The Rundown

Women’s World Cup sees worst ref blunder of all time

The Rundown

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A referee in the Women's World Cup made an astonishing blunder at the weekend, failing to award a spot-kick after what is surely the clearest foul in the history of the game.

The shocking blunder has inspired us to take a look at the top 10 worst refereeing travesties of all time - starting off with the new entry, which comes in at the very top of the list.

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1. Australia denied clearest penalty in history of football

A referee made a calamitous blunder in a Women's World Cup game by failing to spot a defender who calmly caught the ball in both hands during a match.

When Australian striker Leena Kharmis hit the post with her shot in a match against Equatorial Guinea, she then sprang forward with a good chance of having another effort from the rebound.

But Guinea defender Bruna had other ideas: she calmly caught the ball as it bounced towards her, held on to it for at least three seconds, then calmly threw it down to her own goalkeeper who carried on as if nothing had happened.

The stunned Australians couldn't believe their eyes - and nor apparently did Hungarian referee Gyoengyi Gaal, who simply waved play on in spite of the attacking team's protests.

Equatorial Guinea scored soon after to tie the scores at 1-1, but luckily for the referee the Aussies hit back to claim a 3-2 victory despite being denied what is surely the clearest penalty in the history of football.

Watch the video:



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2. Hand of God (1986)

Before this weekend we'd have put this down as  the worst refereeing decision in the history of the sport.  England were taking on Argentina in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and were doing well in front of 114,000 people at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico.

After a goalless first half Bobby Robson's side were holding their own, and in with a real chance of advancing to the semi-finals before seven minutes into the second period Diego Maradona leapt above Peter Shilton and palmed the ball into the England net.

Referee Ali Bin Nasser claimed that a haemorrhoid treatment had impaired his vision, causing him to miss the handball.

Nobody missed what happened just four minutes later, however: the little Argentine scored one of the greatest goals of all time, leaving five England players trailing in his wake before scoring the greatest goal in the history of the game.

England pulled one back to make it 2-1 with 10 minutes left, but the handball goal proved decisive - prompting Maradona's famous explanation that it was scored with "a little bit of the head of Maradona and another bit of the hand of God".

3. Ref scores during match between Ankaragucu and Besiktas (1986)

"People only become referees because they can't play football," is a phrase many refs have had to endure over the years.

Unfortunately for Besiktas, the aphorism turns out not to be true. During a Superlig match between Ankaragucu and Besiktas in 1986, with the scores tied at 0-0 in the final minute, a misdirected cross flew straight at the referee, who froze like the proverbial rabbit in headlights.

The ball bounced clean off his forehead and into the goal. Astonishingly, the official allowed the goal to stand.

Watch the goal (External site)

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4. Frank Lampard shot that crossed the line v Germany (2010)

England had been dazzled by Germany's fast start in their World Cup last-16 match in 2010, but Fabio Capello's men quickly pulled one back through Matthew Upson and looked to have equalised just before the break when Frank Lampard's chip from 20 yards looped over German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

The ball ricocheted off the bar and bounced at least a yard over the line, prompting celebrations from the England players that were cut short when referee Jorge Larrionda signalled that the ball had not crossed the line and waved play to continue.

England eventually lost 4-1, but the dispute about goal-line technology was reignited.

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5. Thierry Henry handball v Ireland (2009)

Ireland were defeated in their World Cup qualifier against France in Paris courtesy of one of the most blatant handballs football has ever produced.

The Irish had lost the first leg in Dublin thanks to Nicolas Anelka's solitary goal, but Robbie Keane's 32nd-minute strike had levelled the tie and sent the teams to extra time to decide who would take part in the World Cup.

That decision was effectively taken when Thierry Henry handballed close to the byline during the first half of extra-time, allowing him to slip the ball across to William Gallas to score the winner from point-blank range.

The former Arsenal striker admitted to the handball after the game but it was France who went on to the World Cup - though Ireland fans were left smiling the next summer as the French came home with their tails between their legs after a miserable showing at the tournament amid infighting in the camp.

6. Ball boy scores in Brazil (2006)

Away side Atletico Sorocaba were leading 1-0 in their match against Santacruzense during the final few minutes of a league match in Brazil when the home side's effort to equalise flew wide of the goal.

But a cheeky ball boy standing next to the goal refused to see his heroes beaten. He snuck onto the pitch and quickly nudged another ball he had with him over the goalline - and incredibly the goal was given. Female referee Silvia Regina de Oliveira was surrounded by the livid Sorocaba team and ultimately suspended - but the goal stood.

Watch the goal (External site) 


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7. The Ghost Goal: Watford v Reading (2008)

Referee Stuart Atwell and his assistant Nigel Bannister were at fault during this Championship match at Vicarage Road. Stephen Hunt's (pictured) corner was headed wide of the goal but Bannister wrongly informed Atwell that the ball had crossed the line.

The referee awarded the goal, much to the surprise of everybody - even the Watford players, who hadn't even considered trying to claim the goal.

Very sportingly, Reading manager Steve Coppell allowed the two teams to replay the match, which finished 2-2.



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8. Harald Schumacher's assault on Patrick Battison (1982)

This is one that will live long in the memory of many - although not in Battiston's as he remembers little of an incident that left him knocked unconscious on the turf.

The French player raced through on goal and attempted to flick the bouncing ball over the onrushing Schumacher, but was stopped in his tracks as the German custodian clattered in to him, knocking out three of his teeth.

Unbelievably, the referee deemed that Battiston was not even fouled. Still, Schumacher later offered to pay for the French defender's dental work. Nice of him...


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9. Freddie Sears disallowed goal - Bristol City v Crystal Palace (2009)

On-loan striker Freddie Sears seemed to have scored a legitimate goal for Palace against Bristol City at Ashton Gate. Julian Speroni's long clearance up-field was flicked on by Alassane N'Diaye into the path of Sears.

The forward neatly volleyed into the net but the ball rebounded off the stanchion and back out into play. Sears and the rest of his team-mates wheeled away in celebration but referee Rob Shoebridge consulted his officials before disallowing the goal.

Even Bristol City boss Gary Johnson admitted that it should have stood. "It was a goal of course," he said, "but I don't see what I could have done about it at the time." 


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10. Graham Poll's three yellow cards - Australia v Croatia (2006)

Englishman Graham Poll was selected as a main referee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and was even favourite to referee the final before a humiliating blunder in the Australia v Croatia clash that would decide the second qualifier out of group F.

Poll awarded European Josip Simunic three yellow cards before finally sending him off.

Unsurprisingly, Poll did not referee the final. Indeed, he was packed off home after the match and retired from refereeing soon after, citing sleepless nights worrying that he might make the same mistake again.

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