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Top 5 worst refereeing decisions in football history

17 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Top 5 worst refereeing decisions in football history

Andre Marriner dropped a huge clanger this weekend, but was it among the worst of all time?

Andre Marriner dropped a fairly huge clanger this weekend in the Arsenal v Chelsea game, and there were several controversial decisions in the El Clasico match – but were they any worse than these utter howlers?


5. Are you ok, Nani?

An example that will typify United’s ‘luck’ for many, Old Trafford saw one of the oddest goals ever allowed to stand back in 2010 when Tottenham came to visit. With the Red Devils already 1-0 up, Nani darted into the area and went down late to try and draw a penalty, grabbing the ball as it rolled past him in the way that many players do when asking for a decision. Mark Clattenburg shook his head and waved play on. As the Spurs keeper rolled the ball for what he assumed was a free kick (since the handling was clear as day), Nani got up off the floor. He then looked at Clattenburg to ask if it was a free kick. The referee shook his head and Nani walked the ball past a stationary Gomes and thumped it into the net. The goal stood.


4. Zico see that?

World Cup 1978. A group stage match saw Brazil play Sweden, and the two sides were tied at 1-1 deep into stoppage time. Brazil sent in a corner that Zico headed home, but the referee’s final whistle went, denying the late winner. The man with the whistle, Welshman John Thomas, was surrounded by furious Brazilians – but there was no reprieve. To add insult to injury, replays showed the header was clearly in the net before the whistle went. Bottled.


3. Yellow, Yellow, Red

One of the most iconic farcical refereeing calls was by Graham Poll in the 2006 World Cup. Croatia were playing Australia in the final group match when Josep Simunic was blown up for a foul and Poll showed him a yellow card. So far, so good. The problem arose when Simunic got another yellow card in the 89th minute. Two yellows, but no sign of a red. The crowd and TV audience were mystified. The match ended, and after some arguments at the final whistle, the ‘Thing from Tring’ compounded his error and showed the Croatian player a third yellow and finally the red. The papers had a field day, but Poll had the last laugh. He now gets paid to write a column for the Mail and appear on Sky Sports to discuss refereeing decisions. The nerve.


2. Hand of Sod

Maradona scored 2 goals in the 1986 World Cup Quarter Final between England and Argentina. Both perfectly summed up his Jekyll and Hyde nature. One was called the ‘Goal of the Century’, a magnificent jinking, devastating run.  The other was called the ‘Hand of God’, and is one of the most enduring negative memories for any England fan. An attempted pass clipped off defender Steve Hodge’s boot and looped in the air. Peter Shilton and the Argentinian talisman jumped for it, and Maradonna won. Phenomenal. But wait, replays showed Maradonna punch the ball clean into the net. Heartbreak again for England. More was to come.


1.  Such ghost goal, much heartbreak

The number 1 spot. A moment of such breath-taking injustice that it was one of the main factors behind a major shift in FIFA introducing goal-line technology – England were facing Germany in the 2010 World Cup. Quickly falling to 2-0 deficit, England rallied with venom, Matthew Upson sneaking in a header to reduce the deficit. Then it happened. Lampard chested down a deflected ball and unleashed a dipping volley that crashed off the crossbar and in. The crowd went wild. However, out of all of the thousands of people in the stadium, the referee was the only one who couldn’t see that the ball had crossed the line. Replays showed it was a good foot past. Fans and players alike were distraught. The eventual 4-1 scoreline was a convenient one, but going in at half time 2-2 after a fight back would surely have produced a different result from the tame second half surrender. A terrible decision, and with any luck it might be a different story in Brazil with goal line technology added.


Do you agree with Lampard at Number 1? Was yours the beach-ball goal? Henry’s handball? Let us know