Aw, ref! 5 Worst refereeing calls of all time


In the history of sports, bad calls in important games live on in infamy on the Internet, where every play from every angle can be viewed again and again, and debated over until blue in the face.

Here are five of the worst.

The Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz – NBA Finals Series 1998

Forget Michael Jordan’s basketball return in 2001 to the Washington Wizards. Real NBA fans count his jump shot over Bryon Russell to be his last professional shot. With six seconds left on the clock and Jordan at the top of the three point line, he drives to the right, clearly pushes and fouls Bryon Russell, Utah’s best defender, away to give himself space then jumps and shoots. The Chicago Bulls won the game 87-86 and the series, delivering MJ his sixth and final crown.

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Roy Jones Jr vs Park Si Hun – Gold medal match in boxing 1988 Olympics

When it comes to boxing, images of Don King with his electrified hair and shady dealings normally come to mind. But in this case it was the amateur Olympics. Having landed 54 more punches (86 to 32), and clearly being the aggressor, the future American heavyweight champion still lost, and was awarded silver. The three judges unanimously gave it to the South Korean, but later resigned their roles.

The Korean, embarrassed by his victory, apologised to Jones.

North QLD Cowboys v Cronulla Sharks – NRL Finals 2013

In one of the crucial matches of the 2013 season, an elimination final between the Cronulla Sharks and North Queensland Cowboys, referees Matt Cecchin and Henry Peranara counted tackles incorrectly, allowing Beau Ryan to score in the eighth minute on a seventh tackle. Only six are allowed in a rugby league set.

The Sharks went on to win 20-18.

During the heated post match press conference, Cowboys coach Neil Henry was rightfully angry, going so far as to claim conspiracy, so the rugby league final would be held in Sydney.

Both referees were dropped immediately after the match.

Gold medal round – Women’s figure skating Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

Controversy involving the Sochi games was mostly off the rink, as the world watched with alarm as Ukrainian protestors were killed in anti Russian protests.

On the rink, controversy skated circles around the gold medal round of the women’s figure skating.

The Korean red hot favourite Kim Yu na was awarded silver, despite a mistake free final performance.

Her main rival Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova made a mistake when she two footed a combination jump. She went on to win gold, in a performance seen live in the rink by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The 17 year old Russian’s total score was 18 points higher than her previous best, which she scored a month before Sochi.

While technically not a refereeing blunder, scoring in skating has been mired in controversy. Scores are awarded anonymously by countries, whose judges often have conflicts of interest. Judges for the gold medal round, included Ukrainian Yuri Balkov who was suspended for a year when caught on tape trying to fix the 1998 Olympic ice dancing competition. Another  judge, Alla Shekhovtseva was the wife of Valentin Piseev, the general director of the Russian skating federation

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USA vs the USSR – Gold medal basketball game 1972

The final few minutes of the game, in Munich, against the backdrop of the cold war, were a comedy of errors, some argue were deliberate. With less than ten seconds to play and down 49 to 48, US guard Doug Collins shot two free throws to put the US up by one. The buzzer signalling the end of the match blew during Collins’s free throws, and so the US understandably started celebrating.

What followed were umpire decisions which added more time not once, but twice, both of three seconds. On the second chance the Russians scored the winning basket and won 50 to 49.

It was the first time the Americans had lost an Olympic match, and so incensed were they by the decision, they did not attend the medal ceremony.

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Featured image: Korean favourite Kim Yu na was awarded silver in Sochi, despite a mistake-free final performance. Photo: KOREA.NET/flickr

3 Replies to “Aw, ref! 5 Worst refereeing calls of all time

  1. South Korea’s Yuna Kim showed in the 2014 Olympics an understated yet breathtakingly beautiful programs. Her free skate was just as striking as her 2007 tango but this shows a level of sophistication and finesse that cannot be matched. It’s funny how she has always been known as the “whole package” (a “phenom” as Scott Hamilton once said) superior both artistically AND technically but after the Sochi games there are those who try to downplay her technical abilities perhaps to justify the Russian skater’s marks. If the judge’s were fair, she would have scored much higher in grade of execution and overall performance.

  2. The spell of ‘Kim Nu Ya’ was wrong.

    ‘Kim Yu na’ is right .

    Please make the correction.

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