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Arsene Wenger Slams Referees After Graham Poll Highlights Weaknesses in Officials


It was on Monday night, when Graham Poll was speaking live on Setanta Sports in the aftermath of John Terry’s controversial dismissal against Everton, that a serious weakness in top flight referees was revealed.

Poll claimed that even the best of officials find it extremely hard to send off big-name players, and that it is more difficult to show a red card to the England captain than it is to a youngster just breaking through the ranks.

Poll said that in the moments before a referee sends off a high-profile player, thoughts always rush through their minds about the consequences of their decision. All the controversy. All the talk in the media. Maybe all the criticism they would receive. Fair enough – they are only human.

The problem, however, is not when referees just think of these consequences, but when they actually take of their mind so much that they eventually duck out of punishing the player appropriately.

Graham Poll admitted the following evening, when speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, that in the early part of his refereeing career he let that happen to himself. If it happened to him, one of the best officials the Premier League has seen in recent times, then it must be happening to many young referees at the moment as well. That is a serious worry.

There was always bound to be some angry reaction to Poll’s revelations, and Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, provided it in his press conference yesterday.

“For me it was embarrassing when you listen to that,” thundered Wenger.

“They ask whether it was a sending-off or not. He says you have to consider that you are sending off the captain of the national team.”

“What has that got to do with the rulebook? The rulebook doesn’t look at passports. When you listen to that it is embarrassing for the referees.”

“Is it a sending-off or not? Are you from England or not from England? Are you 17 or 30? It has nothing to do with that.”

“It is a big concern when you hear the national number one referee talk like that.”

It certainly is.

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  1. Willy Asiimwe

    March 6, 2013 at 11:29 am

    A referee is a player as others on the pitch. He can make wrong or correct decision depending on his understanding. We are all human . Willy Asiimwe

  2. Len

    December 30, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Don't worry about the comments above Graham. At the end of the day it's only someone's own opinion like your own, sometimes right and sometimes wrong.
    I met you in Ibiza [ Es Cana ] in 2001 and found you a really nice guy. Keep up the good work and take no notice of these armchair critics. Len.

  3. Fabregas' Dad

    December 25, 2008 at 10:55 am

    I'm an Arsenal fan but I think Wenger is really overreacting. Poll's not condoning this but he's just stating the truth as it is and for Wenger to react like this is him not accepting reality and not actually listening to what was said. Why is he concerned about this anyway? He should be focusing on the team and not this (even if the question was asked by a journalist).

  4. Chris Nee

    December 25, 2008 at 3:56 am

    So Poll only bottled big decisions in the early part of his career? I think not. Total disgrace, as always.

    Bloody rentaquote.

  5. Mrs Gallas

    December 25, 2008 at 3:54 am

    Poll is on another one of his ego trips yet again. Why Setanta even employ this moron is beyond me. I sense there were two plastic fans writing before me; obviously dont know where Wenger is coming from .

  6. Poll Is A Prat

    December 24, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Graham Poll is a senseless windbag. Wenger is right. A player's name/stature/reputation should have no bearing on whether a card is awarded. I wonder what went through Poll's mind at the 06 Cup when he awarded Josip Simunic THREE yellow cards. Simunic must have been REALLY important.

  7. Phil McThomas

    December 24, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Wenger is becoming increasingly erratic, which should worry Arsenal fans.

    I heard Poll's comments and in a nutshell, he said referees are human with human feelings – shock, horror.

    It happens in every walk of life. I'd be more careful in dealing with a client that brought in a million bucks than ten thousand. That doesn't necessarily mean preferential treatment, more like attention to detail.

  8. Sandinista

    December 24, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Wenger complaining about the referees? How unusual! Kudos to Poll for at least acknowledging that this sort of shite happens. Don't know why Wenger would complain though, Poll is obviously saying it's the wrong thing to do and has admitted his mistake. Wenger acts as if Poll is condoning the action, which is clearly is not.

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