What happened when Polish match officials were invited to take charge in Greece? | Soccer

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What happened when Polish match officials were invited to take charge in Greece? | Soccer

Football Daily


An apparently foolproof solution regularly mooted by those fed up with what they perceive to be the abject standard of refereeing in the English top flight is to outsource the job to foreign match officials, because they never get anything wrong. Not Jarred Gillett, an Australian once held up as the standard-bearer for how the job should be done after a flamin’ clip of him in action during an A-League game went viral, but who has been embroiled in more than his fair share of controversies since hitching his Ute to the PGMOL wagon. Not the Spanish match officials who have brandished an astonishing 95 red cards in La Liga already this season, compared to the 24 shown by their counterparts in the Premier League. And not the Brazilian fellow who incensed so many English players, pundits, hacks and fans with his performance in the HR World Cup quarter-final against France. No, foreign whistleblowers are contention-proof and we need more of them coming over here, taking our referees’ jobs.

Then again, take a look at Greece, where an epic palaver erupted over the officiating arrangements for last weekend’s Super League match between AEK and Aris. With the Greek top flight entering its playoff stage, the national FA’s head of refereeing Steve Bennett – who incurred more than his fair share of fan opprobrium during 25 years as a ref in England – invited a team of Polish match officials to take charge. After all, what could possibly go wrong? And so it came to pass that longtime Fifa-lister Pawel Raczkowski and four colleagues duly touched down in Athens, where they were immediately accused of playing fast and loose with the contents of their flight’s booze trolley, drunkenly traducing the quality of Greek football and becoming embroiled in a row with a passenger who claimed to be a Panathinaikos fan. While it is important to note these are allegations Raczkowski and his associates strenuously deny, they were subsequently relieved of their duties by Bennett and replaced with a team of homegrown Greek officials, who oversaw a 3-1 win for AEK.

Pawel Raczkowski, earlier. Photograph: Srđan Stevanović/Getty Images

The late replacement of Raczkowski and chums prompted a furious reaction from AEK’s title rivals Olympiakos, who claimed the entire incident had been fabricated so that Greek referees could be appointed to the game, the tacit suggestion being that they would give AEK an easier ride. Owned by Evangelos Marinakis, whose football club portfolio also includes Nottingham Forest, Olympiakos have previously labelled Bennett “corrupt” after their B team refused to emerge for the second half of a game he was reffing, so aggrieved were they by a number of decisions that went against them in the opening 45 minutes.

“It’s all absolutely 100% false,” sighed Raczkowski, dismissing reports of his inebriation as fake news in quotes attributed to him by Britain’s super soaraway Star. “We were not drunk, we did not attack anyone, we were attacked by someone on the plane. He told me that he is a fan of Panathinaikos and that he will destroy me in the media. He then spat in my face and punched me in the back near the head at the airport. Any information you get from this man is not true.” Raczkowski’s Polish bosses are reported to have claimed that their man and his assistants were stood down because of the media circus surrounding their alleged antics, and not because there was any substance to rumours regarding their behaviour. While the events of the weekend remain shrouded in uncertainty, Football Daily presumes Howard Webb is currently ringing around all parties concerned to apologise.


Join Scott Murray from 8pm BST for hot Big Cup coverage of Real Madrid 4-1 Chelsea, while Will Unwin will also be on deck for Milan 1-2 Napoli.


“Unfortunately beating England doesn’t win us anything – I wouldn’t be here if it did, I’d be out celebrating … It’s always nice to beat a top team. But we better take everything with a grain of salt before the World Cup” – Sam Kerr keeps her flamin’ feet on the ground after Australia ended England’s 30-match unbeaten run with a 2-0 victory.

Sam Kerr gets her celebration on after scoring the opener. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images


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After reading David Squires’ mind-bending timeline alterations (yesterday’s Recommended Looking), if we learned anything from Everything Everywhere All at Once it’s that to change your timeline, you do something completely incongruous with your current place in time. Here’s me waiting for the jump to a better timeline if Frank Lampard is a three-time quadruple manager come 2027. Should happen sooner than James Corden being funny” – Todd Van Allen.

I’ve no idea what PGMOL is, but I guess Howard Webb was the referee who gave Spurs fans like me the false sensation they’re worth a place in the top four. They aren’t, and shame on Webb for fooling us all” – Marcio Aquino.

Send your letters to Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Todd Van Allen.

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