"You cannot be serious!" - Lecce's Juan Cuadrado

Too often we see players go down easily in the box. It’s pointless to wring our hands in disgust when it happens, the practice is widely taught at most of the finest football school’s in the world. Rather than scold the players, which is pretty useless in the grand scheme of things, our vitriol should be directed towards the officials who reward the actors for their shameless antics.

Being a football referee is not easy. I was terrified during and after my one and only appearance as the future Howard Webb. And the players were 10 years old. However, too often match officials make their jobs more difficult than needed. For your latest example we take you to Norway’s fifth division and a game between Sandved and Ild.

Reuters Phillip O’Connor has the bizarre details:

A player in the Norwegian fifth division has been sent off for protesting against being awarded a penalty.
Talat Abunima was playing for Sandved against Ild when he went down in the box.”I went past an Ild player and then tripped over my own feet. It was unbelievably clumsy of me and when the referee pointed to the spot I felt I had to speak out,” Abunima told local newspaper Sandnesposten. Referee Nedzad Munjic disagreed, telling news website VG Nett (www.vg.no): “It was a clear penalty. The player got it all wrong – I don’t think the players know the rules properly. And when I’ve blown the whistle, I can’t change my mind.” Munjic first gave Abunima a yellow card for protesting and when the 36-year-old continued to argue against the decision to award him a spot kick, he was sent off.

It seems Mr. Munjic didn’t know the rules either. The head of the Norwegian Referees’ Association said he could have changed his mind. Unfortunately the rest of his actions, including that post match rant, screamed of pettiness. Talat Abunima tried to do the right thing and it resulted in his banishment from the match. It makes zero sense.

Up 3-1, Sandved’s player-coach Oyvind Svenning missed the penalty on purpose. Ild then took a player off to even the sides at 10 for each team – a truly heartwarming gesture. What followed reminds us that doing good things is a terrible idea. Embrace your inner Murdoch.

During the closing moments of the match Munjic awarded two penalties to Ild. They converted both and tied the game. Unsurprisingly, the referee drew heated criticism from Sandved’s players. Criticism that he couldn’t fathom:

“I don’t really understand that. First he shoots wide on purpose, then he complains when the other team scores. It’s hopeless.”

They aren’t the hopeless one’s, Nedzad.