Since its introduction in 1992, millions of soccer fans have been looking forward to the UEFA Champions League every year. There is no doubt that this tournament is one of the most prestigious in the world. The Champions League has established its presence since it replaced European Cup.
And just like with any other international competitions, we are served with so many moments that will forever be etched in the soccer history book. Any tournament won’t be as successful and most followed if it is void of controversial moments. These moments keep their fans on the edge as they watch every second of it as it happens.
Below are some of the most controversial moments in the history of UEFA Champions League that really made an impact to the fans.
Ghost Goal (2005)
Also known as the phantom goal, a ghost goal is a questionable goal that often involves uncertainty as to whether or not a ball crossed the goal line. It may be awarded incorrectly without the ball ever crossing the goal-line. The term can also be applied when the referee was unable to see the ball crossing the goal-line.
One of the strongest argument about ghost goal being implemented was during the 2005 Champions League final when Luis Garcia scored a ‘Ghost Goal’ at the expense of Chelsea. A ruling that ball crossed the goal line was implemented which made Liverpool possible to progress to the final in Istanbul. Numerous slow-motion replays and television graphics later showed that the ball probably never did cross the line.
Fortunately though, this incident gave Liverpool one of the most iconic comebacks in modern football history.
Expulsion of Marseille (1993)
Back in 1993, Marseille were the inaugural winners of the Champions League and the only French club that hold the title of continental championship in the entire history of the European Cup. Their triumphant record though is marred of bribery scandal and match fixing.
Just a few days prior to the Champions League final, Marseille player Jean-Jacques Eydelie was ordered by controversial president Bernard Tapie to contact two players on the Valenciennes team and bribe them. Marseille must beat Valenciennes to secure the championship; the said bribery asked the Valenciennes players to “go easy” on them so as not to inflict any injuries on the Marseille squad.
Eventually, this outrageous scandal came out and it cost Marseille a lot. Not only they were stripped of their domestic title, they were also banned from playing in the European Super Cup, Champions League and Intercontinental Cup the following season. Though they still have the Champions League trophy, this glory is now forever tainted.
The Quitting of Anders Frisk (2005)
Anders Frisk was a respected Swedish referee who was in charge of the first leg of Chelsea’s dramatic Champions League tie against Barcelona. He expressed his intention to quit following the said incident after he received death threats from English fans.
Fans were mad at him for sending off Chelsea striker Didier Drogba in the match at the Nou Camp when the London side was leading 1-0. Chelsea eventually lost 2-1. This angered Chelsea fans in Spain which allegedly sent Frisk and his family death threats by telephone, e-mail and letter. He announced his immediate retirement just a few weeks later.
“The game is just not worth all that,” 42-year-old Frisk said on the Swedish football federation website. “The safety of my family is more important than anything.”
Click here to know more about the performance and achievement of Anders Frisk.
It’s Too Noisy in Here! (2011)
Arsenal’s Robin van Persie was sent off in the Champions League match against Barcelona in probably one of the most ridiculous sending-off in football history.
Having already been issued a yellow card, Van Persie ok a through ball down the center of the pitch and launched a shot on goal. The referee had blown his whistle flagging him as offside. He failed to hear the whistle though, claiming that the deafening screams of over 100,000 fans in the stands at Nou Camp makes hearing the whistle impossible.
“In my opinion it was a total joke, the sending‑off. How can I hear his whistle with 95,000 people jumping up. How can I hear that, for God’s sake? Please explain me that,” he complained afterwards.
Regardless, he was still issued his second yellow and sent off for delaying the game. After several replays of the game, even if van Persie had heard the whistle, the time between the whistle and van Persie’s shot was a mere second. Many fans feel that this was a very dubious decision and a terrible call.
Nani Sees Red (2013)
Many believe that the red card awarded to Manchester United midfielder Nani was the key moment in the Red Devils’ 2-1 loss to Real Madrid. The decision of Cuneyt Cakir to issue a red card to Manchester United winger Nani is already being written into Champions League history as the game-changer that led to the advancement of Real Madrid and the exit of Manchester United.
United was already leading with 1-0; Cakir gave Nani a red card in the 56th minute after the United player stretched his leg to try to control the ball but caught Alvaro Arbeloa in the chest with the studs of his right boot. Madrid then proceeded to score two quick goals and won 2-1, advancing further to the quarterfinals 3-2.
Nani has begged for forgiveness after getting himself sent off. He said, “I recognise that my action was a thoughtless one, but I also have to say that I was provoked and attacked. I know it serves as no excuse, but that’s exactly what happened. .. I want to publicly ask for forgiveness, firstly of my team-mates, who were forced into a greater effort during more than 60 minutes, secondly of my manager and coaches, and thirdly of the United fans who have given me so much affection.”
Fans have mixed reactions to the sending off; others are saying that it’s the right decision while others claim that it’s a disgrace.
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