Who really wants to be a referee? Basically, you will never do it right. You will be made out to be who-knows-what by 22 players, two coaches and a stadium full of people, who are absolutely convinced you have made the wrong decision. Surely, this is unfair. Unless you really did make – well, the wrong decision.
Graham Poll (Croatia – Australia, 2006)
Three yellow cards before you send somebody off the pitch. Of course, this is a rare mistake, unless you are poor old Graham Poll from England, who was on his way to referee the World Cup finals in 2006. During the last pool match between Croatia and Australia, he pulled yellow three times on player Josip Šimunić before sending him off the pitch. Apparently, leading a match isn’t as simple as it seems.
Ali Bin Nasser (England – Argentina, 1986)
Possibly the most infamous blunder of all: The Hand of God by none other than Diego Maradona. It is nil-nil in the match between England and Argentina. Maradona accelerates suddenly, making his way forward in a one-two with Jorge Valdano. The ball bounces high into the air. Both Maradona and Shilton, the England goalie, jump after it. Alarm bells should have gone off with the Tunesian referee, but they don’t, because miraculously, Maradona being considerably smaller than Shilton, wins the battle in the air and the ball rolls slowly into the net. The referee approves the goal despite fiery protest from the England camp.
Felix Brych (Hoffenheim – Bayer Leverkusen, 2013)
One of the more forgivable but odd referee mistakes is the one by Felix Brych and the ‘Phantom Tor’. During a corner, Bayer Leverkusen player Stefan Kiessling rises high over the heads of the defence and plants a header. The ball lies in the back of the net, the referee approves the goal. Hoffenheim players are already heading to the centre circle to kick off again. But on replay the ball can be seen squeezing in through a hole in the side netting. It would have been impossible for Brych to have seen it with the naked eye. So, technically speaking, it was not a real blunder. But it is still a very odd goal.