Football is back and referees are the scapegoats…
08:32 GMT, 12 September 2012
Roy Hodgson showed the football public that the Olympic spirit certainly does not extend to football.
He berated Turkish referee, Cuneyt Cakir, after the game at Wembley on the pitch and bemoaned his decisions again in his post-match interview.
Just 24 hours previously, a million fans had flocked to London to celebrate a summer of achievement by our fantastic Team GB Olympians and Paralympic athletes.
Have a word: Hodgson held the referee culpable for a number of decisions at Wembley
But that was all forgotten as England salvaged a late draw in our first home qualifier for the FIFA World Cup 2014. I watch England like most, full of hope but little expectation; urging us to play as I know we can.
There were plenty of big decisions and I thought Cakir got every one of them right.
First we saw a fantastic effort from Jermaine Defoe ruled out for a foul in the build-up; I had heard the whistle long before Defoe unleashed the unstoppable shot.
Replays showed that Ukraine player Andriy Yarmolenko was pushed by Defoe – a rugby style hand off which is not permitted in Association Football.
Yarmolenko's reaction was pathetic but not uncommon on our Premier League pitches: clutching his face as if struck by Defoe and rolling around as if in agony.
Hand off: Defoe's strike (below) was chalked off for pushing his opponent in the face (above)
It is the Ukrainian who should have incurred the wrath of Hodgson and indeed the ITV commentator whose condemnation of Cakir was ill-informed and monotonously repeated.
FIFA referees are instructed to protect players with particular offences highlighted, one of which is the illegal use of the arms and elbows. Cakir was consistent and correct in his application of these instructions.
Careless use of the arm in an aerial challenge resulting in an opponent being struck should be a yellow card. Violent use of the arm, often raised with a clenched fist indicating intent to harm, must result in a red.
James Milner and Steven Gerrard were clearly guilty of the first category offence and were rightly cautioned.
Knowing that, England captain Gerrard, who had played superbly, was taking a massive gamble by committing a late, lunging challenge which had to result in a second yellow and red card.
Clumsy: Gerrard was handed his marching orders after committing two yellow card offences
To commit the offence in such an advanced position on the field was rash at best and left Cakir with no option but to dismiss.
Finally onto the penalty claims of which there were two and both for England. The second was clear enough as Danny Welbeck shot and Ukraine defender Yevhen Khacheridi blocked with an unnaturally positioned arm – clear enough as it was in England's favour.
The first appeal was fascinating as on first viewing and at full speed it looked as though Welbeck had been tripped when trailing 0-1.
Replays though showed that Cakir, superbly positioned, was absolutely correct to wave aside appeals as Welbeck simulated contact. Welbeck should have been cautioned for diving.
Had a Ukrainian done the same he would have been condemned but as Welbeck is English there was no mention of his duplicitous act.
Football is back and referees are the scapegoats – how I enjoyed the summer of sport.
Handball! England drew level late in the game courtesy of Lampard's penalty