In recent years, referees have been in the limelight far too often, mostly for the wrong reasons. Some of these blunders have swung tournament outcomes and league title races in a matter of seconds.
This is in no way a definitive list of the worst 10 mistakes of all time, but here are some of the memorable worst refereeing decisions, all which have changed outcomes and created havoc among the media and soccer fans:
10. Frank Lampard’s ghost goal
England vs Germany (Round of 16, 2010 World Cup)
You win some and you lose some, and for Frank Lampard that was certainly the case when the England midfielder found himself involved in two refereeing blunders within a year.
During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, replays clearly showed that Lampard’s shot in the round of 16 match against Germany clearly crossed the goal line, but was not given by either the linesman or the referee. Fast forward to the Chelsea-Tottenham game of late April of 2011, replays showed that Lampard’s shot from distance against Tottenham did not cross the line completely. Nevertheless the goal was given, and Chelsea were given the equalizer just before half-time.
Lampard’s goal against Germany would have leveled the score at 2-2, and who knows what would have happened from there on. England then went on to concede twice in the second half and were 4-1 losers. It’s yet another of those ‘what if’ stories in world soccer.
9. Pedro Mendes’ goal for Tottenham
Manchester United vs Tottenham, 2005
Goalless after 88 minutes, Pedro Mendes of Tottenham Hotspur spotted Manchester United keeper Roy Carroll off his line and attempted an ambitious shot from just inside the attacking half. Carroll just got back in time to avoid making a mockery of himself, but what happened next was a moment to forget. The keeper spilled the ball into his own goal and then instantly covered up his mistake (and the goal) to scoop the ball back into play.
Spurs’ players were in disbelief, and Manchester United escaped with a dodgy point in the 0-0 draw.
When asked in an interview about the incident, Carroll said: “I got up and the stadium was very quiet afterwards. I thought it was in, but the referee and assistant never gave it. I looked at the linesman to see if it had gone over the line but it was one of those where you just carry on, as the other players did.”
A moment of brilliance from Mendes was turned into a moment of madness, courtesy Mark Clattenburg and Rob Lewis.
8. Nani’s mysterious goal against Tottenham
With Manchester United leading 1-0 in the second half against Spurs, Nani got tripped inside the box by Spurs defender Younes Kaboul.
The Portuguese winger stopped play and picked up the ball, since he thought it was a penalty. However referee Mark Clattenburg never blew his whistle to give the penalty. Everyone on the pitch naturally assumed that if there was no penalty, Tottenham now had a free kick.