Sports is about making and sometimes revisiting history. It is about creating and sometimes breaking records
And so 20 years ago Nigeria lost the finals of the Nations cup she co-hosted with Ghana not on account of failing to play well against finalists and eventual winners Cameroon, but on account of referee error further garnished by a player’s reaction.
Victor Ikpeba’s spot kick in the shoot-out of the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations final clearly went in, but referee Mourad Daami didn’t think so, and his poor decision cost the host nation the cup as Cameroon triumphed 4-3
Daami, the Tunisian referee who equally handled one match in the 2002 World cup hosted by Korea/Japan made the list of 30 worst referees’ decision x-rayed by fourfourtwo.
Certainly if the Ikpeba/Daami episode had not made the fourth position in the list, it would have been safe to say it was not complete, but it did. Some fans had opined then that if Ikpeba had jubilated it would have put paid to a second thought by the referee, well, all that is now history.
Argentina international Diego Maradona’s hand of God episode of 1886 cannot be absent.
Maradona’s infamous handball for Argentina, which knocked England out of the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, is perhaps the most famous (or infamous) refereeing gaffe of all time.
Interestingly it was Tunisian official Ali Bin Nasser who later blamed a haemorrhoid treatment for affecting his sight and causing him to miss it. And if you think it is all about Nations cup and world cup then a flash back to 1997 FA cup fifth round replay between Chelsea and Leicester City is worth mentioning forcing a radio commentator to describe the referee as ‘Maggot’
The tie appeared destined for penalties after two ties had failed to separate the teams, until referee Mike Reed awarded the Blues a very controversial spot kick.
Erland Johnsen went down very easily under a challenge that wasn’t there, leaving the nation enraged as Danny Baker raved on BBC Radio Five Live: “It was scandalous, an absolute scandal … football has a maggot at its golden core, and that maggot is referees.”.
Now the Video Assisted Referee (VAR) has come into the game and has recorded its own pluses and minuses perhaps. Its desirability or otherwise continues in sports circles. Can it take the blame off referees?