Top Argentine ref uses video to overturn red card, may face ban; Fair or foul?


He broke the rules to correct his mistake, and that could cost Argentina’s top referee his job for a while.

Germán Delfino saw a ball strike an arm of a player, and picked out the wrong one. That meant a second yellow card and a PK that would doom Arsenal (of Argentina) to 10 men.

Here’s the rub: Delfino’s linesman caught a glimpse of a touchline replay that showed the ball striking the arm of Arsenal’s Daniel Valencia, who was running alongside Velez Sarsfield’s Mariano Pavone. The linesman signaled to Delfino, who overturned the red and the PK, giving a yellow to Pavone instead.

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That’s where all heck broke loose, culminating with an on-field interview where Velez captain Fabian Cubero declared that “rules are rules” and the PK/red should’ve trumped the video evidence. Here’s the incident (starting at about 1:14 on the video):

Here are Delfino’s comments in the face of a possible suspension for ‘improperly’ overturning the call:

“You’ve got to be strong. I changed the decision because of my colleague, we are a team.

“If it was handball by Pavone then I’m happy that there was justice… but it was sloppy and I’m responsible.

“The procedure was horrible. It can’t happen like this.”

It’s tricky territory here. For one thing, it’s dangerous for referees to beat FIFA and other governing bodies to the use of video replay. But it was the right call. Delfino was given the information from his linesman. Was he supposed to ignore it, knowing he was wrong? Should he be suspended? Should his linesman?