No one likes referees at the best of times, but a top-flight official in Argentina was about as popular as a Robbie Savage BBC podcast last month following his actions on and off the pitch in a Primera Division clash between San Lorenzo and Colon in Buenos Aires.
First, he awarded a goal after all the players had stopped for an offside flag, then he taunted the team’s fans after the match. Fortunately, he stopped short of doing a big poo on a picture of Lionel Messi while surrendering the Falklands to the British.
Colon were looking for an equaliser with just over 20 minutes left, but their latest attack seemed to fizzle out when winger Federico Higuain was flagged for offside on the wing. With the linesman’s flag raised, the players stopped and walked upfield for an expected free-kick. But Higuain had already crossed before he realised this – and Colon striker Ariel Garce tapped the incoming ball home without any hope it would be awarded as a goal.
The referee, Diego Abal, saw things differently, however, and did not blow up – then pointed to the centre spot to indicate Garce’s strike would stand. It was enough to earn Colon a 1-1 draw. San Lorenzo’s fans tried to attack the controversial official after the match as police escorted him home. And as he got into the police car, Abal was seen making “inppropriate gestures” – namely a thumbs-down sign – to fans, players and officials, sparking further fury. “We are verifying this with the use of video. He apparently did it as he was getting in the vehicle,” club president Carlos Abdo confirmed. “The minimum that we will request is for Abal to be stopped from officiating.”
It’s understood the English FA have already offered Abal a post as head of the referee’s association on the back of his clownish performance.