Manchester City’s faint English Premier League title hopes were further scuttled after a highly questionable decision by referee Lee Probert in Saturday’s game against Everton.
With Everton leading 1-0, City were denied a penalty kick in the 86th minute when striker Carlos Tevez’ shot on goal was blocked by the arm of the Toffies’ Marouane Fellaini inside the Everton penalty area.
Probert had ruled the contact with the ball occurred outside the penalty - despite protests from City and thus awarded a free kick instead of pointing to the spot.
Probert’s controversial decision helped Manchester United build their lead top of the table lead to 15 points while also acting as one of the final nails in the coffin of City’s title hopes.
City manager Roberto Mancini followed the lead of his cross-town coaching rival Sir Alex Ferguson who remained silent after Nani’s Champions League red card, with the Citizens skipper also choosing to bite his tongue and duck out of the post-match interview.
“He’s angry and he’s taking stock of it,” Platt said. “He wants to calm down rather than say anything that will get him in trouble,” said City assistant David Platt.
On the controversial call Platt responded: “It was three yards inside the area”
CHRIS FOY’S HANDBALL TRIPLE PLAY MARRS SUNDERLAND-NORWICH CLASH
Not to be outdone by Lee Probert and Mark Halsey, referee Chris Foy made a mockery of the handball rule after three dubious decisions against Norwich in their 1-1 English Premier League draw with Sunderland on Sunday.
The first incident occurred when Goalkeeper Mark Bunn was wrongly shown a red card in the 30th minute for handling the ball outside the penalty area, attempting to clear a ball away from the Black Cats’ onrushing Danny Graham.
But television replays show the contact with Dunn’s arm was purely accidental. Bunn threw his keeper gloves to the ground in disgust as he was given his marching orders.
Then in the 38th minute Foy made another highly questionable call when he whistled Norwich centre fullback Sebastian Bassong for a handball and pointed to the penalty spot, allowing Craig Gardner to equalize for Sunderland.
In the second half Foy decided to completely change his liberal approach to the handball rule when he turned a blind eye to an obvious offence. Foy ignored Norwich’ appeals for a penalty kick in the 60th minute when Sunderland’s Danny Rose clearly handled the ball inside his area but Foy judged the offence had occurred outside the 18-yard box and instead signalled for a free kick.
The performance by Foy was so poor it left Fox Soccer Channel commentator Danny Dichio calling for Foy’s “suspension” during Monday’s Soccer Central broadcast.
TAKING CONTROL OF THE STADIUM MICROPHONE
Russian league club Terek Grozny is in hot water after the team’s honorary president took over the stadium PA system to vent his frustration at the referee after a red card in the team’s 0-0 tie with Ruban Kazan on Sunday.
Ramzan Kadyrov, also head of the Chechen Republic, called referee Mikhail Vilkov a “sellout” and “a donkey” after Rizvan Utsyev was sent off late in the game.
“I had valid reason for it. The same referee also made horrendous mistakes against our team in other league matches,” Kadyrov told Reuters after the match.
Kadyrov later apologized for seizing the stadium microphone but refused to let Vilkov off the hook.
“I want to apologise to the entire football world for my remarks but not to the referee,” he said in a post-match internet post.
The Russian FA is expected to follow with disciplinary measures after a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
A FINE MESS FOR THE SAINTS
The English FA has fined Southampton $30,300 (U.S.) for failing to control its players after a penalty decision was given against them in last week’s game against Norwich. The incident occurred after Clattenburg ruled Saints’ Luke Shaw had fouled Grand Holt inside the Southampton penalty area. Clattenburg was mobbed by Southampton players after the decision. In the end their whole dilemma could have easily been avoided if they had more confidence in their goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who stepped up and turned back Holt’s PK.
BRIGHTON’S ASHLEY BARNES FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON
First they gave him a four game suspension but then the English FA decided that wasn’t good enough, extending the ban of Brighton forward Ashley Barnes to seven games.
The Brighton forward was charged with violent conduct after he appeared to trip up referee Nigel Miller. The 23-year-old was dismissed for the second time this season. The disciplinary committee decided to increase the ban because the incident “constituted an offense whereby standard punishment that would otherwise apply was clearly insufficient”.
BANNED IN BULGARIA
Maybe UEFA and the EPL should be following the lead of the Bulgarian Football Union on how to deal with poor refereeing.
Bulgarian referee Ahmed Ahmed has been banned until the end of the season after a review of his performance in a closely contested Bulgarian Cup quarter-final match between Levski Soria and Litex Lovech on March 13, which Levski won 1-0.
Litex coach and legendary Bulgarian striker Hristo Stoitchkov was among those in total disbelief after Ahmed disallowed an injury time equalizer.
Linesman Georgi Kovachev was banned for 15 matches for his performance during the match.
MAJOR LEAGUE MISCONDUCT
Major League Soccer moved to suspend Real Salt Lake defender Abdoulie Mansally and fined him an undisclosed amount for heat-butting D.C. United midfielder Perry Kitchen in the 61st minute of their 1-0 loss on March 9th. RSL teammate Alvaro Saborio was fined for arguing with referee Sorin Stoica and his officiating crew at the end of the game.
Meanwhile the Kansas City Wizards players have been put on warning after their confrontation with the referee Fotis Bazakos at the end of their loss to Toronto FC on March 9th. Bazakos awarded a controversial penalty kick to Toronto FC after midfielder John Bostock was tripped by Paulo Nagamura while also ignoring several fouls against the Wizards as Toronto hung on for a surprise 2-1 win.
VICTOR VALDES’ SUSPENSION APPEAL DENIED
Barcelona had its appeal of a four-game suspension to goalkeeper Victor Valdes’ for his abuse of a referee Miguel Angel Perez Lasa, following their 2-1 La Liga defeat at Real Madrid last weekend.
The Spanish international netminder violently confronted referee Lasa, after the final whistle and then later in the tunnel.
Lasa had drawn the scorn of more Los Blancos than just Valdes after he disallowed appeals for a penalty kick when Adriano was tripped by Los Blancos’ Sergio Ramos late in the match.
Barca fans won’t be able to see their keeper in action until an April 2nd Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain.