Complaining about referees has always been, and always will be, a big part of being a football fan.
Nowadays, debates over the pros and cons of VAR are all the rage, but looking back at some of these baffling decisions over the years might make you relieved that the technology exists nowadays.
Nigeria denied by blind-sighted referee
In something of a repeating theme, Nigeria were denied glory by a poor decision over whether the ball had crossed the line after hitting the crossbar.
Victor Ikpeba’s spot kick in the shoot-out of the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations final clearly went in, but referee Mourad Daami didn’t think so, and his poor decision cost the host nation the cup as Cameroon triumphed 4-3.
Schumacher gets away with one
It was arguably the most blatant red card a World Cup has ever seen and yet, somehow, Germany goalkeeper Harold Schumacher was allowed to remain on the pitch in the 1982 semi-final.
France’s Patrick Battiston was left knocked unconscious with two missing teeth, three cracked ribs and damaged vertebrae from the goalie’s reckless ‘tackle’, yet the referee waved play on and no foul was given.
Marriner gets his wires crossed
With Chelsea already leading 2-0 against Arsenal, things got worse for the Gunners when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saved a shot with his hand to concede a penalty.
Referee Andre Marriner brandished a red card – but astonishingly showed it to Kieran Gibbs instead, despite the Ox admitting his guilt. Marriner later apologised for the mistaken identity, after Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of the north London club ended in a 6-0 drubbing.
Lampard’s luck runs out
England were sure they had pulled a goal back in their 2010 World Cup meeting with Germany when Frank Lampard’s piledriver came down off the bar and over the line before bouncing out.
It was ruled out by the linesman, who judged it not to have gone over the line, but replays showed clear space between the line and the ball.
Bayern’s phantom goal dooms Nuremberg
In the Bundesliga, Thomas Helmer of Bayern Munich tried to outfox Nuremberg goalkeeper Andy Kopke with a close-range backheel, only to send it wide.
However, the Bavarian giants were somehow awarded a goal courtesy of linesman Jorg Jablonski and it had serious knock-on effects. Nuremberg lost 2-1 rather than picking up a precious point, and were eventually relegated on goal difference – with the phantom goal costing them a place in the top flight.
The ‘Hand of God’
Diego Maradona’s infamous handball for Argentina, which knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, is perhaps the most famous (or infamous) refereeing gaffe of all time.
Tunisian official Ali Bin Nasser later blamed a haemorrhoid treatment for affecting his sight and causing him to miss it.
Byron Moreno enrages Italy
Ecuadorian whistler Moreno became public enemy No.1 in Italy after a series of terrible decisions saw them knocked out of the 2002 World Cup by joint-hosts South Korea.
He awarded South Korea a soft penalty, showed Hwang Sun-hong yellow for a challenge that he later admitted deserved a red, overlooked an elbow in the face of Alessandro Del Piero inside the box and a boot on Paolo Maldini’s head, sent off Francesco Totti for diving when he should’ve had a penalty, and ruled out Damiano Tommasi’s would-be golden goal in extra time for offside.
Spain stunned in South Korea
South Korea were again at the centre of refereeing controversy when Spain were left bemused by calls made by Gamal Al-Ghandour, who ruled out two Spanish goals in regulation time.
Chelsea’s Champions League rage
Norwegian official Tom Henning Ovrebo denied Chelsea a place in the Champions League final in 2009 after ignoring four separate penalty appeals against Barcelona in the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
It can’t have been much solace to Blues fans, but he did at least admit he was in the wrong a decade later. “It was not my best day really,” he told Marca. “Some days you are not at the level you should be. I can’t be proud of that performance.”
Thierry Henry breaks Irish hearts
Ireland’s World Cup play-off against France in Paris was delicately poised at 1-1 when the Arsenal striker clearly controlled the ball with his hand to set up William Gallas’ extra-time winner, which sent the French to South Africa at Ireland’s expense