly froze in a pressure situation and had brain-lock.

  16. There is another point in that a free kick has to be taken at the place where the offence took place, yet this free kick was taken a number of yardr closser to the goal than where the offence took place, which was just within the goal area.

    How many times have we seen refs tell a player taking a free kick to move the ball back to where the offence took place, yet here, the ref allowed it to be taken no where near the correct place.

    Out in the middle of the pitch that may not matter, but here, so close to the goal, it was crucial.

  17. i think blaming so much on the ref is really short sighted of my fellow arsenal fans. he got our penalty call wrong (yeah, should have done better) but there seems to be an attitude that if we commit a foul as we did, then it is our god given right to have enough time to organise our defense and nullify most of the chance which we were stupid enough to hand them. the ref is entitled to take the ball back from us, it is THEIR free kick and you should blame fabianski for giving him it, not the ref for asking for it. as for his position being in the way of campbell, i think he wasn’t expecting porto to take it so fast, but after they did saw no real reason why it didn’t deserve to be given. all this talk of him blocking campbell is nonsense! when the kick was taken campbell was NOT EVEN LOOKING, he was not going to block it whether the ref was there or not. if we scored an identical goal none of us would complain and we’d blame it on the opponent for bad defending and that’s really all there is to it. god knows how many times henry took quick free kicks or quietly asked the ref if he can take it early without givcing the opponentsd a realistic chance to get prepared in time and he scored several goals that way. we have no right to complain and we should take full responsibility, i’m sick of all this finger pointing at refs every time things don’t go our way.

    if arsenal don’t want to concede goals to quick free kicks when we are not ready for them there are two solutions, don’t give away the stupid free kicks or pay attention and be prepared when we do. we did neither and were rightfully punished. the only majorly bad decision the ref made last night was not giving our penalty, but once again we looked quite impotent up front and so maybe if we were better in and around the opponents’ box we might not have to blame not getting a penalty against an average team for the reason why we didn’t win. it’s ARSENAL’s fault that we lost, not the ref’s. sometimes the way arsenal fans will complain about refs in every game i think they’ve been listening too much to wenger, who as much as i love him, is frankly the most biased and blind manager in world football when it comes to refs. decisions against us are apparently all wrong and decisions for us rarely are, it’s nonsense and any excuse to take blame away from ourselves.

  18. Paul C. – I didnt mean to assume that you were one of those angry fans, I tried to word my previous response so the part about fans jumping on fabianski was aimed more at fans in general. It’s a little hard to do in the comments section sometimes I guess.
    I agree with what you say about fabianski mentally yesterday.
    There have been games where hes looked really up for it, but yesterday I agree he looked a bit low, probably because of the 1st goal he let in. He did make some good saves and catches during the game bu that confidence would have been important for standing up to the ref as u suggested. I dont think hes a lost cause or anything, just young.
    Personally I think our other polish keeper (Szczesny) will take the no.1 spot at some point next season. Hes also been capped already despite being about 5 years younger than fabianski and to me looks a lot more ready for 1st team football than lukasz or mannone. Still the other two will certainly be good keepers.

  19. Ryan,
    I can accept what you say but like you highlight the mistakes of our players and you are entitled to do this it is also my right to anlyse the decisions made by the ref.
    As I am a collegue of him, I know the rules and I know where he has gone wrong. Read all about it above I would say.

    The thing is I really don’t blame him for giving the free kick if he thought it was intentional than it is a free kick. It is our divine ( 😉 )right to make those dicisions.

    Fact is when a player does something wrong the ref can correct them. And when the ref doesn’t do what he should do… then there is only this way of analyzing what he has done wrong.
    As a ref I know how it feels to screw things up. Every ref screws up at times and he who tells you he never does, he’s just a liar or has no memory.

    The best refs are those refs when after the game his name is never mentionned. That means he was mostly spot on with his decisions and didn’t got noticed for any big mistakes. Yesterday the name of the ref was on everyones lips in all Europe and the voices I have seen and heard outside the UK were unanimous : he screwed it up and it was totally unfair the way he gave Porto that second goal.
    He messed up with the rules and instructions from Fifa (like mentionned above) and is not fit to wear the shirt as a ref.

  20. Ryan – unfortunately the facts aren’t on your side here mate, the ref got it wrong.
    I agree he wasnt blocking campbell from stopping the free kick, but you know who else wasnt looking at the ball? The ref! He had no idea wat was going on but allowed the goal to stand anyway.
    I take issue with saying that I would have been pleased if arsenal scored a goal like that. I never enjoyed seeing henry resort to those quick freekicks, but at least they were legal and the ref did his job correctly. The shots were disallowed when the ref hadnt given the signal for henry to take it.
    We have scored fortunate goals, for example the penalty against celtic, and I absolutely agree the ref made a mistake there, and eduardo dived. However we have been beaten by refs many times over the past few years. For example against west ham, first they scored off a free kick where if anything diaby should have got the decision, then a penalty where carlton cole clearly dived.
    It would benefit the club to develop more of a seige mentality against this stuff. Possibly it would be better if wenger would refuse to speak to media as fergie has done. They were clearly baiting him to call the ref inadequate yesterday and all they seem to do is slate us generally.
    Utd do it all the time. They get the benefit of tonnes of big decisions. Their players dont get booked (against us at least) and they win games off penalties for which a forward has dived, and evans completely got away with the worst off-the-ball incident Ive seen in a while, yet following a freekick against them from which chelsea scored (a debateably but hardly outrageous decision) all their players and staff came out in the media saying they’r losing faith in the officials. I lost faith in the officials in our games long ago. I think most fans have too to be honest, they just want out youngsters to be so streetwise as to just accept the refs will screw them and act accordingly -so they attack the youngsters rather than the officials.
    What do u think is better for the club: criticising the inexperienced players for minor shortcomings; or criticising the refs (and media) for placing a major handicap our our ability to win anything by consistently calling the big decisions against us?

  21. Great read Walter. Good to see the rules laid out, confirmed a lot of what I thought in the aftermath.

    On another day, we get a penalty and don’t concede two goals (both freak goals). Factor in home advantage and (hopefully!) certain players returning from injury, we should sweep them aside at home.

  22. We all knw what this keeper is like,i’m just angry about THE BLATANT PENALTY b4 the incident.WTF!
    Payback @ the emirates.

  23. What I can agree on and now I am speeking as Walter the Gooner : if this would have happened to let’s say Chelsea or MIOU the moment the ref would have blown for the free kick he would have been surrounded by 11 players and be shouted. No way that a free kick would be taken in that way after they had surrounded the ref.

    We just seem to much busy doing things right that we hardly protest wrong decisions. As a ref I would say : great and you get full points for your behaviour.
    But as a fan I would say: attack that referee throw your self at him, get yellow cards but don’t let them have the chance of doing like they did.

    If this would be the difference between being more succesful and between losing a game like that, then just do the ugly thing when needed.

    Now I am speaking against my own job(hobby)

  24. Let’s all hope we never have to see this referee again. Porto are still comming to the Emirates. Let’s make sure that we are ready to influence the referee as well as the game on that occassion.

  25. When I saw the second goal it felt like non legal to me. Despite that, in every sport news I’ve heard and read it was legal although strange because the referee doesn’t have to whistle. That fact of having to raise that hand is not tottaly clear to me but even if it’s truth, that “higher commands” talk makes me laugh because normaly the most rich teams are “helped” by the referees. It was the case of many whistles in the first half. When there was a doudbt, the referee decided in favour of Arsenal. Have to admit it was not the case in the 2nd Porto’s goal. Still, Arsenal already took advantage of similir cases in other games. Cumpliments from a Porto fan.

  26. Well done Walter.Nice article.
    After iread this article it convincing me more the referee got it right.Reason is does Fabiansky or Campbell know this rule ?
    Well if they say yes we know it then why not be extra cautious ?
    Facts speak loudly .If Fabiansky is well aware of the law he should not move his eye from the ball.Infact he was looking to the side referee completely ignoring the danger.When it comes to Sol Campbell he was shocked by the decision and he was arguing with the referee .As an experienced player i must say he suppose to be more cautious on this things.I heard him say on sky that the referee block him but that is an excuse for me as he can position himself infront of the ball had been aware of the danger coming.Sol was not aware and the opponent player credit to him was quick thinker and exploited the sloppiness around.Sure the referee was not in a perfect position but to shift the blame all to the referee i don`t think it is fair.Wenger questioned the first action wether it was intentional or not the bacpass and as Walter clarify it i dont think there is much it can be say.

    The bottom line is a young team that is still learning and this time they are learning the hard way Fabiansky is not exeptional is good goalie infact aside the first goal he was brilliant.I will take him anyday.But for Sol there is no excuse he shoul have done more.

  27. Ole you are right about the distance matter. A free kick in the penalty area is not the same as a free kick in the middle of the field. Only those who have no understanding of the game and the rules will ask what is the difference. Well the lines that seperates the different areas of the field make the difference.

    When we learned the rules they gave a lot of attention to this matter and how to act and the ref yesterday made almost all the mistakes they told you could make. So he better go back to the ref’s school before doing another game.

    Cape Gooner, the 6 second rule well… er…. er…. er…. You are right. Why keep this rule if no one follows it or gets punished for it. I mostly when I feel the keeper is gaining to much time give him a verbal warning and tell him the next time I will give a free kick and most of the time this is enough. Must say I don’t have games with 60.000 people screaming and shouting in the stands so I can make myself heard.

  28. jjgsol, you are right about the spot the kick has to be taken. No it doesn’t matter when you are on the halfway line if the ball is a few yards out of position but in the penalty area it has to be on the spot. I think the placed the ball some 3 meters closer to the goal and as the penalty area is 16 meters this is a lot closer.

    Another foul by the ref.

  29. Alex – you stated that you were convinced the ref got it right but didnt back it up. Instead you gave reasons why campbell and fabianski were wrong. Most people accept they should have taken precautions against the quick freekick, but it doesnt change the fact the ref shouldnt have allowed the goal. The ref is more to blame than anyone

  30. And may I just say that the ref realised what he had done within seconds after giving the goal.

    If I make a decision in my game and I am 100 % sure that I was right and did everything within the rules and the manager of the team on the receiving end came to talk to me I would send him to the stand.
    The fact that ref allowed him to talk to him and to discuss is speaking out loud that the ref was thinking: ‘Oh my God, I shouldn’t have allowed that goal but I can’t come back on this” (in fact he could, but I can give you several reasons why he didn’t).

    So the fact that he didn’t send Wenger to the stands tells the story to me: He knew he had acted wrong and didn’t want to make things worse by sending Wenger to the stand.

    To me, as a ref, it was a public confession.

  31. at gooneranio:
    I don’t doubt you’re words but please read this once again: “The referee indicates an indirect free kick by raising his arm above his head. He maintains his arm in that position until the kick has been taken ”

    From the moment you indicate an indirect free kick according to the instructions you have to MAINTAIN your arm in that position until the kick has been taken.

    So if he had raised his arm on the halfway line he should have kept it there until the kick was taken. He didn’t so every way you look at it, he didn’t follow the rules and the instructions.

  32. Hi Walter,

    Thanks for that, i don’t doubt what the rules are. All i am pointing out is that many people seem to think that the referee only put his hand up after the free kick was taken but he did have his hand up before that. You’re right, he should have kept it up throughout the incident, what is outrageous is the fact that the reason he didn’t have his hand in the air the whole time is because he ran to Fabianski to get the ball off him. Double trouble. A referee has no right to do that and then hand the ball to the opposition team. If he was so adamant that Fabianski was to give the ball to him he should have held on to it himself and not give it straight to them in such a dangerous position.

  33. Great analysis on that incident Walter!

    And the Poll article just shows what rubbish English refs are made of really. No wonder he gave 3 yellow cards. If you click that link, pics 3 & 4 tell the whole story. The ref’s back faces the ball. He blocks Sol. He doesn’t give any signal at all. All these in the Champions League for heaven’s sake. Poll also gives no quotations to the rulebooks but gives an opinion which is clearly distorted and his readers’ comments show much more wisdom that his disgraceful article. He even goes so far to say that Fabianski should have held on for a yellow rather than play with sportsmanship. A must-read if anyone wants to see the state of the English game and the Anti-Arsenal sentiments in the English press.

    Also, why keep blaming Fabianski and Sol? People like Ryan, Paul C, you guys have been clearly brainwashed by the English media who advocate any cheating done against arsenal and painfully distort facts. My (non-Arsenal) case-in-point would be the strangling of Cristiano Ronaldo during a corner kick by Emanuel Pogatetz. Ronaldo winked against England. English press hate him. Period. Anyway, not a single article from the English press mentioned the strangling, but focused on his follow up confrontation being childish. Very similar to this incident where the blame was put on Sol being in the wrong position and Fabianski being foolish to give the ball back too early. I had to use this Ronaldo incident because incidents involving Arsenal would be too plenty to count, and would bring in the point of me being a blind supporter of Arsenal who doesn’t see the other side of the coin (instead of you guys having no opinion of your own and following the press all the time).

    Anyway, to go on topic again. How many times have we read that in the press that we deserve it because Henry started it? So here’s the famous goal then (, and lets draw the differences (yes differences, not similarities) then.

    Firstly, we see Gudjonsen at the end of the video panicking as Henry probably asked for permission to take the quick free kick. Was permission given in the Porto goal? Then we go to the other points. Did Cudicini have his back to the goal? Did the ref block any Chelsea player? Also, the ball was probably passed to Henry for some time rather than just being passed to him with evidence from the wall-in-progress. Where’s this “karma” then, with the incidents being completely different from one another?

    If I daresay it, Match-fixing anyone? Being paranoid helps when supporting the Arsenal after all 😉

  34. Zack – Incidentally, I just saw on Sky Sports News (who else) the new head of English refs, Dermot J. Gallagher, repeating the same crap as most of the English press, i.e. it is a perfectly good goal. No wonder English referees, actually British, have lost what used to be a pre-eminent position in world football. It is this sort of ignorance why FIFA cannot trust English refs with none of the big games in the latter stages of the World Cup. In that same report, only Steve Bruce, among English managers showed any solidarity with Wenger. Can you imagine if the same boot was on the foot of ManU, Chelsea or Liverpool.
    Unfortunately, once again we have the spectacle of too many Arsenal fans too quick to find a scapegoat. In this case it is Fabianski but it could have been any foreigner whom the press and the bloggers have figured are an easy target. Fabianski had a major cock-up for the 1st goal but he was simply the victim of very poor refereeing in the case of the 2nd. The boy made a couple of mistakes but that doesn’t make him a poor keeper.

  35. Like I said before I have some knowledge on how the refs get promotion and you must have some “friends” in the system.
    Who appoints the refs ? Higly placed persons. If you want to keep them as a frien ? Just blow the games the way they like it.

    Let me also take an example of another team. How much I loved it that Barcelona won against Chelsea I really think that it has gone like I wil describe it. Mmmmm now wait I minute… I feel a possible article coming up on this. A bit of silly maybe… but with some hidden truth in it.

    I will try it out later tonight and if doesn’t work out I will post it back here.

  36. …….. Why did the ref give a thumbs up to the Porto player who fouled Fab4 just before HT? Please walter, is that part of ref sing language?

  37. …….. Why did the ref give a thumbs up to the Porto player who fouled Fab4 just before HT? Please walter, is that part of ref sign language?

  38. Well said Shotta, as usual I agree with your stance and perspective.

    However one point I feel I have to concede is that the truth, at present, is Fab isn’t a GREAT keeper.

    I do think the ref was atrocious and I feel truly disgusted at the reaction of our referees and their role in defending a fellow ref – rather than calling the truth (he had a stinker). I choose to believe that this is what is causing the distorted and transparently incorrect analysis of the sequence of events but only because I find the idea of corruption on this scale to difficult to stomach or believe.

    I don’t think Fab had the worst game in living memory – he made a bad mistake early on, recovered reasonably well, and then made another error (with some help from the otherwise largely excellent Sol).

    Nonetheless, I am not too rose tinted to agree with others who are baffled as to why Wenger has never found a great keeper. We did have the chance at Van der Sar and Givens and they would have made a huge difference. Hell! Brad Friedel would have been a great signing!

    The top two keepers at the club are not of the class we should be aiming for and anyone with a footballing brain knows a truly great keeper is worth his weight in gold. It remains a mystery that Wenger seems to place so little importance on it.

    Almunia & Fab are decent keepers and Fab might be great one day but should we not ask for something a little better right now (or more importantly quite a few years ago?).

  39. Fabianski was the sole reason Chelsea beat Arsenal in last seasons FA cup semi – not just one big blunder either but two and both resulting in goals. He also cost us in the FA cup this year with his miserable defending of Delaps long throw which cost us the first goal and put us on the back foot against Stoke. And now he makes two more massive blunders that could send us out of this season’s CL. It’s just not good enough, and he cannot be allowed to let his team mates down in such big ways again. A top class goalie should now be top priority this summer, even if it costs us £20m to get the right one. Fabianski will never be good enough – look at Joe Hart as a comparison. they are the same age (Fab maybe year older), yet Hart is already consistently a good goalkeeper with very few errors. Its hard to swallow when you lose games because of always the incompetence of a goalkeeper – no wonder Cesc was speaking about schoolboy errors.
    That said, it was still a very poor showing in general by Arsenal – just about their worst performance this season IMO – in a game that was there for the taking. But I am confident that we will still get the job done at home and win by at least 2 clear goals.

  40. Just a quick one, even without looking in the rulebook, on replays you can clearly see that the referee hasnt raised his arm until after the ball was passed!!! How did no one see this! Dirty team + clueless referee= defeat. The ref should be banned till next season. I doubt Uefa will ever look into a case going against arsenal, it seems to happen every couple of years so, i cant remember the last time we were given the benefit of the doubt. Almost reminds me of Liverpool in the champions league, they got decisions all the time!

  41. No doubt, the anti-Wengarians have been tooling up over the last few hours.
    Yet another example of poor coaching, a betrayal of Real Football (which like Real Tennis can only be played by Real Men).

    According to most media sources like the Guardian etc…and their edited comments sections, the club is going backwards faster then you can say WMD’s.

    Expect much more insane gibberish on the level of

    “Ivan Gazidas signed Arshavin,”
    “They don’t practice defending”
    “Cesc doesn’t love me anymore”

    Oh joy.

  42. Sorry that meant to say

    “The Arsenal are going backward’s faster then you can say WMD’s”

    (boom boom!)

  43. shotta-gunna
    February 18th, 2010 at 2:14 pm
    Well, Well, Well. Walter – that is certainly a catalog of mistakes by the ref. I wondered how many in the tabloid press and “well-endowed” gooners are going to challenge your analysis. Of course it is easier to scapegoat Fabianski for goal #2 and to rip the team to pieces.

    Yes, shotta-gunna, it’s MUCH easier to accept the truth than it is to justify the impossible. Forget about whether it was an intentional back-pass, and forget about the finer points of the game – Fabianski shouldn’t have caught it in the first place. And what about the first goal?

    Blaming it on the ref is like blaming World War 2 on Neville Chamberlain.

    Walter, you’re a knowledgeable guy and you love the Arsenal, but you don’t have to defend the indefensible. Fabianski was crap the other night. We made “school-boy errors”. End of story. You’re not any less an Arsenal fan for saying it. Even Cesc said it.

  44. Jonny at 6:42 pm – I was careful not to say Fabianski is great. I agree with you – he is far from being world class but IMO he has the potential to become so. Like many other prospects in the past, with a decent run of games, I am sure he will prove the sceptics and scapegoaters wrong. People forget that earlier this season he was out injured for a long spell (remember when Don Vito was promoted as our No. 1)and has three or so sporadic outings with the 1st team. As long as Almunia is our 1st choice his opportunities will be limited.

    Thee bigger issue is the demand or the expectation by many that Wenger and Arsenal should go out and splash major cash on a world class keeper. It is completely in contradiction with the current recession and the gloomy economic climate. IMO, there has been a paradigm change in football economics. I am convinced that we are in a deflationary era and we are still in the early stages. Any club which is crazy to spend 15-20 million on a keeper and commmit to paying him at least 100,000 per week is rolling the dice with their future. Even Arsenal with its substantial cash-in-hand cannot engage in this madness. Wildy repeating the cliche that a goalkeeper wil save you six (6) points or whatever number misses the entire point. Most clubs, with the exception of Oil City and KGB-Fulham, must ensure their long term survival by patiently growing from within. I will not be surprised that next summer Man-IOU has to sell some of the family silver to meet its debt obligations. Interesting times are ahead.

  45. May I add a thing about the ref. In the first half I think Cesc had to endure 5 attacks that could have ended his game. Just like someone mentioned the ref gave a tumbs up to one of the Porto players. No where in my books I can find the thumbs up signal to a player that just makes horrible fouls.
    It reminds me of the thumbs up from Kuyt after he had pulled down Hleb in the CL game at the Emirates to his compatriot and friend ref Vink. In HOlland the pundits and football fans still get annoyed when they think of this.

  46. Just forgot the say that the ref let to many things pass by and didn’t gave yellow cards for those attacks on Cesc. During the whole game he was poor in this. Later in the game he gave a few yellow cards but not enough if you ask me.

    Well endowed just want to say that I have a little bit of a history on highlighting the refs on this site. When there are strange things or blatant mistakes done by refs the audience is crying out for me to give my opinion on it. And I must say that as a ref I feel well placed to give my opinion on those matters.

    I even try to be as neutral as I can be. You could even see I didn’t blame him for deciding to give the indirect free kick as this is down to the interpretation of the ref.

    I leave the pointing to our players over to those who feel more qualified to do so but like Tony said from the moment the game ended they asked me to give my opinion. So the readers demand, I deliver and I must say that if I also would have taken on the task to give a rating of every player on the field you still could be reading the article by now.

  47. Well walter you have tread what I think is the “Grey” line in football.. In football decisions are qualitative and rarely quantitative.. Like you rightly pointed out “The referee’s point of view”.. On the other hand a game like Cricket (Ask tony if you haven’t a faintest idea) the rules are defined to the point of being insane and there is always the option for the on-field Umpires (cricket refs) to confer with their colleague who sits high up above the stands watching replays, commercials and stuff.. Now the reason we all watch football is that it is a game thats played for 90 minutes with great twists.. A normal game of cricket is played for 8.5 Hours including all breaks.. Should we bring systems that challenge the refs decision in football we compromise on the excitement.. So all of us know that its impossible so in the world of football the Refs word is absolute even if he is a vermin like Hansen.. So imho i think in this Arsene has to let go about the Ref and do something about the factors that led to the goal.. 1) Clichy with all his experience shouldnt have made himself look so trivial 2) Fab needs catching practice 3) Am not going to blame Sol, I felt he had am AWESOME game yesterday, but I dont blame Fab for picking it uo either cos with all the benefit of hindsight it took me many replays to see that there indeed was a touch but i think the Goalie was a bit naive in holding onto the ball he shouldnt have cared or even looked at that son of an honourable bitch hansen and just kicked it or thrown out of the Area.. I think he was nervy after the way the first goal was conceded.. I was talking to a fellow gooner and he told me we were level so why be nervous.. but having played the game myself i can confidently say that although Football is a team game EVERY player on the pitch is conscious about the mistakes EVERY OTHER player makes .. Hell Arsenal could have been 5 up Fabianski would have still been nervous.. So Lord Wenger has to look at thi defeat in another perspective and try to bring about a change in the mentality of the players.. you know has to go out of his way to boost them up.. and am sure we’ll get these hardplaying porto guys at the emirates..

  48. The ref did raise his arm to denote the indirect free kick. But he did it just as the ball was almost in the net well after the kick was taken. So he knew he’d made a mistake and should have made Porto retake the free kick. Also Fabianski picked up the ball just inside the box and yet the ref allowed them to take the kick about 5 yards forward. So the referee mistakes just keep piling up.

  49. Criticizing Martin Hansson does not mean effacing the mistakes of Fabianski and Sol. Yes, our players bungled it, that is certain. No one is, as WEG states, trying to “defense the indefensible.”

    But Champions League level referee Martin Hansson ALSO bungled it. That is what Walter is pointing out in his excellent analysis.

    I worry about Fabianski’s nerves, particularly after the media and fans are jumping on him. I wouldn’t be too surprised if he’s feeling queasy about even stepping onto the Emirates pitch. What he needs are fans to support him after this (think about Abou and how he came back after his mistake against Man U earlier this season). I also think he should be sent out on loan for next season so he can gain some experience and composure. And so he doesn’t have to think of his night in Porto. From the looks of things, a loan might be the only way to save his Arsenal (or even footballing) career.

  50. Did we remember that fatal error of Richard Wright by letting a shot thru’ his legs?

    Well Tim, I believe that these latest errors (two of ’em) from Fabianski may have effectively destroyed his confidence and he may very well be never the same again.

    In all probability, he may go the way of Richard Wright.

    If Wenger still has the confidence and belief in him, we will see him playing this Saturday; under closed scrutiny as to the mental toughness of Fabianski.

    We will know if Fabianski is as mental fragile as Manniger.

  51. Actually the ref’s hand was raised after the ball was played contrary to the picture Merlin provided from the Sun.

    I have to admit that I have never seen an incident like that but we shouldn’t have been in the situation to begin with.

  52. Oh remember Chelsea vs Barca (2nd leg) last season? The media supported them going against Ovrebo, saying Chelsea lost due to the ref and the ref only. The ref got death threats and all. What about this? Did any news report say it’s the ref’s fault, or did they go on trying to defend the ref (a la Graham Poll) and instead put fault on both Fabianski and Campbell? Yet another case of double standards.

  53. Thanks Ole Gunner. I didn’t watch the match.
    Another interesting question:

    Is the goal off-side?
    There was no defender in front of both Porto players.

    Indirect freekick means that you need a 2nd touch, a pass to a 2nd player.
    Then, the 2nd player, when he received the pass from the dead ball, is in an off-side position as the last defender – Sol – was behind him.

    The goal should be disallowed for off-side.

  54. @Merlin96, It cannot be offside because when the freekick was taken, the second player was coming from a location ‘behind’ the ball. Hence, no offside even if there are no players between him and goalkeeper.

  55. What I’m tired of is always having some sort of controversy surrounding a post-match analysis of Arsenal. There’s always some media circus and it’s tiring, even as a spectator. Even when Arsenal wins, like against Liverpool, we had to have a deliberate handball at the death.

    I’d prefer a straight up win or loss. A straight up loss and we can say we just were outplayed, there were no individual errors, or anything of that sort. No more of “if who and who didn’t…we would have won/scored/not conceded”. A straight up win and we can sit back and say we deserve it and no one can dispute us.

    Arsenal, like Liverpool, has been made the media’s whipping boys, and this needs to stop. If I, as a spectator, am sick of this, I cannot imagine how the players feel, and that is not helped by the strong section of Arsenal supporters calling out for beheadings after one or two bad performances.

  56. The Boss doesn’t mince words. Wow. This is just awesome.

    From today’s press conference, as related through the Daily Mail (a very reputable source, of course, but they are quoting him correctly this time):

    Wenger said ‘I believe that he is incompetence or dishonest. I prefer that he is incompetent.

    ‘Usually I trust the referee. I never have bad intention. But when I spoke with referees I want to understand why he made so many technical mistakes. That assesses his competence.

    ‘The rule is quite clear. I don’t want to get too much in technical details but he made at least five technical mistakes for a referee.

    He (also) missed a 100% penalty on (Tomas) Rosicky. I can accept that judgement. But once it gets to technicality. For me the (Sol Campbell) back pass is accidental. He (the referee) judge differently. We have a difference there.

    ‘A guy who makes so many technical mistakes that (it) is not about judgement. I believe that he is not competent.’

  57. Good and strong words from Wenger.
    I think there could be some other things as well but as you know by now I’m a bit paranoid. Maybe because I move around in ref’s circles…

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