Watching the Chelsea against Liverpool match on Fox Soccer Channel courtesy of TWI, commentators Ian Darke and Robbie Earle were puzzled whether Chelsea’s Michael Essien was awarded two yellow cards without being sent off or not.
At first, they seemed sure the mistake had happened. Then later, after receiving confirmation from assistant referee Phil Dowd, they appeared to change their mind and believe that referee Rob Styles had shown the yellow card to John Terry.
Problem solved, or so we thought.
After the match ended, I went back through the tapes to see what I could uncover. Essien received his first yellow card early in the first half after fouling Liverpool’s Arbeloa. Then around the 74th minute, Styles brandished Terry with a yellow card for JT’s reaction to Fernando Torres crashing into Ben Haim. Watching the game in slow motion, it’s clear to see that Styles then went ahead and awarded a yellow card (his second) to Essien presumably for standing in front of the resulting free kick that Torres was trying to take. That yellow card, without a doubt, was not intended for Terry and Essien should have been sent off. No questions about it.
According to The Guardian newspaper, the head of Professional Game Match Officials Keith Hackett said, “I have been informed that Styles was adamant he issued the yellow card to John Terry,” added Hackett. “I can tell you that John Smart, from Sky television, said to the fourth official, ‘The guys upstairs are saying that he’s cautioned Essien twice.’ At that point Phil Dowd went back to Rob Styles and said, ‘Will you please confirm to me the player you have cautioned?’ He quite clearly stated it was John Terry. Dowd asked the question again. They are adamant John Terry was cautioned.”
Clearly Styles was either completely confused or is trying to hide the fact that he made a blatant mistake. Styles already faces a week away from refereeing Premier League matches, which may be extended to one month. But with the critical mistake of awarding Essien two yellow cards without sending him off, you have to wonder whether Styles’s “ban” will be longer.
Sure, everyone makes mistakes but two crucial mistakes in one game cost Liverpool two valuable points.