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March 02, 2007

"Home" refereeing decisions for Red Bull Salzburg cheats

Back in the UK there has been a bit of a flurry about "home" refereeing decisions for big clubs, mostly fuelled by Paul Jewell's ranting about losing to Arsenal due to bad refereeing by Mr Dowd. During which Jewell failed to refer to Arsenal appearing to have a prefectly good goal ruled out for offside, by the very same ref, in the very same match. But I digress.

I saw some astonishing refereeing in the game I went to in Salzburg at the weekend, very much in favour of the home team, Red Bull Salzburg. We were well placed, in line with the six-yard box, to see the incidents, but I'm not just talking about the odd bad call.

And there were a couple of those - notably on one occasion the Red Bulls keeper spilled a shot, it clearly, clearly then crossed the line just past the post and should have been a corner for Liebherr GAK, except he just picked it up, ran forward, and simply carried on with the game, leaving the opposition stunned at what had been allowed to happen.

But officials can make mistakes, so I can't complain too much about that - but what was astonishing was the way Red Bull Salzburg were allowed to take their goal kicks. And I really mean astonishing.

Every single goal kick I saw their keeper take was taken from at least a foot outside the six-yard area. I got so annoyed with it that in the end I made sure I got photographic evidence of Red Bull Salzburg's persistent cheating.


What I could not believe was that firstly, on the night, between the referee, two assistant referees, and the fourth official, with the game also being displayed on two big screens within the ground, not a single one of them managed to notice this cheating on any occasion that the keeper took a goal kick during the game.

Secondly, I can't believe that if the keeper did this for every goal kick that was taken on Saturday, that it hasn't been spotted on any television coverage of Red Bulls matches so far this season, and that the officials weren't aware that they should be looking out for it.

Maybe I'm more cynical after the Italian match-fixing scandfal last year, but let's be honest here. You could visibly see that, in front of thousands of fans, the match officials at the Austrian game on Saturday repeatedly couldn't be trusted to enforce one of the simplest rules of the game.

How then could you trust them on any other decision?

Red Bull Salzburg are currently 13 points clear at the top of the Austrian league.

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