Chelsea lose their heads and their dignity

May 7, 2009

Maybe Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo was wrong on all the big decisions in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg — it absolutely does not justify Chelsea’s reaction.

UEFA’s “Respect” campaign was, again, left in tatters as pandemonium erupted after Andres Iniesta’s late equaliser sent Barcelona through on the away goals rule.

Didier Drogba had long been substituted but found enough energy to sprint onto the field at fulltime and harangue the referee, collecting a booking in the process.

Chelsea stewards and his team mates failed to control him as he returned for another bite, before turning his wrath to the cameras.

During the match the Ivorian striker had shown the best and worst sides of his game and should look to himself when considering why referees perhaps do not react kindly to his team’s appeals.

He often showed barnstorming strength to battle through the Barcelona defence but, as so often before, suddenly developed legs of straw when he decided it was time to win a freekick.

On one occasion he actually injured his back while performing a fierce body flip of frustration after another collapse had been waved away by the referee.

Midfielder Michael Ballack, another hugely experienced player, also went ballistic, neck veins popping Roy Keane-style as he screamed in the face of the referee and barged him after he opted not to give a penalty for a late handball.

He had been a bit quieter earlier when the Norwegian sent off Barcelona’s Eric Abidal for clipping the heels of Nicolas Anelka – but refereeing errors are obviously acceptable “at this level” if they work in your favour.

Manager Guus Hiddink, admirably calm amid the mayhem and normally among the most thoughtful and intelligent observers of the game, did himself no favours when he backed Drogba’s actions.

“I can fully understand his reaction,” he said. “He was full of emotion and full of adrenalin but he was in control. If he went beyond that and started hitting he should go, but I fully understand his behaviour after the game and I will protect him.”

England midfielder Frank Lampard added: “I dont think you can expect grown men to walk off and say nothing,” a comment wide open for an all-too-obvious retort.

John Terry, captain of Chelsea, captain of England and supposedly a role model for all young players, was another to blot his reputation after a superb playing performance.

“I’m fully behind Didier,” he said.” It is the referee who should face the consequences.”

What these millionaire “grown men” do not seem to realise is that as their example filters down through the game, and it does, there will eventually be no referees left for them or anyone else, to vent their frustrations on.




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Quite agree Mitch, what goes around comes around for Drogba and maybe the next time he’ll bear that in mind when he hits the deck like a sack of spuds at the merest of contacts in pursuit of a penalty.

The Abidal red card was wrong, the Pique handball decision was wrong but none of the other shouts were clear penalties and based on the balance of play in both ties the right side progressed to give us the final that 99 percent of us wanted. Move on.

Posted by Miles Evans | Report as abusive

They obviously went over the top but shouldnt there be some sort of recourse when the refereeing is so bad???

Posted by Claudia | Report as abusive

Is that Cashley Hole? Nice to see you can spell.

I get fed up with this nonsense about footballers being role models. Their role in life is to play football, and show commitment, something Terry does. Of course they have to accept to carry themselves well in the public eye, which given all the money they earn, is the least they can do.

But to ask them to keep a lid on their emotions after something like last night? Ridiculous. So Terry shouted at the ref after match, but once he’d got that out of his system he went round the pitch to shake the hands of all the Barca players, as did Lampard.

As for Drogba, I heard one of his flip-flops broke in his tirade, rendering it impossible for him to walk too far to shake everyones hands…

Posted by Howard | Report as abusive

Howard has echoed my view. It’s very easy to throw the book at Chelsea’s devastated players and it was just as easy to ask Chelses to trade punched with Barcelona to entertain neutral fans with an avalanche of goals in the back of their own net. After everything said and done, the cold truth remains that the more talented team needed a poor referee and an injury time goal to go through to the final. Although I am a United fan, I symapthise with Hiddink and Terry and fully understand their reaction. As for Drogba, well…it’s just pasrt of his caharacter and he will face the consequences. But the referee should too.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

Well done Ashley on your comment. I presume you are fluent in the language of “text message”. I hope your 11+ exam goes well for you.

Chelsea were hard done by last night but maybe not positive enough at key moments in the tie. They could of at least tried to push Barca back in the Camp Nou and then to play like they did against 10 men last night was plain daft, regardless of the team and the circumstances. They got scared and it ultimately cost them.

Why Lampard, Terry and Hiddink have backed Drogba for his actions is a question only they can answer. As much as I appreciate the mentality of sticking up for your mates, they have to remember who they represent also. It would of been better for them not to comment on the incidents until they had the chance to review them again.

Should be a great final, but no more tense than Newcastle v Boro this weekend!

Posted by Chris Gladwin | Report as abusive

Thank you Ashley for that drunken tirade.

I agree with Mitch, Chelsea were disgraceful not matter which angle you look at it, I dont see the point of their protests AFTER the final whistle[especially Drogba’s] – what were they expecting the ref to do? award the penalty? replay the last 5 minutes of the game? or maybe overturn the result?

Maybe if Chelsea played with as much passion as they complained perhaps they would have scored another goal and not have to cry like little girls…

All rather childish if you ask me, how do you teach a 10 year old to learn how to be graceful in defeat when “grown men” obviously can’t?

Posted by Jones | Report as abusive

Here’s what Chelsea are saying about Terry –  /0,,10268~1650994,00.html

No article on Drogba the Gent though.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

Its tree situations where the referee was wrong, the two hands situations and the red card. It should have been to penalty’s and no red card. Maybe the red card made the referee see the other way? Any way Chelcea should have had many yellow cards for falling so easy in the 16 meter field.

Posted by Hardnogen | Report as abusive

for a game such as last night you have to put the best ref out there….
REF didnt have the confidence

Posted by KC | Report as abusive

chelsea sore losers!!

Terry manhandles Victor Valdes in their previous CL encounter with Barca and then they score the winning goal. Chelsea win. Barca lose with dignity and no drama.

Fastforward 06/05/09 a ball to hand hits Eto whilst he turns his back. Barca win. Chelsea lose their dignity and their heads. Go on and on with the ref.
Whilst its rich coming from Didier ” the diver/cheat” Drogba to cry fowl when he himself is the master of the black arts of cheating.

UEFA must make an example of Ballack and Drogba and suspend them for at least 6 months out of UEFA cups.

Posted by lesego | Report as abusive

Headlines on Reuters like “Sorry London, but Barcelona Manchester United is the dream final” do nothing to reduce my suspicion that there was something very fishy going on last night (and I’m a neutral). We all know what Platini thinks of the dominance of the English game. There’s definitely more to this referee business than meets the eye and it should be investigated by somebody.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

“Midfielder Michael Ballack, another hugely experienced player, also went ballistic, neck veins popping Roy Keane-style as he screamed in the face of the referee and barged him after he opted not to give a penalty for a late handball.”

Looked more Martin Keown-style to me.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

why are all this chelsea supporters and players and everyone associated with chelsea so angry…?they need to let this one go.the ref is not perfect and there is a difference between a hand ball and ball to hand..Drogba is a very good actor on the field,him and cristiano ronaldo went to the same school of acting and thats why refs dont give them all the fouls that they might deserve….star players need to be humble like lionel messi

Posted by messi vs ronaldo | Report as abusive

Another note regarding the Chelsea – Barcelona match. I believe FIFA and UEFA should introduce technology thus to avoid repeating the same mistakes of poor refereeing decisions.

At the same time appointed a referree from Norway with limited experience taking also into account the disallowed proper goal of Tony at the European Nations match between Roumania – Italy was another reason of not appointing this referee for a semi-final European match.

FIFA and UEFA have the rensponsibilty to take the right decisions and to take also into the account of the supporters let alone the football officials.

I am sorry to say but these officials in Brussels made a big mistake. At the same time not giving the right to appeal when a referee makes a wrong decision as the case of Fletcher at the Man Utd match unless it is a mistaken identity is totally wrong. There must be a procedure to appeal and decisions like these only harm the game.

Posted by george antoniou | Report as abusive

i think all these refereeing errors could be easily avoided by what is proposed through this website:

Posted by james | Report as abusive

Chelsea grow up. In 90 minutes you could not take the score from 1-0 to 2-0 or better still 3-0. Your players missed most of the chances to score after the first goal. And Dorgba your antics on the field, leave one to wonder, are you playing or doing theatrics. Chelsea played negatively in the first semi-final. They were beaten in this game by a better team. This is coming from a chelsea supporter. Wake up, the team sucks. Stop blaming the refree for not being able to make it 2-0 in 90 minutes.

Posted by Amardeep | Report as abusive

I was also a complete neutral and had sympathy for Chelsea until Drogba and Ballack brought dishonour and shame onto themselves and their club.

Contrast their despicable behaviour with the dignified manner in which Darren Fletcher, playing for a team which unquestionably deserved its place in the final, accepted his desperately unfortunate red card the previous night.

Posted by Miles Evans | Report as abusive

Thanks for all your comments. A few interesting points have come up. I sort of agree with Howard in his frustration at players being expected to be role models. I’m not advocating them living blemish-free lives, merely that they respect the officials and laws of the game that rewards them so handsomely.
When so many of them spend so much time trying to con referees they can surely have no complaint when decisions go against them.
I’ve got a lot of sympathy for the Chelsea fans who feel they were robbed of a place in the final, but it was because of bad luck, some bad decisions and, Didier, some weak finishing.
I’ve got just as much sympathy for the players and fans of other clubs who have been penalised by the dives and theatrics of Drogba and his ilk, when refereeing errors are suddenly considered all fine and dandy.
UEFA and FIFA have much to answer for too – but not for, in this case, selecting a referee from a “minor country”.
Their problem is a long and continuing lack of will to seriously address the indiscipline that has ruined the game.
Sepp Blatter justifies diving by saying football is an “emotional game” – as if all other sports are not.
Until the governing bodies really take action to stamp out the cheating and the pressurising of referees, the game will continue to slide towards anarchy.

Posted by Mitch | Report as abusive

What most people are forgetting is how badly Chelsea wanted to avenge last years Champions League Final. Granted, Drogba went off the deep end with his comments @ the TV camera’s, but this is coming from a player who also received a red card for slapping one of our players in the heat of battle. Terry had his tirade against the referee as well, but this is a player who has probably had a nightmare about missing his penalty kick every night since! Generally speaking, when the officiating is absolutely atrocious, there’s always the 3 or 4 times that the team affected could have taken matters into their own hands. But this game in particular puts a glaring light on the referee chosen & the decisions that were made, to the point where questions of conspiracy come into play.

Now, I despise Chelsea & their support just as much as I despise that of Liverpool, or even Man City. But you’d have to be brain-dead not to sympathize for Chelsea & their fans, and fiercly question the decisions made by the referee that night. To me, Abidal’s red card seems like a sorry attempt to show fairness in the game, but that’s just me.

@ the end of the day, it’s the final that most folks wanted to see & apparently that’s all that matters.

Posted by Darren | Report as abusive

I keep reading that this is the final that everybody wanted anyway so we should all just be happy about it. If that is the case, why play? Let’s just have a vote. We can all vote who should win each game. That way the games will always turn out how most people want them. Let’s all vote who should win the final. Then we don’t even need to play. We don’t even need a ref making bad calls!

Anyone of you would be infuriated if your team was cheated. Who cares if you don’t like Drogba. Should penalties not be called because the ref doesn’t like a player on the team, or fans around the world don’t like a particular player?

There should be an aserisk in the record books next to Barca regarding the final. It could read: “Gifted the final spot by Ovrebo when the score COULD HAVE been 5-1 in the semi-final. However, everyone wanted Chelsea to lose so it’s ok.”

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

How many of you Man U fans and Barca fans like to have Ovrebo ref your final match? You have no idea who he would feel should win. It might be the other team which means you can kiss your trophy goodbye. How would you like that? Would you be up for that?

I don’t ever want to see that hack of a ref in any more of my team’s games. I don’t want him deciding who should win and who should lose.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

It is the system which need changes in refereeing.

It is quite obvious that with what is proposed with this website such bad refereeing will not occur.

Posted by james | Report as abusive

The first person to lose his dignity out there was the referee. To go back to the other point of this debate, I suppose 99 percent of neutral fans want Barcelona to win the final now that they are in it. So let’s just give them the trophy and not bother.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

I don’t like to see a team cheated out of a place in the final, but now the dust has settled i am looking forward to a Barcelona Man Utd final.

Posted by your soccer space | Report as abusive

Mitch, to go back to your summary of the comments and your reply: I think you are missing the point. When a particular player cons the ref it is he who should be punished instantly with a booking or even a sending off, in which case no one, including his team, can have any complaints. Denying a team a clear penalty because of one of their players’ misconduct is not only against the rules of play, it is also sinister and is suggests a clear case of bias against that team.
Drogba should have been booked or even sent off long before he lashed out at the ref and Ovrebo should never be allowed to referee another Champions League game. If players are punished for bad fouls and reckless decisions, referees should too.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

i think that the reff was too harsh.first handball,he did not give we understand but the second one c’mon.a team must go through fair and squar,anywhere good luck barcelona.”iniesta”

Posted by gabriel gregjak | Report as abusive

To answer Miles on his point on Fletcher’s grace: that red card came long after United had all but sealed their place in the final. The penalty not given to Chelsea would have, in all likelihood, sealed theirs had the taker scored. Two very different situations.
Players will always overreact to bad decisions, especially those that turn a CL semi-final the other way. We know referees make mistakes, but Ovrebo lost control of the game straight from the kick-off because all his big decisions were awful: the penalty, the Abidal red card and most of all, not booking Drogba the first time he went down lack a sack of spuds and appealed for a penalty. I can’t help feeling that the ref kept shooting himself in the foot by making one bad call after another hoping they cancel each other out at the end of the game. In the end, all he got was an inevitable over-reaction from a team robbed of their place in the final. If referees are human, players are not robots either.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive