Friday, May 8, 2009

Soccer Ref Forced Into Hiding

Soccer Ref Forced Into Hiding

Posted May 08, 2009 10:58AM By MICHAEL CARDILLO (RSS FEED)

Throughout the history of team sports, spectators have probably joked about causing bodily harm to an umpire or referee. In the wake of Barcelona's last-minute Champions League semifinal victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, this sort of thinking has become no laughing matter as the match's official -- Tom Henning Ovrebo -- has been forced into hiding after receiving numerous threats.

The Norwegian denied Chelsea, what the Blues felt, were three possible penalty kicks -- the first when Dani Alves dragged down Flourent Malouda in the box in the first half and the next two on possible handballs on Barcelona players Gerard Pique and Samuel Eto'o. The second call, which would have gone against Eto'o in injury time, has already sparked numerous YouTube parodies featuring Chelsea's Michael Ballack's over the top reaction.

In fairness, Ovrebo had a night to forget and let the game get away from him in the dying minutes. The missed call on Pique was especially egregious. Yet, that's obviously no excuse for people to publish the ref's Oslo address and make threats on his life.

It's certainly got to be tough to be a Chelsea fan this week after another gut-wrenching Champions League defeat. The club is full of stars and is good enough to win the competition, but last year lost to Manchester United in the final on penalty kicks and Wednesday got knocked out in the 93rd minute in the second leg of the semifinal. Ouch.

While Chelsea's general frustration can be understood, we still live in a world where you have to abide the ref's whistle and decision. Or as my friend John puts it, "Friends, you gotta play by the rules."

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