Remembering Robin van Persie's bizarre red card during Arsenal vs Barcelona

It has been a decade of controversy and change within European football. 

VAR has revolutionised refereeing decisions across the continent, but divided footballing fans on whether technology has helped the game to improve – or take a giant step backwards.

Whilst the debate on it’s place in the game is likely to rage on for many more years to come, it has helped put an end to some of the ludicrous refereeing mistakes which used to plague the game on a regular basis. 

Take Robin van Persie’s red card vs Barcelona in 2011.

In a pulsating last-16 encounter away at the Nou Camp, the talismanic Dutch striker had just scored a vital away goal to level the scores at 1-1, and keep Arsenal’s hopes of progressing alive. 

The referee, on the other hand, seemed to have different ideas. 

Just minutes after van Persie’s goal, the striker was played in on goal once again, but lashed his shot harmlessly wide. 

Just one second before he had kicked the ball however – yes, one second! – the referee had blown his whistle for offside, and proceeded to show the incredulous Arsenal man a second yellow card.

Van Persie and manager Arsene Wenger looked on in absolute shock as the referee stood by his initial call, and ushered the Dutchman off the field.

Arsenal, severely wounded by losing their star-man, and in utter disbelief at the nature of the call, eventually lost the game 3-1 – a result which saw them crash out of the tournament in a 4-3 aggregate loss. 

Wenger and van Persie both labelled the decision the worst they had ever seen in their post-match interviews, and there is no doubt the decision has gone down as one of the worst refereeing blunders the Champions League has ever witnessed. 

Whether the decision would have been overturned by VAR, had it been in use at the time, remains to be see – but expect Arsenal fans to remain more than a little salty about this one for a few more years yet. 

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