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Biggest Referee Mistakes in Football

  • Several referee mistakes have happened during important games
  • Maradona’s Hand of God goal is one of the biggest
  • Graham Poll managed to give three yellow cards to a player
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They don't always book it right.

Football is the most popular sport in the world, with millions watching the biggest tournaments. Everyone is concentrating on the players, but there is one person, who can have an even more important part in a game. Yes, the referee, who can decide the results with his decisions, which are sometimes unfortunately wrong. Let’s see the biggest referee mistakes which people still remember. 

There have been several new improvements in the last few years made by football organizations with the aim to help the referees. Which is understandable after the pressure they need to work with. Just imagine being the referee of a World Cup final, where any small mistake can have huge consequences. So there came the introduction of a fourth official, the goal-line technology and most recently the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). All were designed to make the referee’s job easier. But even with the help of these innovations, any referee can still make a mistake for 90 minutes. 

Biggest referee mistakes in the World Cups

Mistakes like disallowing a goal due to offside, sending off someone without major fault. Or just not giving a righteous penalty used to happen in most tournaments. But some of them were really crucial and decided the winner of an important game or perhaps even the championship. This was certainly the case at one of the most memorable games in history, the England vs Argentina game on the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. 

Just to recap, it was a quarter-final, where the Argentine team won 2-1 with the goal of Maradona. Surely everyone has seen this goal, in which Maradona used his hand not his head to score. Well, the referee, Ali Bin Nasser from Tunisia hasn’t seen it. Thanks to his decision it has become the world’s most debated goal. We were discussing the goal in more detail earlier. If you’re a fan of Maradona and Argentina, you can already bet on their win in the next world cup at Unibet

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All the Hand of God deserved was a yellow card.

There were some interesting decisions on another world cup, the one from South Korea and Japan in 2002. One of the hosts, South Korea was assisted by the decisions of the referees in several games, but the most obvious one happened in their game against Italy. Here the referee Byron Moreno awarded a very soft penalty to South Korea. On top of that he has also sent off Franceso Totti from the Italian team, so he is not a popular person in the country now.

Unique mistakes

Usually, referees are quite precise and pay attention to details. To contradict this, the biggest referee mistake happened with a very experienced English referee. Graham Poll managed to give three yellow cards to a Croatian player during a game in the 2006 World Cup. His decision didn’t have big effects on Australia vs Croatia game but ended Poll’s career. By the way, Croatia did superbly on the last world cup in France, finishing second behind the hosts. Their odds to win the 2020 Euros are 26.00 at Unibet. 

Another weird error happened in a historic game between England and Germany in the 2010 World Cup. The German team was leading 2-1 when Frank Lampard scored a huge goal from 20 yards. The ball landed from the bar into the net, at least everyone thought that. Except for the Uruguayan referee and his assistant who disallowed it. So instead of equalizing, the English team received three more goals and lost the game. Online sportsbooks in the UK are hoping for a better result next year in the Euros, especially as the final will be held in Wembley. 

Exactly the opposite, a so-called ‘ghost-goal’ happened on an English League Championship game in 2008 between Watford and Reading where a goal was given after a huge mistake. After seeing a video of the game, it’s hard to imagine how could the assistant thought that the ball has crossed the line inside the post when it was four yards outside. At least it wasn’t affecting the title, like the following samples. 

Wrong decisions which decided titles

Usually, the race in the Premier League is so tight, even a point can matter at the end. So if a referee makes a game affecting mistake, it can make an impact on the future winner. This happened in 2010. Chelsea and Manchester United were fighting for the title back then. Six rounds before the end of the season, the two teams were meeting. On the game, referee Mike Dean allowed an offside goal scored by Didier Drogba. His score helped Chelsea to win the game and eventually the whole championship. 

Serious mistakes can happen in the Champions League as well, especially in favor of the two Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Like in Real’s quarter-final against Bayern Munich in the 2016/17 season. In this game, Real Madrid’s Casemiro should have been sent off but he stayed on, while Bayern’s Arturo Vidal received a red card later. Cristiano Ronaldo also scored two offside goals in extra time, helping Real win the game and later the Champions League. Find our prediction for this season’s Champions League on our website.

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Casemiro, where are you?

While online gambling sites in the UK was outraged mostly about a Chelsea vs Barcelona semi-final where the Blues were claiming five penalty cases. But referee Obrevo dismissed them all, Barcelona won the game and after Guardiola’s first title as well. With the introduction of VAR, hopefully, fewer errors will happen during the games. And the good news is that you can make a bet on all of them at Unibet’s website. Just read our latest review about Unibet sportsbook for some useful tips. 

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