The five most contentious referee calls this season

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While there is nothing worse than hearing a fan complain about how their side was robbed by the referee, on some occasions you do have to question some decisions.

Referees have one of the toughest jobs in football to ensure the game is played fairly, and unfortunately they make mistakes.

Below are five of the most contentious decisions that referees have given so far in the 2020/21 A-League season.

Alex Rufer red card against Macarthur FC

The Wellington Phoenix were leading early into the second-half before inexplicably being reduced to 10 men when Alex Rufer had his yellow card upgraded to a red for a challenge on Denis Genreau.

Replays showed Rufer winning the ball cleanly without making contact with Genreau, yet the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and the on-field referee Stephen Lucas ultimately decided that the midfielder should be sent off.

It was a call that made an instant impact as Macarthur were able to level the scores five minutes later and go onto draw the match 1-1.

Phoenix general manager David Dome later said on Twitter the head of the A-League’s referees admitted that this call was in fact an error.

“Spoke to refs boss this afternoon. He’s admitted they got it wrong in #MACvWEL twice: in being referred to the VAR and again for the red.”

First Stefan Mauk penalty against Central Coast Mariners

The first of the dodgy penalty decisions came at the expense of Central Coast Mariners defender Ruon Tongyik who was adjudged to have brought down Stefan Mauk in the box.

Referee boss Strebre Delovski said the on field referee Adam Fielding got the decision wrong as Mauk had initiated the contact with Tongyik whilst contesting the ball.

“The defender has done nothing wrong, he just stands there, and the Adelaide attacker is the one that initiates the contact,” Delovski told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Second Stefan Mauk penalty against Central Coast Mariners

Having gone down for a penalty in the first half of the match, Mauk once again found himself on the right side of a poor refereeing decision in the second half.

This time Mariners’ midfielder Josh Nisbet was penalised for dragging down Mauk with his arm despite both players holding and fouling each other.

Mauk crashed to the ground and Fielding once again pointed to the spot to the disbelief of almost everyone watching.

A frustrated Mariners’ coach Alen Stajcic said after the game his players probably felt like they had been “robbed”.

Fans of the A-League and the Mariners agreed and were quick to express their views about the contentious calls on social media.

Besart Berisha penalty appeal against Western Sydney Wanderers

Western United striker Besart Berisha made headlines after his appeals for a penalty late in their match against Western Sydney Wanderers in Ballarat.

The striker seemed to be pulled down in the box by Wanderers defender Simon Cox but to his frustration the penalty was not given.

The legendary A-League striker was fuming as he got subbed off and confronted the VAR official to get an explanation on why the decision did not at least get reviewed.

Berisha was adamant there was contact, and the on field referee should have at least consulted VAR to determine whether the contact was enough to warrant a penalty.

The officials did not do so, and it served as a vital call in the context of the match which went on to end 1-0 to the visitors.

Handball not called for Sydney FC against Melbourne City

All fans would have to agree with Steve Corica’s stance on the officiating of the handball rule.

Corica believed his side was denied a clear penalty in their 3-2 loss to Melbourne City at AAMI Park.

The ignored handball was likely the correct decision, yet it brings up questions surrounding how referees interpret the handball rule.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), who determine the laws of football state it is a handball if the ball strikes a player who has made their body unnaturally bigger.

Under that rule, if the hand is raised above the head then it is rarely in a natural position and should be punished as a handball.

Embed from Getty Images

Corica was not angry at the VAR or the on field referee but argued the lack of certainty of the handball rule.

“If your hand’s up like that, it’s a handball,” Corica told Channel 7.

“Probably a little bit inconsistent with the ruling and that needs to change, I think. Balls are hitting hands and we don’t know if it’s handball or not.”

Featured Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Angus Brien
Covering Brisbane Roar A-League and W-League matches during the 2020/2021 season. Currently studying Journalism at Queensland University of Technology. Big sports fan and lover of football.

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