Good morning folks. It was an emotional weekend in the soccer world. From triumphs like Tottenham’s Carling Cup win, to tragedy like Eduardo DaSilva’s career-threatening leg injury. From an overzealous goalkeeper striking a referee (and I use the term ‘striking’ loosely) to some title races getting tighter. You name it and last weekend had it.
I’ll start the day focusing on some rather memorable incidents involving referees in Australia, Italy and Germany this weekend. Let’s start in Australia, where Australian goalkeeper Danny Vukovic has received a 15-month suspension (which has been reduced to nine with six months probation) for making contact with referee Mark Shield at the end of the A-League championship game.
For those of you who missed it, Shield completely missed a clear handball call that should have awarded Central Coast a potential game-tying penalty kick in the dying seconds of the final, but as referees are prone to do, Shield swallowed his whistle. Vukovic wasn’t too happy about it and after protesting, proceeded to deliver an unwanted high-five to the raised hand of Shield. It was a rather harmless incident but the Australian Football Federation didn’t think so.
You make the call:
Worthy of a suspension? Probably not, though it should be noted that Vukovic will serve most of it in the A-League off-season. The only problem is the federation is considering having the ban include international competition, which would rule out Vukovic from the Olympics. The Aussies need to settle down a bit. They should worry more about a championship match that resembled a bar brawl more than a soccer match at times.
What I find interesting is how different countries handle the player-referee dynamic. Consider the Juventus-Reggina match. Juventus midfielder Momo Sissoko was whistled for a penalty foul after inexplicably trying a bicycle kick clearance in his own penalty area. Referee Paolo Dondarini awarded a penalty, but not before being accosted by Juventus defender Nicola Legrottaglie, who didn’t just make contact with Dondarini, but actually grabbed the ref’s wrist to keep him from raising his arm as he prepared to show a yellow card to Sissoko. I was shocked when Dondarini didn’t even react to being grabbed. Didn’t show a card to Legrottaglie, just went about his business.
In Germany, not only is touching a referee a major offense, even insulting one with a gesture is risky. Consider Bayern Munich midfielder Mark Van Bommel, who disagree with a call by referee Lutz Wagner. Rather than simply shout at the referee, Van Bommel tried to sneak in an "Up yours" while Wagner was walking away. Unfortunately for Van Bommel, Wagner must have known he was up to something and turned around just in time to catch him.
The scene, which must play out in schools across the country, was the funniest moment of the weekend, and has to be seen to be appreciated:
The best is Van Bommel running off the field clearly upset at being caught doing something so dumb. Who knew the Dutch midfielder was only 12 years old?
In short, don’t mess with referees.
What did you think of these incidents? Does Vukovic deserve a suspension? Did LeGrottaglie deserve at least a yellow card? Does Van Bommel deserve a week’s detention? Share your thoughts below.