Referees and officials have had a hard seven days.
With refereeing standards continuously under the microscope, last Thursday European football got its first major taste of UEFA’s like for the new additional assistant referees in the Europa League. The plain understanding of the new AARs is that the tried-and-trusted ref and two linesmen simply aren’t good enough anymore. And while the referees in general have to swallow that harsh reality, others have been meted out with more physical harm in the last few days.
Over in Iran on Friday night, in the match between Esteghlal and Estil Azin, little Hossein Kaebi sped out of control as the number 13 motored his way down the right hand touchline. Fortunately the lino was there to help, insisting that the full back receive a soft landing.
During the Barcelona-Atletico Madrid match on Saturday night another official took an embarrassing tumbling. With just a few minutes on the clock the Rojiblancos were trailing 4-2, however Atleti were trying their hardest to score again. As they built an attack on the edge of the Barca area, midfield dynamo Andres Iniesta worked tooth-and-nail to retrieve possession for the Catalans, and when the ref got in his way the man in black was forced to eat a face-full of grass.
Yet not all of the officials were such a soft touch. Over in Switzerland the traditionally neutral Europeans have been forced into taking sides after high-profile referee Massimo Busacca was caught giving the middle finger salute when officiating the Swiss Cup match between FC Baden and Young Boys. (A report into the incident can be seen here.)
Onto the usual schmuck of the week award where there was only one clear winner. “Mad” Jens Lehmann was never likely to bow out of football quietly, and since leaving Arsenal to extend his playing career with Stuttgart in the Bundesliga the keeper has been involved in several controversial incidents including stealing another player’s boot and acting out against Khalid Boulahrouzâ€™s headband.
This weekend though Lehmann made a complete prat out himself for footballing reasons as the keeper ventured way out of his goal to try and play some footie, only to lose possession with inevitable consequences.
Two brilliant goals didn’t make our list because they were flukes, but we’d encourage you to watch Alan’s goal for Braga that shot down Porto at the weekend as well as Ronald Vargas’ amazing goal for Club Brugge against Westerlo from Sunday.
Onto the list, where this week we are keeping things quiet for you to discover yourselves. If you think we’ve missed something please let us know in the comments. Enjoy!
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (FC Zurich v Real Madrid, Sept. 15, 2009)
2. Marko Topic (Saturn v Spartak Moscow, Sept. 19, 2009)
3. Mamadou Niang (Marseille v Montpellier, Sept. 19, 2009)
4. Chris Brunt (Middlesbrough v West Brom, Sept. 19, 2009) (pictured)
5. Fernando Torres (West Ham v Liverpool, Sept. 19, 2009)
6. Carlos Sanchez (Sochaux v Valenciennes, Sept. 19, 2009) (2 minutes in)
7. Duda (Malaga v Racing Santander, Sept. 19, 2009)
8. Emanuel Rivas (Bari v Atalanta, Sept. 20, 2009)
9. Daniele De Rossi (Roma v Fiorentina, Sept. 20, 2009)
10. Craig Bellamy (Manchester United v Manchester City, Sept. 20, 2009)
Having missed out a goal or two at first instance (cheers for the comments below), we also feel due attention has to be given to Adriano as the Brazilian Emperor scored a delightful chip against Coritiba at the weekend. The goal can be seen here.