The current state of refereeing in world football is always a source of contention. At any point in football history you will find the grumblings of players and managers over poor decisions made by the officials. The seething ire towards those card-carrying rule hounds happens weekly all over the world. At the moment it’s happening with gusto in a place called Stoke.
Mark Hughes is angry. The Stoke City manager has been fuming over Martin Atkinson’s refusal to award Simon Mignolet with a red card after the Belgian fouled Mame Diouf just outside the box during Wednesday’s match between Stoke and Liverpool.
The post-game evidence has shown that Diouf would have been clear on goal after rounding Mignolet. A goal-scoring opportunity. But in real time, the ref saw the incident as merely a free kick and a yellow card. Liverpool were obviously able to keep eleven men on the pitch and then continue with their eventual 0-3 onslaught of Stoke. Hughes hasn’t been very understanding of this refereeing error and has called for Atkinson to be disciplined.
“I don’t see why he should be refereeing this weekend,” said Hughes.
Jürgen Klopp’s initial assessment of the moment was that the referee made the correct call, believing that Mignolet couldn’t be considered the last man and thus no clear, goal-scoring opportunity existed. But the manager has today spoken about his reassessment of the event after reviewing the replay.
“First of all,” said Klopp, “I think it was the first time this season that we were lucky in that situation, to be one hundred percent honest. But I have to admit that we were lucky.
“When I gave the interviews, I was one hundred percent sure it was the right decision because I thought Joe Gomez was in a different position. So, I didn’t realize from my point of view that it was pretty much a one hundred percent goal after.
“It would not have been a penalty, it was outside the box. But, yes, if there’s a red card for Simon Mignolet, we cannot argue.
“So I understand that he (Mark Hughes) is not happy about that decision.
“I respect and like Mark a lot so I can imagine that he thinks it was a very decisive moment in the game. Yes, probably. But that’s how it is.”