Galatasaray were done wrong in yesterday’s Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid.
No, they didn’t deserve to win but trigger-happy referee Svein Oddvar Moen (pictured) did leave the Turkish side in a much less enviable position than they deserved. While Moen had more than a few head-scratching incidents his decision in the 77th minute is what really chafes my bum.
Already down 3-0, Galatasaray’s Felipe Melo played a crafty ball to the top of the Madrid penalty area directly into the path of Burak Yilmaz’ diagonal run. The Turkish international collected the pass, moved to the left side of the box and squared himself to goal. Madrid defender Sergio Ramos closed Yilmaz down and launched into a tackle forcing the Gala striker to take another touch to the left. His touch appeared to let him down, the ball rolled out for a goal kick and Yilmaz went to ground in a heap of pain. Moen was having none of it and immediately showed Yilmaz the yellow card.
For Yilmaz, it was a horrible end to a horrible night. He’d hardly seen the ball up until that point and the yellow card meant he wouldn’t be participating in the second leg due to accumulation. At first glance, it looked like a clear simulation by Yilmaz, desperate to draw a penalty. Even the commentators were fooled, noting that the striker “has gone to ground much too easily.”
The problem was Yilmaz didn’t dive. Replays clearly show that Ramos mistimed his tackle, stomping hard on Yilmaz’ right foot. It wasn’t a dirty tackle but it was undoubtedly a foul and a painful one at that. Galatasaray should have been awarded a penalty, which, if converted, would have completely changed the complexion of the second leg in Istanbul on April 9. Not only would the Turks hold a massively important away goal but they would welcome Madrid “To Hell” with the influential Yilmaz leading the line. The ramifications of Moen’s oversight can’t be understated.
I hate when players dive. If a referee is clever enough to notice simulation during a match, it has to be a yellow card. Simple as that. If this standard is upheld from top to bottom throughout the game, I’m convinced that this snake tactic will be ousted from the sport. To be fair, we’ve already come a long way. Over the last few seasons referees have grown more and more confident in penalizing divers and the results have been tremendous.
Teams that were once inherently linked with diving – the Argentinas and Italys of the world – have been forced to reinvent themselves, much for the better of the team and the game. Of course, not everyone has come full circle. Clubs like Barcelona (yeah I said it, Barcelona) are still too quick to go to ground in a bid to get calls. But in general, diving in world football is quickly becoming a thing of the past. It would be hard to argue that eradicating diving from the game hasn’t helped propel it forward – especially in places like the United States where diving has always been a cardinal sin amongst soccer lovers and a source of ridicule for the passive sports fan.
But going hand-in-hand with the referee’s duty to caution players who are guilty of simulation is the burden of getting the call correct. It’s a sizable burden. And when refs fail to meet that burden governing bodies like the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body have to get it right.
In the case of Yilmaz’ card, Galatasaray must file a complaint with the CDB to have the card rescinded so the player can be available for the second leg against Madrid. If the CDB gets it wrong, Gala then has three days to appeal the decision to the UEFA Appeals Body. This is a no-brainer for Fatih Terim’s side. Heck, I’ll file the complaint for them.
It’s just a shame that nothing can be done about that missed penalty.