Players vs. Referees – 5 times they came to blows

Who would be a football referee? It’s a good question. They are abused from the terraces whilst the treatment that referees get from the players often isn’t much better, especially when they make a shocking decision. Most of them take the verbal onslaughts on the chin but occasionally the boundaries of what is acceptable is pushed slightly too far. We decided to take a look at five times when players and referees came to blows.

5 times players and referees got physical

5. Darren Drysdale vs. Alan Judge

We’ll kick off our top five with the inspiration behind the article. Last week, Ipswich Town of England’s third tier faced lowly Northampton. The game was petering out to an inevitable 0-0, which was far from the result Ipswich had wanted after a tough spell on and off the pitch. The Tractor Boys were one of the divisions fancied sides in August but a poor run of form has seen calls for a managerial change with flairs being set off at the training ground in protest.

Needless to say, Paul Lambert’s men were in need of a win. As full time neared, Alan Judge hit the deck in the area. Referee Darren Drysdale, who has officiated players in the Premier League previously, didn’t signal for a spot kick but did confront Judge over – what we assume – was a verbal dig or two. Rather than simply yield a yellow card, Drysdale shoved his face into that of the Ipswich midfielder. Very bizarre behaviour and he’s not overseen a game since.

4. Tony Chapron vs. Diego Carlos

At number four in our list of players vs. referees we turn our attention to Ligue 1 of France and take you back to January 2018. Paris Saint Germain had made the 240 mile trip to Nantes, hoping to make it four wins from as many matches. Things got off to a good start for them too as Angel Di Maria netted a beautifully constructed goal after 12 minutes.

It would prove the only goal of the affair but, come the final whistle, nobody cared about that. In the first minute of injury time Diego Carlos, now of Sevilla, was red carded. It wasn’t your standard sending off though.

With the hosts pushing for a leveller, PSG countered. Centre back Carlos, who had already been booked, was running back towards his goal when Chapron stepped across him. Naturally, the ref went tumbling over. Chapron didn’t see the funny side. Rather than acknowledge it was his fault he kicked out at Carlos and showed him a second yellow. Carlos then shoved the ref and amongst a melee of players that was that. Chapron was suspended and subsequently retired

3. Paul Alcock vs. Paolo Di Canio

We’re back in England again. This time our eyes are on the iconic name of Paolo Di Canio, hardly one of the hardest footballers in history, and, in particular, his infamous shove on Paul Alcock during his Sheffield Wednesday spell.

It’s a largely forgotten fact of that day in late September 1998 that the Owls would go on to beat the league and cup double holders – Arsenal. It’s worth noting the Gunners missed out on the title by one point that season. Really, the North London side should have won as they played over half the match against 10 men.

How did the sending off unfold? It was late in the first half when Patrick Vieira was fouled by Wim Jonk. The Arsenal tough man went OTT with his reaction as he threw Jonk to the floor and, before you know it, all 20 outfield players were huddled round. Di Canio and Martin Keown took centre stage with the fiery Italian firing a low kick at Keown before gouging at his eye.

Alcock had no choice but to reach for the red card. Di Canio shoved him and Alcock comically fell to the floor. Di Canio was banned for 11 matches.

2. Unknown Ref vs. Antonio Ferreira

It had to be good to beat the Di Canio incident but, believe us, Antonio Ferreira’s antics are deservingly ahead on our countdown of five times players and refs came to blows.

Guarani knew they had won promotion out of Brazil’s Serie C – the third tier – when they locked horns with Boa Esporte in the final game of the 2016 campaign. Things were hardly going to script for Guarani on the day, with Braian Samudio and Fellipe Mateus scoring two fantastic strikes to give the new champions a mountain to climb. Shortly after the interval that mountain ascent became an avalanche of chaos.

Ferreira was accused of throwing an elbow at his opponent. The ref did not hesitate to show the red card and whilst the player had a case that he hadn’t done anything wrong in the challenge his reaction took all credibility away. With two hands – and a lot of force – he sent the official crashing to the floor but rather than leave it he then tried to fight with several of his own teammates who had intervened. We dread to think how messy their promotion party got!

1. Gabriel Murta Vs Everyone

Antonio Ferreira would have been all set for top spot but for the crazy actions of another incident from Brazil. Specifically, we’re looking at Brazilian referee Gabriel Murta from 2015.

Brumadinho and Amantes de Bola, two non-league sides in the Belo Horizonte area, were taking part in a fiery affair that turned sour when Murta was subjected to verbal abuse from the Amantes de Bola manager and assaulted with a punch and kick combo by one of their players. With ‘controlling the situation’ at the forefront of the official’s mind he made his way back to the dressing room.

Seconds later, he returned to the field of play with a gun. Yes, an actual gun! Murta also worked as a police officer and wanted to place the player responsible for his assault under arrest. Unfortunately, he’d scarpered leaving Murta to confront the team’s gaffer instead. Thankfully, no shots were fired but, insanely, the league backed the ref because ‘he acted in self-defence’. A fitting number one on out list of players vs. referees getting physical.


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