Goal Singapore Top 5 - Refereeing blunders

Inspired by referee Andre Marriner’s bizarre sending off of Kieran Gibbs instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Goal Singapore takes a look at the worst mistakes from the men in black
When Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made a flying one-handed save to prevent a shot from going into the net during the match between Chelsea and Arsenal last weekend, he knew he was going to receive his marching orders.

Miraculously, referee Andre Marriner sent off Kieran Gibbs instead, much to the astonishment of everyone, and especially Oxlade-Chamberlain. It was a bizarre decision, especially as he refused to listen to the culprit owning up to his mistake.

While the good news is that Marriner has escaped demotion despite the blunder, he is now the poster boy for referees who have messed things up at the highest echelon of football.

There have been plenty of incidents of wrong refereeing decisions affecting the outcome of a game such as Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God", which the referee failed to spot, as well as Frank Lampard’s goal which never was in the 4-1 defeat to Germany in the 2010 World Cup quarter final.

In this week’s top 5, Goal Singapore takes a look at the best (worst) refereeing blunders in recent times.

5. TSG Hoffenheim vs Bayer Leverkusen
October 18 2013

Starting off our list is one of the most recent bizarre refereeing decision incidents. Referee Felix Brych awarded a freak goal to Stefan Kiessling after his header went wide but then crept into the net through a hole in the side-netting.

The goal proved decisive as Bayer Leverkusen ran out 2-1 winners of the night, much to everyone else’s dismay and surprise.

It was an atrocious decision by Brych to have allowed the goal to stand after Kiessling himself seemed to have held his head in frustration, thinking he had misssed a goal scoring opportunity.

However, the goal and result stood as the German Football Association (DFB) rejected Hoffenheim’s appeal for a replay.

"I thought the ball was going wide,” Brych said. “I lost sight of the ball as my view was blocked. Then I realised the ball had gone in."

Brych consulted his assistants when the ball went in, but he chose to award the goal nonetheless. Ridiculous.

4. South Korea vs Spain
June 22 2002

Back in the days when the Spanish national team were still dubbed as perennial underachievers, they took on co-hosts South Korea in the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup.

Spain were overwhelming favourites to reach the semi-finals but thanks to a refereeing farce, the match will forever be remembered as the Korean miracle.

Egyptian referee Gamal Ghandour disallowed two perfectly legitimate goals from Spain, leaving the Asian side going on to win the match on penalties.

The first dubious incident occurred after Ghandour somehow disallowed a goal after some pushing in the penalty area, which replays showed were almost non-existent.

The second one was far worse, as a linesman had ruled that the ball had gone out of play before it was squared to Fernando Morientes to score. Again, replays showed that the ball was nowhere near being out of play.

It was hard for the Spanish players to take as the Koreans became the first Asian side to reach the final four of the World Cup.

3. France vs Republic of Ireland
November 18 2009
It was a game that made former Arsenal legend Thierry Henry the most hated man in the Republic of Ireland.

The match was the second leg of a crucial World Cup qualifier match. France won the first leg 1-0 away and were well on course to qualify for the 2010 tournament in South Africa. But a Robbie Keane-inspired Irish team rallied in the second round to beat the European giants 1-0, sending the tie to extra time.

It was only 13 minutes into extra time when disaster struck for the Republic of Ireland. The visitors had been on top the entire match, but a Florent Malouda free-kick found Henry at the back post and the mercurial striker controlled the ball TWICE with his hand before passing it to Gallas to head home the winner.

It was a blatant handball(s) that the match officials somehow missed out on. Because of that, Ireland lost out on a World Cup spot, but it was Henry who got it just as bad as the incident tarnished his image as one of the greatest footballers around.

2. Turkey vs Brazil
June 3 2002

It is not every day you see a midfielder making the cut into such a countdown. But Frank Lampard is an exception.

The match will forever be remembered for the most ridiculous dive ever executed in the history of football.

The “diver,” as he was called, was none other than Rivaldo, as he helped his side to a 2-1 victory over the Turks.

The former Barcelona player was killing time over a corner kick near the end of the game when Hakan Unsal kicked the ball to his leg from a distance. He reacted by collapsing on the pitch clutching his face.

The Korean referee gave Unsal a second bookable offence, forcing him to leave the field. It was not so much Rivaldo’s act but the referee’s lack of depth, as well as the lack of support from the other referee officials, that created such furore.

Perhaps the Turks should have seen it coming after he dished out caution after caution during the game. The referee also made a dubious penalty decision as he sent off Alpay Ozalan after he pulled back Luizao when he was at least three yards from the penalty box.

Shambolic indeed.

1. Croatia vs Australia
June 22 2006

Of course, we save the best for last. And by best we mean the worse refereeing blunder, and the winner is none other than Graham Poll’s moment of absurdity during the 2006 World Cup match in Germany between Australia and Croatia. 

The seasoned veteran amazingly booked Josip Simunic twice without sending him off. It was only at the end of the match when he was booked for the third time for dissent before Poll finally sent him off.

That is perhaps one of the all-time great refereeing blunders, considering Poll made the most basic of errors on the biggest stage of world football.

Unsurprisingly, he was sent home early for the tournament and you wouldn’t bet on him refereeing an international game since. Disappointed or not, he will always be remembered for such a blunder despite a creditable reputation prior to his triple yellow card showing.