Six biggest referee blunders in football after AFCON official causes carnage

Africa Cup of Nations referee Janny Sikazwe shocked viewers with a surreal blunder during the clash between Tunisia and Mali on Wednesday.

In extraordinary scenes, the Zambian official decided to blow for full-time in the 85th minute, stunning fans, managers and players alike.

He quickly realised his error and re-started the match, but sparked outrage when he ended the match too soon once more, blowing his whistle 15 seconds before the 90th minute and not allowing any stoppage time.

The embarrassing gaffe unsurprisingly sparked outrage from Tunisia, who were 1-0 down, before both sides were re-called from the changing rooms in order to complete an unforgettable match.

But while Sikazwe’s blunder was certainly one of the first we have seen of its kind, he is certainly not the first referee to made costly and dodgy decisions on the big stage.

Chamberlain or Gibbs?

English referee Andre Marriner is one of the most-respected officials in the Premier League, but even he was guilty of a shocking mistake once during a high-stakes London derby.

In a Stamford Bridge clash between Arsenal and Chelsea in 2014, Eden Hazard’s goal-bound strike was heroically palmed away by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in a save that any keeper would have been proud of.

But rather than sending off the Ox, now of Liverpool, he gave Kieran Gibbs his marching orders for a handball he never committed.

Fans and players alike were stunned as the left-back pleaded his innocence, but Marriner would have none of it.

He eventually realised his error and was very quickly forced to apologise for mistaking the two Arsenal players.

Lampard’s ‘ghost goal’

Germany’s 4-1 win over England at the 2010 World Cup ended in a dominant victory for Die Mannschaft, but one refereeing error cost England a crucial come-back goal.

The Three Lions were 2-1 down but had the momentum in the last-16 clash, as Frank Lampard’s strike from the edge of the box hit the underside of the crossbar.

It was clear that the ball had crossed the line, but goalkeeper Manuel Neuer grasped it and referee Jorge Larrionda waved play on, to the disbelief of almost everyone in the stadium.

Germany took advantage and went on to demolish England, who felt there had been a massive injustice as they suffered another famous defeat to their rivals.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter was forced to apologise to the FA while Larrionda, along with assistant referees Maurcio Espinosa and Pablo Fandino, were told they would not be refereeing any more fixtures in the competition.

Henry handball

France were on the verge of being knocked out of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup when Arsenal legend Thierry Henry committed one of the most devastating hand-balls of all time.

The Republic of Ireland were leading France 1-0 in the second leg of the play-off when a desperate Henry controlled Florent Malouda’s free-kick with his hand in extra-time.

The Frenchman patted it again once more just to make sure before setting up William Gallas for the winner.

Swedish referee Martin Hansson, however, somehow missed both touches and paid no attention to Irish appeals, allowing the goal to stand and thus ending their World Cup dreams.

Ireland’s request for a rematch was rejected but they could at least find joy in Les Bleus suffering a torrid World Cup in South Africa marred by infighting and a shock group-stage exit.

Triple yellow card

Do you think Graham Poll's triple yellow card blunder is the worst of the lot? Let us know in the comments section.

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Referee Graham Poll made several grave errors during the 2006 World Cup in a match which the Englishman will likely never live down.

Croatia faced Australia in the group stages in an otherwise unremarkable 2-2 draw, but Poll’s performance will go down as one of the worst of all time.

The official handed Croatian Josip Simunic his second yellow card of the game in the 90th minute but forgot to send the defender off.

He brandished a third yellow card for dissent when Simunic pushed him after the final whistle, before finally remembering to show him a red.

The Englishman was sent home from the tournament immediately after the group stages with his head hung low.

Chelsea v Barcelona

Chelsea were by all accounts robbed of a win in an infamous 2009 Champions League semi-final clash with Barcelona.

Referee Tom Henning Ovrebo made a number of shocking decisions, including failing to award several blatant penalties which would have seen the Blues progress into the final.

His poor display incensed a number of Chelsea players, before striker Didier Drogba launched a foul-mouthed rant on live TV following the final whistle.

After seeing the footage of his misjudgements, the Norwegian ref said: “I can’t be proud of that performance. They were handball situations. I judged them on the pitch and I think it is not interesting to know what I think of those actions once judged.

“I was responsible for the decisions that were made and we can argue that, if I had taken others, maybe Chelsea would have qualified for the final. We will never know.”

Hand of God

No list of refereeing errors is complete without the legendary ‘hand of God’ incident at the 1986 World Cup.

With the high-stakes quarter-final match between England and Argentina tied at 0-0 in the second-half, the ball dropped in the air between Diego Maradona and goalkeeper Peter Shilton.

Any goalkeeper would have expected to beat the diminutive forward to the ball by simply catching it, but the Argentina captain had other ideas, creating a fist and knocking the ball goal-wards while giving the illusion of a header.

Tunisian referee Ali Bennaceur missed the incident completely and after protests by the England players consulted his assistant, who let the goal stand.

Argentina went on to win the match 2-1, knocking out England in heart-breaking fashion.

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