8 Worst Ref Calls Ever Made in Soccer

No matter what the sport, there are always going to be contentious actions by referees. These individuals are called to act on their own judgements during games, with no jury and no long time available for contemplation. These split-second decisions are made in order to honor the integrity of the game being played, so it’s no surprise at all that audiences, fans and the press will often disagree with the decisions made. Sometimes the refs are right, sometimes the refs are wrong – and sometimes, the refs are so horribly wrong that it’s hard to believe.

Let’s take a look at some of the worst calls ever made by soccer refs.

1. Graham Poll’s Big Mistake

Back in 2006, Graham Poll caused controversy, despite being highly respected and well-known. He had previously refereed two games at the 2006 World Cup for soccer, and did exceptionally well – so he was expected to be the referee for the final.

In a shocking twist, however, during the last match between Australia and Croatia, Poll didn’t send off Josip Suminuc, the Croatian team’s left back. The player should have been sent off, given he had already been booked twice, and when he stayed on the field, he continued misbehaving and eventually was given a red card.

As a result, Poll retired after the next season. He had been mocked endlessly for his bad decision making and never returned to the profession. Ouch!


2. Ireland’s Karmic Revenge

Another World Cup mishap took place in 2009, during a soccer match between the Republic of Ireland and France. This was a World Cup playoff decider game and it ended with France and Ireland drawing 1-1. The match went onto a free-kick, and the referee, Martin Hansson, failed to spot the free kick being handled, in two movements, by Thierry Henry of France. He crossed William Gallas to make the score, and everyone seemed to notice it except the referee.

Eventually, Henry admitted that he did wrong when talking to the Irish defender Richard Dunne – but only after the final whistle was blown. The losing team were not happy, but they got a little justice when France was destroyed in the later World Cup games. Their player Nicolas Anelka was expelled from the team, and players even started boycotting training. Karma’s a you-know-what.

3. Schumacher’s Coma-Inducing Foul

Back in 1982, during a West Germany and France game, Harold Schumacher committed possibly the worst foul of all time. French defender Patrick Battiston managed to hold onto a through ball and got straight past Schumacher, who then ignored the ball and ended up running right into his opponent. Battiston then lay on the ground, completely motionless.

Why? Well, he damaged his vertebrae, had three teeth knocked out and was completely unconscious. The player had to be revived using oxygen, but that wasn’t the end of the poor man’s ordeal – he fell into a coma!

The referee not only didn’t send Schumacher off the pitch, he didn’t even give the other team a free kick, which is standard practice in soccer games when there’s a foul. Referee Corver’s lack of action has gone down in history, and West Germany went on to win this game and move forward into the World Cup Final.

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