Summer 1996. The gold medal match at the 1996 olympics - Nigeria vs. Argentina. Referee: Pierluigi Collina. Argentina score first, Nigeria equalise. Half-time. Then Ortega (Arg.) theatrically falls inside Nigeria's penalty-area (liverpool's Suarez should envy Ortega), and is awarded a penalty-kick out of the blue which Crespo converts. Then Nigeria equalise again, and in the 90th minute get a free-kick outside Argentina's penalty-area. When the ball is crossed into the box, at least two Nigerians were offside. A third one, Amuneke, controls the ball and scores the decisive goal. The Argentine penalty - a clear mistake while the ar on the near side (Mr. Lencie Fred) who has a perfect view of the incident doesn't intervene. The third Nigerian goal - in those days many would have interpreted the situation as an active offside. Mr. Peter Kelly, the ar on that side of the field didn't think so, and Nigeria became the first (and till now, the only) African national team to win an Olympic gold in football. His terrible mistake in the 50th minute and the controversial goal at the end, didn't hinder Mr. Collina's career as he steered forward to become a kind of icon and celebrity figure. Now, as chief refereeing officer at UEFA he has to deal with many 2013 replicas of Collina 1996. The most similar is certainly the "Thomson case".
When your ars drag you down
Let's say it clearly: Whenever and wherever Mr. Thomson had to decide independently, there was little to criticise him for. The sole case where his decision was dubious is the booking of Gamez (Malaga, 62'). Actually the player was struck by Schmeltzer (Dortmund) who had been cautioned just two minutes earlier for a reckless foul. It seems Mr. Thomson didn't understand the situation correctly, thus punishing the wrong man (either for diving or protesting). The incident took place in front of fourth official Chambers and not too far from ar Rose, but neither was helpful. It was neither Mr. Rose's first mistake of the evening, nor his last. He had a dreadful night, turning a blind eye (together with Mr. Thomson) to a series throw-in infringements by Piszczek (Dortmund) who never delivers the throw-in with both hands, but rather with "hand-after-hand", a technique which enables him to reach a longer distance. Then there were faulty throw-in decisions (38', 45' - the first one was a blatant mistake), and compounding all these with allowing the second Malaga stay (82') although Eliseu came from an offside position to net the ball in. Until 90 minutes were over, Mr. Ross, on the other end of the field, had acted with no blemish. But then, in the most crucial moments, he faltered. At 2-2, when Dortmund crossed the ball from left into the Malaga penalty-area (90'+2'), four of the German side's players were offside, but the flag wasn't raised even when one of them was able to hold the ball and play it. Two or three phases later Mr. Ross had a "second chance", when, after a skirmish, Santana (Dort.) scored from a very close range after being offside when the ball was delivered to him. No offside flag yet again (in this case, aar Clancy, who was very alert on the goal-line, just a few meters away, could have been of great help, had he called for offside). Borussia Dortmund 3, Malaga 2. The prospects of watching Mr. Thomson on our screens when WC 2014 gets under way, have suffered a huge blow, probably a knock-out (the Scots should call Hugh Dallas immediately to try to "rescue" them)