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Worst Refereeing Decisions Of All Time

Updated on January 5, 2013

Number 5

Thierry Henry Handball Vs Ireland

It was November 2009, and after they both finished second in their group, Republic Of Ireland were playing France in a playoff for a place in the World Cup 2010.

The first leg, in Ireland, finished 1-0 to France, setting up a nail-biting second leg. Ireland took the lead in the second leg in Paris, which took the game to extra-time. With just minutes remaining before the game went to penalties, Henry handled the ball not once but twice before knocking it across for WIlliam Gallas to tap in.

The goal meant that France rather than Republic Of Ireland went to the World Cup, although Ireland later qualified for Euro 2012.

Number 4

3 Yellow Cards

It was the final group game of the 2006 World Cup between Croatia and Australia, and Josip Simunic, Croatia's Number 3, was already on a yellow card.

In the 90th minute of the game, Simunic was given a 2nd yellow card by referee Graham Poll, who then forgot to send him off. 2 minutes later Simunic received a 3rd yellow card, and was finally sent off. It was a massive mistake by Graham Poll, and meant he never refereed another World Cup game, and retired as a referee later that season.

He later revealed in his autobiography that when he gave Simunic the second yellow card, he wrote down "Australian number 3" due to his Australian accent.

Number 3

France Vs Germany Goalkeeper Foul

It was the 1982 World Cup, with the score at 1-1, in the final few minutes of Normal Time. The ball was played through to Patrick Battiston, a French defender, leaving him through on goal.

The German goalkeeper, Harald Schumacher, came rushing out of his goal and leaped for the ball, in the process smashing into Battiston, knocking him out and leaving him with 3 knocked-out teeth, a damaged vertebrae, and in a coma.

The referee gave a goal-kick to Germany.

Number 2

Hand Of God

It was the 1982 World Cup Quarter Final, and England and Argentina were level at 0-0 early in the second half.

England's left midfielder Steve Hodge attempted a clearance, but instead of clearing it, the ball went high towards the England goal. It was now a straight fight between Diego Maradona and Peter Shilton, the England goalie.

Shilton being 6 foot 1 and Maradona 5 foot 5, there was no way that Maradona would beat Shilton in the air, especially as he could use his hands. As Maradona jumped for the ball, he raised his hand and punched it into the goal.

Just 5 minutes later, Maradona scored what most people consider to be the greatest goal ever, when he went past half of the England team, including Shilton, and rolled the ball in to make it 2-0. The final score was 2-1, Argentina went on to win the World Cup, while England went home.

Maradona later said the goal was scored "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God, leading to the goal now being known as "The Hand Of God".

Number 1

Lampard Vs Germany

It was the 2010 World Cup Second Round, and arch-rivals England and Germany had been drawn to play each other for a place in the Quarter-Final.

Germany took the lead and then added a second to go 2-0 up, before Matthew Upson pulled one back in the 36th minute. Just 40 seconds later, Frank Lampard took a shot that bounced off the crossbar and over the line by at least a foot, but the referee waved play on and the linesman did not signal for a goal.

Germany went on to win 4-1, however many people argue that Germany's 2 second-half goals would never have happened had the score been 2-2 as it should have, because rather than push for the equalizer England would have played more defensively.

Germany went on to reach the semi-finals before losing to Spain, the eventual winners

Which is worst?

See results


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    • profile image

      MustReadMe 5 years ago

      I can't disagree with number one, but maybe it was a good thing since now FIFA are finally looking at goal line technology. That being said, in Germany that decision was seen as Karma 44 years later coming back to bite England. In the 1966 World Cup Final in overtime, England was awarded a goal, when the ball hit the goal line. Perhaps the most famous non-goal goal of all time.

    • STEVEW13 profile image

      Steve Wright 5 years ago from Norwich, England

      These are all absolute shockers Jamie. Schumacher should have been arrested on the spot for assault, the Henry handball robbed a group of players of arguably their one chance to every play in a world cup final, at the last moment cheated them out of 2 years of qualifying.

      You could see Lamps goal was in from row, Z and it is another huge example of why football should bring in the technology that other sports have embraced.

      The hand of God was just plain unbelievable that it wasn't spotted and blown up for.

      But I think it has to be the 3 yellow cards, showing a total lack of control over the game and not being able to tell who you are booking is a mistake that doesn't get made down the park on a Sunday morning, even with the world's worst hangover ref's still get that right.

      Another well written hub, look forward to reading more from you.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You have more patience than I do, my friend. I get too frustrated to write about bad calls in sports. I hate to see a game, match, whatever, decided by the officials making bad calls instead of the athletes on the field. The best officials are the ones you are never aware of even being there. They keep the game going. They don't change the game.

    • Horatio Plot profile image

      Horatio Plot 5 years ago from Bedfordshire, England.

      Good stuff my friend. When you do the best decisions of all time, don't forget every Englishman's favourite referee, Gottfried Dienst. Voted up.


    • leros003 profile image

      leros003 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Do this for baseball also. You may need top 100! :P

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      What a great idea for a hub topic! You could even do a series of some sort on this! Voting up and shared!

    • profile image

      harry 5 years ago

      lampard one is the worst, england wouldve won if it counted

    • jamiew12310 profile image

      jamiew12310 5 years ago

      guessing you're a chelsea fan then? That was more of a whole bad game than one bad decision, I wouldn't say any of the individual decisions were worse than any of these..

    • profile image

      adolf 5 years ago

      what about the chelsea barcelona game at stamford bridge back in 2009?

    • jamiew12310 profile image

      jamiew12310 5 years ago

      exactly and then he doesn't get a ban but Shaun Derry does for the foul on Young.

    • profile image

      koruskamil 5 years ago

      Overall I think technology should be introduced to football. In the recent game between Arsenal and Manchester City. Balotelli in the first half went into Song's knee really bad and that should have been a red right there.