Refereeing is widely accepted to be the hardest and most revered job on the football pitch.
Referees are human, and mistakes will inevitably creep into games now and then. But when mistakes are happening on a continuous basis, it needs to be looked at surely?
This year's FIFA Confederations Cup is a prime example of officials making errors on a consistent basis, and it costs teams matches in some cases.
FIFA have finally introduced goal-line technology (belatedly, it has to be said), but simple mistakes are still cropping up in big matches, and it seems to be happening in almost every game in this year's World Cup curtain-raiser.
Exhibit A: Italy v Mexico | Game 1
The referee gives a cheap free-kick to Italy, in which Andrea Pirlo cooly drifts home to take Italy into the lead.
Minutes later, Andrea Barzagli brings down Giovani Dos Santos (the last man), and gets away with a yellow card.
But hey, referees have off days, so we'll let him off.
Exhibit B: Japan v Italy | Game 2
Early on in the game, Italian left-back Mattia De Sciglio leaves a weak back-pass for Gigi Buffon to deal with. The wily veteran clearly gets the ball with his leg, and the referee points to the spot. But not only that; if that was indeed a penalty, then Buffon should've been sent off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity for the Japanese player.
Nope, the referee lifts a yellow card from his pocket and Japan score the resulting free-kick.
Later on in the game, Italy are pushing for a goal, when Giovinco strikes a shot which happens to deflect off Hasebe and a penalty is given.
I'm sorry, but anyone who watched the replay can see it wasn't intentional, and that it changed the game in a way that it shouldn't have.
Exhibit C: Italy v Brazil | Game 3
The final game of Group A: a massive game between the two greatest nations on the planet, with nine World Cups between them - this game was never going to disappoint in terms of quality.
Italy started slowly, and Brazil won a free-kick which Neymar took. Buffon saved a header, and the ball dribbled out towards Dante, who was there to tap it in. Oh wait, he was offside. Surely the linesman spotted that, with the Brazilian defender closest to him with no Italian players obstructing him.... No.
The game went on, with both teams looking to score. Italy to take top spot and avoid world champions Spain, and Brazil for the same reasons. What followed was just bizarre.
Italy had a corner which was floated into the box. Both Balotelli and Marchisio were being pulled to the ground and the referee blew his whistle. Chiellini slotted the ball home, seemingly in vain, as the Italian players surrounded the referee to argue their goal should have stood. Then, in an outrageous turn around, the referee awards the goal.
I don't know about you, but as a kid, I was told to play to the whistle. The whistle signals the end of play.
What does this tell the world about modern football? Have the rules changed? Can referees change the rules as they please?
There have been many more hideous errors this season which have cost club and country millions.
What do you think?
Please leave your opinions in the comments section. I really want to hear your views on the state of refereeing.
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