Chelsea has had a unique history with referees. Some of these fine gentlemen have shown great wisdom and sportsmanship, important traits for every sports official. However, modern football is deeply acquainted with game-throwing bribes and bias. Although it is quite easy to make a long list of unjust referees, I decided to choose three unique referees from different time periods that everyone should be familiar with. Henceforth, these three shall be dubbed “the Good,” “the Bad” and “the Ugly.”
The prime example of a good referee for Chelsea is Gianluca Rocchi. This Italian stallion refereed our infamous 4-4 draw with Ajax in the group stages of this year’s Champions League. For a quick recap, Luca Rocchi gifted us two beautiful penalties for his international comrade Jorginho. Not only that, as we were down 4-1, Luca Rocchi gave Ajax two red cards along with the two gifts mentioned previously. These gifts enabled us to gather a very important point which would later, rather ironically, knock Ajax into the Europa League.
A few days passed, and Luca was heavily criticized for his actions in the game, much to the dismay of Chelsea fans. Looking back at the game, Rocchi had to make tough decisions, but they were all arguably fair and just punishments. Unfortunately, the season almost seemed to punish us for the favorable outcomes via the use of incorrect VAR decisions, something that Mr. Bad helped contribute to.
Some time after the Ajax game, we faced Manchester United for the third time this season, and we suffered a heartbreaking and aggravating defeat. Anthony Taylor and his VAR counterpart Chris Kavanagh (who are both ironically from Manchester) gifted Manchester United multiple game changing decisions, some of which were arguably mistakes.
The first goal from the Reds occurred from a rare cross by Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who found Martial lurking in the box. Chelsea was down 1-0 at half-time, but the show really exploded out of control in the second half. Substitute Kurt Zouma found the back of the net 11 minutes after half time, but VAR declared it invalid because Azpilicueta supposedly pushed a United player in the box. Rather annoyingly, the goal 100% should have stood because Fred was the one who pushed Azpilicueta into the other player. Whilst Taylor didn’t have the clearest of views, Kavanagh still cancelled the goal despite Fred taking the first action.
Later on, Harry Maguire equalized in the 66th minute. As I described in further detail in my VAR article, Maguire should have been sent off earlier for purposely kicking Michy in the gentlemen’s area. Kavanagh decided, however, that a purposeful kick in the eggplant doesn’t incur a red card.
To rub it in further, Giroud’s late goal was also cancelled for offside, probably the only right decision they made the entire game. The dynamic Manchester Duo from the FA ruined that weekend for all Chelsea fans, but the duo still meant nothing when compared to a certain other referee.
Although the title is “The Ugly,” Tom is certainly not what I am referring to by Ugly. Even if he is infamous in the Chelsea community for his antics in our game against Barcelona, he has fully admitted to his mistakes and definitely regrets them. Despite this, Ovrebo still leaves a distasteful feeling in Chelsea fans whenever they look back to that fateful night. The countless errors that Ovrebo made caused the likes of Drogba and Ballack, rather notably, to go berserk and lose their cool. Multiple penalty appeals were straight up ignored, or as football twitter would say, “aired”. VAR this and VAR that, Ovrebo takes the cake for having one of the worst performances as a referee in football history.
However, none of the things stated above could be used as an excuse for what would happen following this game. Tom was sent an inconceivable amount of death threats from mostly Chelsea fans, a dark part of our history that many people choose to ignore. It got to the point where he was escorted out of England by police because of the countless number of people with loose screws in their head, who went above and beyond what was humane. It’s almost been 11 years since that incident, and as a Chelsea fan, I think it’s time to forgive and forget. In 2018, Tom told a reporter, “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.” Tom made regretful mistakes that night, but as a community, we have to realize he is still a person with feelings, and being in his shoes even to this day will hurt anyone.
To end, I implore Chelsea fans to start being more careful when criticizing and hating on players. At the end of the day, almost all of us have been guilty of going overboard when criticizing. Support your team, support your players and support the Referees who go through inhumane threats and aggression.
Edited by: Dan