My Top Five Worst Refereeing Mistakes of all Time

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Lincoln City have just been knocked out of the FA Trophy, following a highly controversial penalty decision in extra time. Of course, the referee’s decision must be final, the game’s integrity relies on it, but nevertheless there have, over the years, been some out and out howlers. Here’s my countdown of classic errors made by the men with the whistle.


5 Graham Poll

When you think of bad referee decisions, you may think of deliberate fouls that weren’t given, but what Mr Poll did in a big game between Croatia and Australia in the 2006 World Cup was unexplainable. With tough tackler Josip Simunic getting a yellow card in the opening few minutes of the match, a lot of Croatian fans held their breath as Simunic is known for the odd bad tackle and one came swiftly.

Soon after his first bad tackle, came a second and the Croatian saw a second yellow card but no red. After yet another bad tackle, he saw a third yellow card and then a deserved red card, which sent him to the showers early- what a howler by the official!

4 Ali Bin Nasser

Debatably, the most controversial refereeing decision of all time fell at a time that all English fans will remember. The 1986 World Cup was anyone’s competition as England were due to play Argentina in which would turn out to be a historic game. With the score at 0-0 and both teams looking sprightly, Diego Maradona made a dash forward to make a one-two with teammate Jorge Valdano. The ball went flying up in the air for Maradona to punch the ball over the head of Peter Shilton and leave all of the England players in shock. The referee took no notice and gave the goal despite the England players swarming the ref. Many England fans still wince when they recall that incident.

3 Jorge Larrionda

Poor England- again! You should be able to remember were you there when England played Germany in the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa. The game was tense with both teams coming close to scoring, and then came the moment which will live on in English history forever. Frank Lampard had a brilliant and audacious effort cannon off the crossbar and over the line but the ref didn’t give a goal. Stunned silence fell over both sets of fans as England, once again, were denied by the ref.

2 Charles Corver

During the 1980s, when it came to the beautiful game West Germany and France were some of the best in the business. Every encounter between the two sides got heated in one way or another but in 1982 it was taken to the next level by West Germany goalkeeper Harold Schumacher. French defender Patrick Battiston latched on to a through ball and poked it past Schumacher, who blatantly smashed straight into Patrick’s face leaving him with damaged vertebrae, three teeth knocked out. The unfortunate victim was knocked unconscious requiring oxygen from medics. With the referee not batting an eyelid, not even giving a free kick let alone a red card, predictably mayhem among the French players followed.

1 Rob Shoebridge

This was an absolute classic of its era. Back in 1980, Crystal Palace player Clive Allen hit a thunderbolt of a shot, which smashed the stanchion holding the net up. It was right in the top corner of the goal and could have been a contender for goal of the season if it wasn’t for Rob Shoebridge. Because it hit the stanchion, it came smashing out back on to the pitch and Rob Shoebridge just waved play on! This was one of the worst mistakes by a referee ever!


After this list, everyone should observe referees very closely as you may be watching a piece of history in the making!



Will, YJA Sports Correspondent

Year 6, Heighington Millfield Primary Academy

2 Responses to My Top Five Worst Refereeing Mistakes of all Time

  1. charlie March 23, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Great article Will, (as always). it is unbelievable to see that referees are making those mistakes and they are refereeing a professional football match. Well done Will keep up the good work.

  2. Will.N March 23, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Great article Will, that last mistake was terrible……. but funny!