I’m sure you’re all aware everyone is focused on some questionable refereeing in a rather large game on Sunday.
And no, I’m not talking about the Super Bowl (so maybe you didn’t know then). I’m talking about the diabolical decision by referee Mike Riley in the Chelsea-Liverpool match, in which Riley sent off Chelsea’s midfield maestro Frank Lampard for what appeared to be a 50-50 challenge on Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso. Chelsea coach Jose Felipe Scolari was understandably unamused.
(I know, I know. Two posts in a row from me about refereeing. What is the world coming to?)
After being reduced to 10 men, Chelsea succumbed to two late strikes by Fernando Torres and fell 2-0. After the match all anyone wanted to talk about was Riley’s decision to issue Lampard a red card and then his shocking decision not to do the same to Chelsea defender Jose Bosingwa, who purposely Bruce Lee-d Liverpool’s Yossi Benayoun’s arse later in the match.
Now, Liverpool vs. Chelsea wasn’t the Super Bowl, but it was a critical match-up in this year’s title race with both teams chasing Manchester United. People were quick to damn the referee’s decision with some newspapers calling for “the hatchet.”
Former Premier League referee Graham Poll had little sympathy for his former peer.
“Riley’s style of refereeing is not one I enjoy. He doesn’t have empathy with players, nor a feel for the game. He is a manufactured referee, but one who usually gets the big decisions right,” Poll said.
Talk about your backhanded compliment. That’s like, “You know, he’s a really great lay, but his Herpes worry me,” or “He could have been the biggest playa in the game, if he could only spit an ounce of game.”
Because you know, Graham Poll never f-ed up on the field…wait a second.
Isn’t this the guy who handed out three yellow cards to Josip Simunic in the 2006 World Cup Croatia-Australia game? Yes, yes it is.
“I thought it was going to be me out of the game, ridiculed for cocking up the World Cup,” Poll said in 2007. “That’s as low as I thought I’d ever feel about football and refereeing.”
Well, apparently not.
On Monday, Poll continued to pile on Riley using him as the glowing example of refereeing failures.
“The problem is that such glaring errors are becoming more and more commonplace. I now find it impossible to support the old tenet that the referee is always right.”
But the incident is more than just a catfight amongst whistleblowers. It plays to the core of a hotly debated concept, one which Brits can admit, us Americans have taken the lead – instant replay.
Using technology on the field has long been a debate in England. Time and time again, calls are missed and fancy replay computer simulations are shown to viewers, but not officials.
James Lawton, a columnist for The Independent, liked what he saw from the Americans.
“What happened in the Super Bowl XLIII was that Ken Whisenhunt, head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, twice made use of challenges permitted him by the National Football League. On both occasions he was successful, which meant that though he lost, narrowly, to his former club Pittsburgh Steelers he did not do so without any sickening sense that his fate had been decided by the flawed judgement of match officials.”
Wait, a second. Did a Brit just give the Yanks a pat on the back? They’ve been sore at us ever since the War of 1812 (which actually ended in 1815), and refer to us as the ex-colonies.
Well, instant replay might be the best American import to Britain since Burger King and Crest with fluoride. So you know what you foppish little English dandies - suck it. Suck it long and suck it hard.