A most bizarre and unacceptable situation occurred last weekend in the English Premier League.
Instead of being a day of celebration for the Frenchman, it turned out to be somewhat of a nightmare as his team were thoroughly thrashed 6 – 0 by table topping Chelsea.
The game in question was the top of the table clash between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in London and was the 1,000th game for the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
The ball was played into the Arsenal penalty area and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the “gunners” defender, deliberately handled the ball as it was going wide from a shot by a Chelsea attacker.
Referee Andre Mariner, a very experienced referee who is also on the FIFA list, correctly pointed to the penalty spot, but then inexplicably sent off Kieran Gibbs for a “DOGSO.” What’s the problem? Kieran Gibbs DID NOT handle the ball, it was his team mate Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Despite protestations from Gibbs, and other members of the Arsenal team, Mariner stuck to his guns and Gibbs had to leave the field.
Now the problem I have is this. Half the world and their dogs saw that Gibbs was the innocent victim in this debacle. The real culprit – Oxlade-Chamberlain - even went to the referee and admitted that it was him who handled the ball, but again the ref was having none of it.
As we all know, referees are in contact with each other now-a-days with radios and ear pieces for easier communication. You remember in the recent past when the ref had to run over to the linesman (now assistant referee) to get clarification on an issue? Not any more.
My question now is:
- What was the assistant referee on that side of the pitch doing during this incident?
- Where was he looking?
- Why wasn’t he doing his job of “assisting” the man-in-the-middle?
There are other things that the ref got wrong also.
This wasn’t a “DOGSO” as the ball was going wide. It could be argued that the ref didn’t know that at the time and was correct to interpret it as a “DOGSO.” Yes the penalty was correct.
The second thing is:
- Where was the other assistant ref looking?
- And what about the 4th official, what, if any, was his role in this?
- Is it possible that all 4 missed who had handled the ball?
It is also a fact that a referee can change his decision any time up to the resumption of the play. Television pictures showed Andre Mariner speaking on his ear piece. Who was he speaking if not to his assistants who, in my opinion, have to take some of the blame for what happened here.
We all know that match officials are not allowed access to television replays as a means of seeking clarification on any incident during the game. What a pity as this problem could have been ironed out quickly and to the satisfaction of all.
The bottom line in this case is that Kieran Gibbs who was wrongly sent off has had his red card rescinded and the real culprit, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, has also got away scott free.
It is a bad day for refereeing when such blatant mistakes happen which leaves us referees wide open to unnecessary and unwarranted abuse from fans, sports reporters and players.