Referee Martin Atkinson made no new friends in Tottenham yesterday (April 16), after his controversial decision helped Chelsea overcome Spurs in their FA Cup semi-final.
With Spurs already 0 – 1 down, Atkinson made the call in the 48th minute that a shot from Juan Mata would classify as a goal, despite the ball never crossing the line. The moment is viewable in the below video (starts at around the 0:54 mark):
Although Chelsea went on to win 1 – 5 it is Atkinson's decision that will surely linger in the minds of Spurs fans, with the referee now even apologising for his mistake. Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp admitted he had been in conversation with the much-maligned official after the match, saying: “Atkinson’s watched it now and says he feels worse than I do. I said, ‘I don’t think so’, but he says he feels bad. He knows he’s made a mistake and he says he’ll have a bad week as well.
“I don’t see how he can give the goal – it’s nowhere near over the line. It’s not as if it’s gone in and someone’s kicked it away. There were bodies on the line and the ball couldn’t possibly get over the line."
Redknapp used Atkinson's mistake as an example for goal-line technology being introduced into football: “There’s nothing we can do about it now. Goal-line technology has to come into the game. You can’t keep having situations like that. You can’t carry on like this, with important decisions not being correct."
However, he also conceded that Atkinson had "just made an honest mistake", adding: “Refs don’t make mistakes purposefully. I never had a clue from where I was sitting. I’m nowhere near the goal.
“I couldn’t tell the difference from there but you could tell from the reaction of the players it wasn’t. It obviously wasn’t. But we have to pick ourselves up, we have to get fourth spot in the league. It won’t be easy but I hope we can do it."
Unfortunately, the Spurs/Chelsea game wasn't the only match yesterday that featured a controversial decision made by a referee, as Manchester United's 4 – 0 victory against Aston Villa saw the red devils awarded a penalty following a theatrical dive in the box from Ashley Young.
Although manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been keen to dissuade the belief that big-name teams such as United and Chelsea aren't favoured by referees, he may find that proving this to fans following yesterdays debacle a much more arduous task.