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Worst Referees in Football History

Mon 30 November 2020 | 12:30

Are you one of those people for whom the referee of their favorite team's match is important? What are the characteristics of a good or bad referee? In this article, we want to introduce you to the worst referees in football history.

A football game, regardless of the two teams participating in it, has moments and features that can make the game memorable in terms of a high level or low level of quality. One of these main and decisive features is the referee. A referee can be as important and influential as the arrangement of the players or their eagerness. But what is the criterion for a referee to be good or bad? This criterion is quite relative. A referee can be both good and bad at the same time. He can be to the detriment of the rival team, while he can be to the advantage of the other. Nothing is for sure. 

But in the history of football, there have always been referees who, with bad and even strange decisions, have registered their names as

the worst referees in the football history

. The worst performance of referees in the history of football will remain in the minds of all fans for a long time and is unlikely to be compensated.

Worst Soccer referees ever

Since we all believe in the essential role of refereeing a game, this article is going to examine the

Worst Refereeing Decisions in Football History


Byron Moreno

This Ecuadorian man with no doubt is one of the worst referees in football history. His life is tied to scandals. He was the disgraceful referee of the match between Italy and South Korea in the 2002 World Cup. Byron with his awfully wrong decisions made that game one of the most questionable moments in football history. His first conscious mistake was when he rejected two goals of Italy and then sent off Francesco Totti to guarantee South Korea's safe exit to the quarterfinals. 

Following his unforgettable mistakes, in September 2002 Ecuadorian football authorities summoned and investigated him due to controversies in Japan, Italy, and South America over the past few months. Even FIFA summoned him due to his timekeeping errors in a match he officiated between Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito and Barcelona Sporting Club.

His scandals don't end here, On 21 September 2010 he was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, trying to smuggle six kilograms (over thirteen pounds) of heroin, which was hidden in his underwear. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. 

Tom Henning Ovrebo

The famous referee of the




match is our second-worst referees in football history. Tom Hanning is a Norwegian former arbiter who had several experiences in different matches in the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Champions League. He has also worked as a psychologist outside football. But what entitled him to one of the

worst soccer referees ever

On 6 May 2009, he was appointed as the referee of the match between Chelsea and Barcelona. The match ended 1-1. but Henning showed some worst refereeing decisions in football history that made Chelsea's player so angry to physically abuse him. During the match, he turned down several penalty appeals for Chelsea. He overlooked five crystal clear penalties for Chelsea. 

Due to his questionable performances, during the match, he was verbally abused by several Chelsea players, including Didier Drogba, José Bosingwa, and Michael Ballack. Receiving several death threats, he was escorted out of England by police in fears for his safety. In 2018 he told Marca: "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 are not at the level you should be. But no, I can’t be proud of that performance."

Gamal Al-Ghandour

Gamal Mahmoud Ahmed El-Ghandour the retired Egyptian referee, is the next

worst referees in football history.

He was mainly infamous for his weak performances during the 2002 World Cup quarterfinal between Spain and South Korea. Before refereeing the controversial match between

South Korea



, he had arbitered some international matches. El-Ghandour refereed the 2002 African Cup of Nations final (Cameroon vs Senegal), the second leg of the 2002 African Cup Winners' Cup final , and five continuous African Cup of Nations, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002. He is the first African referee to arbiter a match in the UEFA European Football Championship. He has also cooperated in one Olympic Games, one FIFA Confederation Cup (2001), and one AFC Asian Cup. 

So, despite the general believes, he was not that much novice in international games. During the match between Spain and South Korea he terribly disallowed two Spanish goals and his linesmen—one Ugandan, the other Trinidadian—judged one Spanish attack after another to be offside. 

Mourad Daami

Mourad Daami is a retired Tunisianfootball referee. He is known as one of the worst referees in football history. During the final match of the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations between


and Cameron, the referee did not see the kick of Victor Ikpeba. Mourad by his poor decision made him one of the worst football referees in history, that Nigeria- the host- lost the game to Cameron.

Stuart Attwell

The one and only culprit of a ghost goal in a match is the referee. Stuart Attwell showed one of the

worst referee performances in football history.

In a Championship game between




on 20 September 2008, the assistant of Attwell wrongly flagged for a goal instead of a corner kick and Attwell approved him. That conflict led to both Attwell and Bannister being dismissed from their duties the following weekend. Atwell in 2008 was the youngest person ever to referee in the Premier League, but by his wrong decision, he made him one of the worst referees in football history. 

Jorge Larrionda

Speaking oh Ghost Goal we all remember the famous ghost goal of Frank Lampard. Jorge Larrionda was the referee of the match between




in the world cup 2010.  On 27 June 2010, England were playing Germany in the knockout round of the 2010 World Cup in Bloemfontein. In the 38th minutes of the match,  53 seconds after Matthew Upson's goal for England, Frank Lampard shot the ball. The ball hit the underside of the crossbar but returned back into the field of play due to backspin, to everyone's surprise, the ball didn't hit the net, but neither the referee nor his side assistant was in the proper position to award the goal. If the referee would have awarded the goal, England would have drawn level at 2–2. Germany.  Although Larrionda showed one of the worst referee performances in football history, due to his mistake we now have the VAR.

Ali Bin Nasser

The next one on our list of the

worst football referees in history

is Ali Bin Nasser who got infamous after his controversial decision in the match between Argentine and England.  It was on 22 June 1986, at the end of the first half of the match, the game ended in a 0-0 draw. it was the sixth minutes of the second half that Maradona beat the ball out of the box with his left foot and passed it to teammate Jorge Valdano. Valdano managed to dribble some English defenders, but eventually, the ball was backed to the English goal by English defender Steve Hodge. 


stood up alone inside the penalty area, throwing the ball to Peter Shelton's goal, who was 20 cm away from Maradona. Shelton jumped forward with his right hand, while Maradona did so with his left. Maradona's fist, which was close to his head, first touched the ball and hit the ball towards the English goal. Maradona began to celebrate as he looked to the sidelines referee and the linesman confirm.

Ali Bin Nasser did not have a clear view of the game and as the video's assistant referee did not yet exist, the game ended in a 2-1 victory for the Argentines, thanks to Maradona's second goal, known as the "Goal of the Century. 

Later Bin Nasser said at that critical moment, he waited for a flag from Dochev- the assistant- of a handball, but since he did nothing, he awarded the goal. As evidence of his statement, the recorded video had been watched again, as it shows Bin Nasser looking at him after the goal expectantly. However, Dochev blamed Bin Nasser, declaring that the assistant referees were not allowed by FIFA to discuss decisions with referees: whatever the referee decided was final. according to him, Bin Nasser's inexperience at the highest levels of football in the World Cup was to blame.

Howard Webb

Howard Webb is an English former professional football referee. He is included amongst the all-time top referees by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics.  In 2010, he became the first person to referee the finals of both the UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup in the same year. with all his professional achievement, he made a mistake that made him one of the

worst referees in soccer of all time

But what did he do? that is a general belief that almost often, some referees award penalities in favor of

Man United

in their home ground. in April of 2009 the famous referee award the Red Devils an unfair penalty, since then he added his name to the list of the worst referees in football history. 

At the half time of the match, The Spurs had the 2-0 lead. Everything was going well until when the referee made an unbelievable mistake. Webb stated that


goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes tripped up Michael Carrick in the box and gave United a penalty. The replays of the crime scene and also the photos proved that there was no sign of penalty. According to FIFA if the keeper makes any contact with the ball first, then it is not a penalty. So based on the evidence Webb did make a questionable choice. 

Koman Coulibaly

Koman Coulibaly is a Malian football referee. He began his refereeing career in 1994 and has been a full international referee for FIFA since 1999. With all his years of experience, he is one of the worst referees in football history.  As one of 32 referees selected for the tournament and one of four African officials, he was selected to participate in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in October 2008. So far so good, but what was his fatal mistake?

He was appointed as the referee of the match between




from group C On 18 June 2010. In the 86th minute, Coulibaly declared a foul against the U.S. that rejected an apparent goal by Maurice Edu that would have put the Americans ahead 3–2, which ended in a 2–2 draw. The decision was publicly criticized in the international sports press.  During the match, the commentators of ESPN said that the goal was offside and the decision of the referee was right. But after reviewing the replays they stated that the goal was right and it was not at all offside. 

After that match, Coulibaly was not chosen to officiate in any subsequent matches of the tournament and was included in a speech from FIFA President Sepp Blatter that acknowledged that there were some problems with the referees at the 2010 World Cup.

Felix Brych

Felix Brych by his awful discretion put his name as one of the worst referees in soccer of all time, though he is considered one of the highest-ranked European referees of his generation. On 18 November 2009, in extra time, 17 minutes before the match's end French captain Thierry Henry set a goal by his hand and sent


to the 2010 World Cup. His cheat was a real slap in the face of every Irish person who was the game in shock and hatred. after the match Thierry Henry confessed to the Irish defender Richard Dunne that he had illegally handled the ball. The Football Association of Ireland and the Government of Ireland complained to FIFA, they wanted the game to be replayed but they couldn't do anything. This decision was one of the cruelest ones. 

Graham Poll

As football fans, we all know the ever rivalry between


and Tottenham.The matches between these two sides were always full of excitement and controversies. But that particular match was all different. Graham Poll the referee of the match made a mistake and so named himself as one of the

worst referees in football history

. Graham Poll is considered the best English referee of the last 25 years in a list prepared by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics and also e was considered as one of the most prominent referees.

In the final minute of the Goodison derby, the referee got into deep trouble. Everyone expected the referee to whistle and end the game as the Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld set the ball down to take a goal kick for Liverpool. The kick was bounced off the back of Don Hutchison and went into the net, giving Everton a 1-0 win. But the referee didn't accept the goal. He stated that the ball had not crossed the line before he has blown for full-time. In fact he never blew his whistle. 

After the match, he said: "I looked at my watch and saw that it was the last kick of the game,". "We had had the correct amount of time for stoppages so I blew. I blew for a time as he kicked the ball but some of the Everton players got excited as happens in derby games. But I was very clear in my own mind."

Antonio Mateu Lahoz

The other worst referees in football history, is Lahoz who scared Pep Guardiola the most.  Antonio Mateu Lahoz was the referee of the match between

Manchester City



. But what was his fault?

His poor performances made Pep worried and deep down maybe he never wanted to encounter him again. But it didn't happen. He was set for the match between City and Liverpool in 2018.

Lahoz is known for his talkative and "quirky" approach to refereeing and his character is a bit bizarre for a referee, for instance, he showed up in stadiums wearing sunglasses and giving thumbs-ups to the fans – winked at the camera pre-game and then bizarrely produced six yellow cards during a match which simply wasn’t dirty enough to read them.

During the match between Man City and Monaco, his weird and weak performance got worst as he disallowed Leroy Sane's goal for offside and then as Pep protested the referee sent him sent off to the stands.

As the match finished, Pep Guardiola commented on the referee and said that:  “whenever people see things, he will decide the opposite”, which seemed to be a calmer response than some City fans, with one stating that the Spaniard’s officiating job had been “pathetic”, I said it was a goal. I didn’t insult him, I was polite, I was correct, But Mateu Lahoz is a special guy, he likes to be different, he likes to be special.”

The job of refereeing in football is undoubtedly one of the most sensitive ones. Not because of its physical difficulty, but because of its fanatical fans. The outcome and destiny of a team can completely change with the poor decisions of a referee. In this article, we briefly mention some of the awful mistakes of the worst referees in football history. If you have any experience of refereeing mistakes, share with us in the comment section.

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source: SportMob