Andre Marriner’s refereeing faux pas in the Chelsea v Arseanl clash at the weekend has been well documented.
Despite his blunder, the referees' association - aka the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (or PGMOL) - have kept faith with their man, and appointed him to officiate at the high-profile Southampton-Newcastle game this weekend.
It's a decision that ensured the furore over the original decision rumbles on - with it emerging on Tuesday that Marriner's mistake may have come from being overworked. A report in the Sun states that Marriner spent 19 hours travelling more than 1,000 miles on Friday after he was an additional referee at the Europa League clash between Fiorentina and Juventus on Thursday.
Twitter, as ever, was both sprightly and humorous in its reaction to the case of mistaken identity:
Kieran Gibbs has been found guilty in the Oscar Pistorious trial #BlameGibbs
— James Littleton (@ljizzle95) March 22, 2014
Some say Kieran Gibbs is responsible for the Great Fire of London in 1666 #blamegibbs
— Samuel Lloyd (@samlloyddd) March 22, 2014
Our resident Photoshop wizard @BeardedGenius this week took the opportunity to have his own unmistakable look at the situation:
It is fair to say that Arsenal fans have been and remain a little perturbed by this case of mistaken identity. So much so that one ingenious fan has set up a handy test to ensure this grave miscarriage of justice never happens again:
While the above examples are all good-humoured reactions, there have also been some much nastier accusations flying around, making the fairly outrageous (and logically nonsensical) suggestion that a case of mistaken identity involving players of a different racial background somehow constitutes racism. Which it doesn't.
For what it's worth the man himself is apparently "devastated" at what happened, and apologised to Gibbs at half-time during the match - and PGMOL has since issued a statement reiterating his regret.
But as heartfelt as his sorrow may be, there is still a big question to be asked: after such a huge, match-deciding mistake in one of the biggest matches of the season, should Marriner really be officiating this weekend?
Some answer that question with a resounding yes, and the 43-year-old - who has been a Premier League ref for nearly a decade - has in particular received lots of support. Former referee Dermot Gallagher, for example, has argued that Marriner's blunder was just "a genuine mistake and that's all," while Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said that he was "unlucky" and Jose Mourinho argued that all the incident really shows is that technology should be used more in the game.
Others have been far less forgiving - among them legendary ref Clive Thomas, now in his late 70s - who said that Marriner should be sidelined until next season, as should all the other match day officials, assistant referees Scott Ledger and Marc Perry, and fourth official Anthony Taylor.
ED is firmly on the fence on this one. It is a mistake, yes, but it is an outrageously large one in a game that is as big as it gets. Marriner was fortunate that the game was more or less over when the decision was made - though you might also argue that trailing 2-0 early on is bad but recoverable, while trailing 3-0 and being a man down is well and truly game over.
Imagine, though, if the game had been finely poised when the wrong player was sent off; it could have had huge ramifications for the title race.
Therefore, while ED believes that Marriner should not be castigated too harshly for the mistake, it's surely wrong that he should get away without any sort of payback after what was a poor decision. And the simplest, fairest sanction would surely have been to remove him from the refereeing list for a weekend.
But who is ED to judge? We'll hand it over to you to have your say. Was it a simple mistake that should be glossed over, or a catastrophic error that should see the referee from the West Midlands banished from the Premier League?
Have your say in the comments box below.
- Sports & Recreation
- Andre Marriner
- Kieran Gibbs