Chelsea v barcelona match was funny last night. So hot tempered, so many critical referee decisions. And inevitably one loosing team in fury at the referee, and the following press backlash afterwards.
Had Barcelona not scored the 93rd minute goal, they and the spanish/catalan press would undoubtable been slaughtering the referee instead. With that many match changing events, the sending off, the 4-5 penalty claims, the referee was in a lose-lose situation. The loosing team would always cry foul.
Viewing each situation individually and in isolation on their own, I can pretty much understand why the referee made his decisions. None were clear cut, they were all grey zone of interpretation and human nature. So basically I could have understood a decision the other way as well in most of the events. It is just a shame there were so many of them. If only one of the events happened I don't think we would have this aftermath.
Chelsea are throwing their toys out of the pram, because most went against them. That they did, does not mean the referee was wrong, it may indicate he was strong enough not to be influenced by previous events in the match? He certainly did not flinch when Chelsea players went berserk, a weaker referee would have been terrified.
So what about the decisions?:
First of all the sending off of Abidal. A decision that should by the way kill all speculation of conspiracy theory from the Chelski fans. Did he touch Anelka so he fell? Yes. Did he mean to? Probably not. Was he the last man? Think so. So even if it was unintentional, even it was only a slight flick on Anelka's trailing leg, it was still a foul. And as it looked like he was the last man, and Anelka was about to go clean on through, technically he should get the red card. Most ref's here do chicken out and only give a yellow, which most people agree is the morally correct thing, however acording to the book red is correct. Chelsea would have cried foul if not, and UEFA would have not been pleased with Øvrebø if had not shown the red card, as referees are not allowed to use common sense.
For all the potential fouls on Chelsea players, I think they were all pretty clear and correct decision by the referee. Toure's tacle on Drogba in the box was clean, the wrestling match outside the box was 50-50 each way. The pull down of Malouda clearly started outside the box, even though the significant part of the foul was later inside, which is irrelevant. But even if it was 5cm inside, the referee does not have a ruler with him, so people can't expect a match killing decision like that. I think 90% of on the boxline fouls will be free-kicks.
Most other times was just the normal diving by Drogba, which makes it difficult to referee as you are never sure when Drogba cries wolf.
As for the two handball incidents, they are not so clearcut. Both times by Pique and Eto'o their hands was not in motion, they had no time to remove their arm, but neither was in a "natural" position. Was it accidental ball to hand? I certainly would have not disagreed had they been penalties, but I would thought it be very unfair. But perhaps technically they should have been? But again they are a toss up, greyzones either way, and as expected the loosing teams get upset.
But even if you had 3 penalty claims go against you, it does not mean the next dubious must go your way, they should all be assesed individually!
So I think the referee got it right. Had one of the handballs gone Chelsea's way I would have not disagreed, but like the sending off, I would have thought it was very harsh, but I could understand why. So perhaps Chelsea should have had at least one penalty.
BUT, what is a disgrace is Chelsea and their players and staff and the English Press.
How they let their players behave like enraged animals like Ballack and Drogba is a real disgrace, and for not condemming it afterwards. I must credit John Terry for restraining himself and trying to restrains his players on the pitch, which is unusual of him, however his undignified and bullying comments in the press afterwards highlights that he still has a lot to learn.
Guus Hiddink, a great manager, may still have his own adranaline pumping afterwards, but he even said himself that he is not biased, but think they should have had 3 penalties. Come on! Only the handballs were an actual contention, and then only in a biased way could you say they must have be given. And the unforgivable is his defense of his players behaviour. Shameful.
The Chelsea players' and manager's belittling and bullying of the referee afterwards shows why most people dislike Chelsea.
Chelsea did not deserve it
Really when in a Champions League semi-final you have a one man advantage for a significant part of the match, if you do not score a goal in normal play, nevermind penalties, and even let a goal in, you do are not good enough to be in the Final!
And they wanted to win by dodgy handball penalties instead? That is not football, they were not intentional, Chelsea should try to play and win by playing football!
Another disgrace is the English press.
How they hound all referee's in every big match they loose. Have they not forgotten they stoked the fire so much that Anders Frisk had to retire? How they bullyed and harrased every referee when England gets knocked out of every World Cup or Euros. Having lived in England for 15 years it is always amusing but also disturbing how the press put all blame on the referee and not their own teams inadequasies.
It is such a shame, as Øvrebø is actual a really good referee. (Which I must admit even if he wrongly sent of one my teams players last season.) He is experienced in CL with 20+ matches, World Cup experience, and unflinchingly strong, which is probably why UEFA picked him. Unfortunetly the English press, the bad loosers at Chelsea, and UEFA weakness will probably mean it will be awhile before he gets a big game again.
So in football, for big matches with a lot at stake, how you feel about the referee, FIFA/EUFA or organisers, depends entirely on which team you supported and whom won. but even full of adrenaline and emotions there are limits to acceptable behaviour.