UEFA has missed the boat once again, this time in their handling of Wednesday’s controversial red card to Paris Saint Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Instead of sending off the Swedish international, referee Bjorn Kuipers and Chelsea midfielder Oscar should be the ones facing disciplinary action instead of the Ibrahimovic. The Dutch official and his reactionary, completely unwarranted knee-jerk dismissal of Ibrahimovic, for the forward’s challenge on Oscar, needs to be reviewed by UEFA and any future match appointments reconsidered.
Most saw the foul by Ibrahimovic as a yellow card (if that), since there was no intent to injure his Brazilian opponent coupled with the fact the PSG forward pulled out of the tackle before making contact with Oscar. While most didn’t buy the unconvincing theatrics of Oscar referee Kuipers fell for the stunt hook, line and sinker.
Quite frankly Oscar is actually the one who deserves suspension for his blatant unsportsmanlike conduct and play-acting after the two players collided at the top of the penalty area in the 31st minute of their Round of 16 Champions League clash at London’s Stamford Bridge. Kuipers match-sapping red card came as a complete surprise to the massive global audience tuned into the match and even the most Chelsea-biased or pro-English observers.
Match commentators on both ESPN and SkySports immediately questioned the ridiculous decision by Kuipers to give Ibrahimovic his early marching orders. The referee had failed to punish several serious offenses that had occurred prior to the Ibrahimovic-Oscar clash, so the decision seemed completely unjustified. Furthermore Kuipers appeared not to consult any of his assistants about the foul, or wait to see the extent of Oscar’s apparently non-existent injury before quickly reaching for a red card. Another reason for UEFA to give this incident a closer look.
Despite playing a man short for the remainder of the game, PSG went on to score an injury-time equalizer and advance to the quarter-final round. The end result and elimination of the Premier League leaders clearly blunted the outcry of outrage. Ibrahimovic still couldn’t believe the decision and famously branded Chelsea’s players as “babies” for swarming Kuipers and urging him to brandish the red card.
“I don’t know if I have to get angry or start to laugh. For me when I saw the red card I was like ‘the guy doesn’t know what he’s doing’,” ~ PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
It’s not the first time Kuipers has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. In November Kuipers’ baffling decision to give Liverpool substitute Lazar Markovic a straight red card for a seemingly harmless push-off on opponent Behrang Safari which ended the Merseyside club’s Champions League campaign against FC Basel. At the 2014 World Cup, Kuipers earned an honourable mention in our Six Pack of referee bloopers when decided to take no action when Switzerland’s Steve Von Bergen was kicked in the head by opponent Olivier Giroud of France.
On Thursday, UEFA announced Ibrahimovic could face further punishment for his sending off. The governing body will meet on March 19 to determine the full length of his ban.
Their handling of this matter falls way short of what the fans demand and proves once again - just as with FIFA, Europe’s governing body is out of touch with reality. UEFA clearly needs to address the conduct of both Kuipers and Oscar if it wants to retain any shred of confidence from the global football community.
For those of you who missed the play here is a Youtube video post of the incident: