Referee Again

by Kieran Healy on June 22, 2006

I think the Referee in today’s Australia vs Croatia match, England’s Graham Poll, deserves his own thread. Witness the rugby-tackle by Simunic on Mark Viduka that “didn’t merit a penalty”:, for instance. Or the masterful way he forgot he had already booked Simunic when awarding him “his second yellow card”: Nothing like expert officiating from the home of the game. In the second clip, watch Simunic give the ref some backchat and then begin to walk toward the locker room. He then glances behind him and realizes that Poll has forgotten to send him off. So he got to stay on the field to collect a rare third yellow, and then be sent off _after_ the final whistle.

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Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony » Blog Archive » A game for the rest of us
06.22.06 at 8:00 pm
Down and Out in Sài Gòn
06.23.06 at 12:52 am



Ginger Yellow 06.22.06 at 6:14 pm

Poll is an awful ref. If I remember rightly he got demoted from the Premier League list not too long ago. How did he get back on the FIFA list?


Amanda 06.22.06 at 6:19 pm

It”s wonderfully ironic that after all the snarking about Australia’s physical “rugby tactics”, a blatant rugby tackle on us by Simunic goes unpunished.

The Guardian’s minute by minute on Poll:

90 min: Another red card! But… Graham Poll, who is a stupid bastard, is not getting the final, we can tell you that for nothing. After fouling Kennedy, Simunic is booked for a second time. He walks… then comes back when he realises Poll isn’t going to show red. Ho ho hoh dear.

FULL TIME OF A FANTASTIC MATCH: Croatia 2 – 2 Australia Ha ha ha, Graham Poll is a complete clown. After a scramble in the box, Viduka sets about forcing the ball home for Australia… but Poll blows up for full time, Clive Thomas style, with the ball about to cross the line. He disallows the goal – not that it matters – but then he decides to book Simunic for a third time – and sends him off. He then blows up for full time AGAIN… before driving off the pitch in a car with square wheels.

Honk! Honk! The doors have just fallen off Poll’s car, and there are jets of steam coming out of the engine. Let’s hope nobody agrees to smell his funny flower!


Anyway as an Aussie whose followed the Socceroos since 1990, I am over the frigging moon.

If Croatia had scored after Simunic got his second yellow but stayed on the field … what say the rules?


Aidan Maconachy 06.22.06 at 6:59 pm

Aussies are looking good.

They performed well against Brazil, and with a different toss of the dice might well have won it.

I’m not a Brazil believer at all this time out. Ronaldo looks like an elderly gourmet on prozac, and has been reduced to loitering in the kill zone in desperate hopes of a lucky cross.

The refing has been very bizarre at times I agree, and not just Poll. For games to rise to their potential, there needs to be less stop and start – and less f’ing carding. Let the action flow and step in only when obvious infractions occur. A lot of the foul calls when seen on replay were legal, albeit awkward challenges, that should have been waved on.

Anyway …



Tom Lynch 06.22.06 at 7:58 pm

The only thing you can say in Poll’s defence is that he was so clueless, and so indiscriminately inept, and made mistakes so often that the match ended up more or less as it should’ve in the presence of good refereeing, give or take an extra Australian goal.

But a performance like that will see him sacked from adjudicating anything important for a long time, one hopes.


Randy Paul 06.22.06 at 9:17 pm


I guess you didn’t see today’s Brazil game.


foolishmortal 06.22.06 at 9:17 pm

I’m left awestruck by Mr. Poll’s performance. Truly it was not of an age, but for all time. Despite all the blunders, missed penalities and soft yellows, it really was one hell of a game. Even Brett Emerton looked good for most of the match (he has since recovered).


Kieran Healy 06.22.06 at 9:22 pm

So now Australia play Italy: I forsee severely divided loyalties (perhaps intergenerationally, within the same households) in fairly significant parts of Melbourne and Sydney.


normalvision 06.22.06 at 9:37 pm

Contra Ginger Yellow, Poll did an excellent job in the EPL this year. Thus, I was dumbstruck by his balls-up at the Croatia/Aussie match. Perhaps he was competing with Merk the Jerk for Golden Goofus Award. Then again, is any Cup official out of the running?


Aidan Maconachy 06.22.06 at 10:36 pm

Randy –

Just read about it. He’s a great player. In the early going he seemed totally out of it. If he can recapture his form it will make for great football.


Aidan Maconachy 06.22.06 at 10:41 pm

Australia 2 – Italy 1

No I’m not entirely drunk.


Fadzilah 06.22.06 at 10:48 pm

What’s amazing about the game last night is that the other match officials didn’t remind the ref about Simunic’s first yellow card. Or maybe, Poll merely ignored them because he didn’t know the protocol for belated sending-offs.


Chris Bertram 06.23.06 at 1:57 am

I’m pretty sure that Ginger Yellow is mistaken about Poll’s demotion. He’s normally pretty good, especially in big matches, but he certainly screwed up in a big way yesterday. An early flight home, I would think …


Chris Bertram 06.23.06 at 1:59 am

BTW, BBC radio 5 factoid: 40 % of Australians believe they will win the WC ….


Down and Out in Sài Gòn 06.23.06 at 2:00 am

The last comment (13) was meant to be a trackback of mine. I don’t know if I’m doing it right; the result looks like a very truncated post.

The big question of mine: what the hell was Mark Schwarzer doing on the sidelines for the match? Željko Kalac was fumbling so much that my wife and I got really, really nervous any time the Croatian strikers came near the Australian goal. The missus (who is Vietnamese, not Australian) was getting really worked up over Kalac.


Doug 06.23.06 at 3:26 am

And back in the England-Sweden game, Hargreaves didn’t even get a card for a foul that got an American sent off. Although Sweden should count themselves lucky, too; the foul in about the 80th minute that drew a yellow would have gotten an American banned for life. And maybe the next life, too, depending on how FIFA feels about reincarnation.


dale 06.23.06 at 3:27 am

if poll was demoted from the premiership then the FA’s in even bigger trouble than i thought, since he’s been indiscriminately entering matches and whistling at players, demotion or no demotion.

it’s been a real treat to watch him. he grins at the players in what (i’m sure) he thinks is a reassuringly avuncular way, which ( to everyone else) looks like either he’s just made the player an indecent offer, or he’s moving his teeth into a new position.

if this grimacing turns out to be tactical dentistry, as it appears (no players have yet reacted in horror to his rictus, which would seem to rule out it being point-man for a proposition) then hallelujah. at least both he and the game have a common bias toward tactics and positioning. it’s better than nothing.

usually, for all the worth he brings, he might as well be dressed in women’s underwear asleep in front of the TV, like any old british MP.


Chris Bertram 06.23.06 at 3:45 am

the foul in about the 80th minute that drew a yellow would have gotten an American banned for life.

cue the violins!


snuh 06.23.06 at 6:18 am

this is what you have to do to get banned for life:

Roberto Rojas
Brazil v Chile, World Cup qualifier, 3 September 1989

Overrun and intimidated, Chile needed a way out. The plan: force an abandonment and a replay in a neutral venue. The execution: on 69 minutes, goalkeeper Rojas threw himself into the smoke of a firecracker, which had landed nearby, pulled a razor blade from his glove and stabbed himself in the head. The result: lots of blood, a mass brawl, a walkout, an abandonment – but, after video evidence, no replay. Instead, Brazil were awarded the game, Chile were out of one World Cup and excluded from the next, Rojas was banned for life and the woman who threw the firecracker was signed up by Playboy Brazil. In May 2001, Fifa lifted the ban. ‘At 43, I’m unlikely to play again,’ said Rojas, now coach at São Paulo, ‘but at least this pardon will cleanse my soul.’

americans have a way to go yet.


Doug 06.23.06 at 6:45 am

“americans have a way to go yet.”

That may depend on the referee.

What was Rojas doing with a razor blade in his glove anyway?


Ray 06.23.06 at 7:20 am

the grauniad continue their poll-bashing…

Shower and shave. Then get dressed. Shorts on: check. Shirt on: check. Whistle in pocket: check. Notebook: check. Pencil: check. Green, orange and purple cards: check, check, check. Pull on pair of socks.
Pull on pair of socks.

Pull on pair of socks…,,1804546,00.html


dearieme 06.23.06 at 9:00 am

I admire Brazil’s new tactic of the stationary centre forward. It means everyone knows where he is and so can pass to him without looking up. Fiendish.


vice 06.23.06 at 1:27 pm

all the cup refereeing has been rubbish, eh? let’s look at the matches for christ’s sake…


John Quiggin 06.23.06 at 3:12 pm

I’m actually in Italy where, amazingly enough, the main TV station chose to show Brazil v Japan (not quite a dead rubber, but close enough). I guess they don’t want the public to see Australia in action. Fortunately, I’ll be gone by the time the match takes place.


nick s 06.23.06 at 8:00 pm

The big question of mine: what the hell was Mark Schwarzer doing on the sidelines for the match?

Beats me. There was speculation that putting in Kalac meant he’d be able to understand what was being said in the box by the Croatians on set-pieces, but if he stays in for the Brazil match, I’ll have to assume that Hiddink is taking the piss.


Tom Lynch 06.24.06 at 3:27 am

“BTW, BBC radio 5 factoid: 40 % of Australians believe they will win the WC ….”

And 5% of commentators believe that statistic represents what Australians actually think and not just typical patriotic bravado …


Daniel 06.24.06 at 4:04 pm

Apparently he won’t be doing any more officiating at the world cup; the Sun’s headline today was “Fool Poll’s Coming Home”.


Amanda 06.25.06 at 1:42 am

I think Kalac was more about him being better able to combat Croatia’s aerial game. 99.9% of the time he would have had no trouble stopping the ball which was Croatia’s second goal and if he had he wouldn’t havce had that bad a game. No goalie could be blamed for letting the first one in. Guus is not afraid to take calculated risks which is one of the reasons he’s sucha great coach, and most of the gambles pay off.


snuh 06.25.06 at 8:58 pm

What was Rojas doing with a razor blade in his glove anyway?

apparently the whole thing was planned in advance. you know, “just in case we’re losing, i’ll make sure i’ve got my knife in my glove, so i can cut myself to force a do-over”, like you do.


Jasper 06.26.06 at 7:03 am

In England poor refs are rewarded, I hope we can rethink our view that a ref who uses too many cards clearly cannot control matters.
Poll has been an accident waiting to happen for some time, but even I cannot believe how spectacularly bad he was. I also cannot conceal my delight. He disallowed a Don Hutchinson goal in an Everton v Liverpool match and even the Liverpool players admitted it was a goal, I remember another prat referee Clive Thomas who also messed up in a World Cup. He also disallowed an Everton goal in a match against Liverpool, the 1977 FA cup semi final.
Bad refs always get found out.


robbo 06.27.06 at 3:27 am

australia have been robbed by imcompitent ref’s the ref at the italy match had no clue jus as the ref at the croatia game clearly neil did not force grello to fall over the damn italian saw the opurtunity for a foul and chose to ‘simulate’ a trip, resulting in the match winning penalty

australia exited this world cup with their heads held high, i hope italy leave this world cup in discrace

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