There was plenty of drama in the Premier League during the last round. Understandably, a lot of attention was paid to the two Manchester teams that were vying for the title trophy of the Premier League. Ultimately, after much drama and in an incredibly nail-biting fashion, Manchester City defeated QPR 3-2 and was crowned the Champion of the Premier League. But there was a similar and heart-wrenching drama at the bottom of the table as well. Before the weekend games began, everybody knew that only a win – and a QPR defeat at Manchester City – would have resulted in Bolton staying up in the English Premier League.
Unfortunately for Bolton, they fell behind fairly quickly after Jonathan Walters was awarded a goal in the 13th minute of the match by the referee Chris Foy. To say it that the goal was controversial would be a huge understatement. In fact, we believe that Mr. Foy simply blew it. Instead of calling a foul on Walter for knocking the ball out of Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan’s hands, the referee let the play continue and awarded the goal. The video footage, however, clearly showed that Bogdan caught the ball and was in full control of the ball until Walters roughed him up and knocked the ball out of his hands with his head.
According to IFAB’s Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees, “when a goalkeeper has gained possession of the ball with his hands, he cannot be challenged by an opponent.” Moreover, IFAB explained that “ a goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball … while the ball is between his hands…” In the situation at hand, Adam had the ball between his hands. The ball was not juggling in his hands. It was firmly in Bogdan’s possession until Walters headed Bogdan’s arm/elbow and the ball out of his hands. The referee should have immediately call a foul on Walters for illegally challenging Bogdan who had possession of the ball. According to Owen Coyle, Bolton’s manager, Mr. Foy explained that he did not call a foul because “it happened so quickly [and I] wasn’t well placed to see it.”
This explanation did not appear satisfactory to Owen Coyle. Mr. Coyle was reported to say that “we feel aggrieved at the way events transpired today” and that he could not understand “how can that first goal be allowed to stand when Adam Bogdan had clearly got the ball in his hands.” Angry Coyle lashed out that “I’m aware it sounds like sour grapes — but how can that first goal be given? I find it incredible. It was a horrible decision. I’ve been in to see the officials and I haven’t come out any the wiser. Our keeper has clearly got the ball in both hands. I could see that 50 yards away and yet they’ve allowed it to stand. Walters sticks his head in half way up Adam’s arm. It leaves a bad taste …”
As the fate would have it, Bolton’s 11-year stay in the Premier League was cruelly ended, because neither the referee nor his assistant referee intervened when Walters barreled his way into Bogdan, knocking the ball out of his hands and into the net.