8 of The Most Controversial Referee Decisions After Tunisia vs Mali Blunder

8 of The Most Controversial Referee Decisions After Tunisia vs Mali Blunder

Rene Otinga
updated at April 12, 2023 at 7:54 PM

The football world was treated to one of the most farcical refereeing decisions in modern history, and it happened to take place in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Janny Sikazwe
Head of referees at AFCON disclosed after the chaotic clash that Sikazwe had suffered heatstroke and needed medical attention.
Source: Getty Images

Janny Sikazwe, the match official in charge of the Group F clash involving Tunisia and Mali, was at the centre of controversy for blowing for full time before 90 minutes not once but twice.

His refereeing triggered a string of follow up events, including Tunisia moving to the Caf to appeal the officiating.

Caf has since released a statement confirming it had tossed out Tunisia’s complaints, and the North Africans will now have to move on quickly and focus on their next game which will be against Mauritania on January 16.

While Sikazwe’s errors were as blatant as they were embarrassing, he is not the first high profile referee to make a controversial, possibly match-altering call on the pitch.

Sportsbrief takes a look at some of the most infamous, controversial refereeing decisions in high-stake matches.

Some of the match officials involved in this list actually had to issue apologies for their decisions, years later.

1. Everton vs Newcastle: Premier League 2018

In a 2018 Premier League clash involving Everton and Newcastle, Phil Jagielka handled the ball inside the box but referee Bobby Madley somehow failed to award a penalty.

Madley admitted he did not see it and his reaction to the backclash from Newcastle players went viral on social media.

2. Australia vs Croatia: World Cup 2006

This game produced one of the most infamous refereeing decisions of all time.

Referee Graham Poll somehow booked Croatian Josip Simunic three times, before eventually sending him off after the full-time whistle. Madness.

3. Chelsea vs Barcelona: Champions League semi-final 2009

Remember when Didier Drogba yelled at the camera “It’s a disgrace, It’s a disgrace”.?

This was in 2009, during a Champions League semi-final tie that Chelsea fans will not forget anytime soon.

The game was full of controversial moments, and Chelsea had a number of penalty appeals go against them.

A memorable moment during the game was when Michael Ballack frantically ran next to the referee Tom Henning Ovrebo arguing his case after the official failed to spot an obvious handball in the box.

After the game, Ovrebo spoke to Marca about the game, saying it was not his best performance.

“It was not my best day, really. But those mistakes can be committed by a referee ... and sometimes a player or a coach. Some days you're not at the level you should be. But no, I can't be proud of that performance."

4. Chelsea vs Arsenal: Premier League 2014

This was another of the classic Mourinho-Wenger rivalry and it produced a bizarre moment that will go down in Premier League history.

In a case of mistaken identity, referee Andre Marriner sent off Kieran Gibbs for a blatant handball when it was in fact Alex Oxlade Chamberlain who was the culprit.

5. Nantes vs Paris Saint-Germain: Ligue 1 2018

In another case of bizarre refereeing, this Ligue 1 game saw a poor moment from the referee’s perspective.

It all sparked off when the ref, Tony Chapron, had his leg tangled with Nantes player Diego Carlos accidentally.

The ref went down on the ground and bizarrely hit back at the player, kicking at him before brandishing a second yellow card for a foul on himself.

Chapron later apologized for the incident after outrage from the Nantes hierarchy including president Waldemar Kita.

6. Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid: La Liga 2014

In an iconic La Liga title race, the final game between the Blaugrana and Atletico was going to be the decider.

It was a game of high stakes, with Atletico only three points ahead of Barca, who had a superior goal difference.

With the game finely poised at 1-1, Lionel Messi appeared to have given his side the lead but his goal was chopped off for offside.

The match officials maintained the decisions despite replays clearly showing the Argentine was onside.

It ended in a draw and Barcelona, under boss Tata Martino finished the season with 0 major trophies.

7. Manchester United vs Arsenal: Premier League 2009

In the 2000s, there was not a more iconic rivalry than Manchester United vs Arsenal.

Their Premier League clash in 2009 however produced a controversial refereeing moment as Robin Van Persie had a goal chalked out when it looked like the Dutchman had equalized a highly engaging contest.

Replays showed that Van Persie was in fact, onside and referee Mike Dean and fourth official Lee Probert came under intense crutiny.

8. Holland vs Spain: World Cup final 2010

This game needs no introduction, being a World Cup final.

While Andres Iniesta’s strike will be the most memorable part of the final, there was a controversial moment as Netherland’s Nigel de Jong launched a flying kick into the chest of Spain's Xabi Alonso but somehow managed to avoid a red card.

Lucky for Spain, they won the World Cup and the incident was quickly forgotten.

Rene Otinga photo
Rene Otinga
Rene Otinga is a sports journalist with over eight years of working experience in digital media. Rene's experience includes working as a Copywriter at X News Kenya and TUKO.co.ke.