Red card day for refs

Halsey admits to changing his mind at Cottage after pressure from players as Coleman, Mourinho and Moyes hit out
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The Independent Online

"Why do players crowd round the referee after he has given a penalty? He's not going to change his mind." Mark Halsey all but gave the lie to that accepted notion at Craven Cottage when he thought better of awarding a penalty to Fulham during their 3-0 defeat by Arsenal because of the reaction from the players.

"Why do players crowd round the referee after he has given a penalty? He's not going to change his mind." Mark Halsey all but gave the lie to that accepted notion at Craven Cottage when he thought better of awarding a penalty to Fulham during their 3-0 defeat by Arsenal because of the reaction from the players.

If the Football Association thought the international week just gone was busy enough, with two internationals punctuated by criticism of the England team and a communal cry of "no comment" from the players in response, then they could face an even more hectic one coming up. The Halsey incident was not the only one to have managers fuming.

Chris Coleman, the Fulham manager, was incensed by Halsey's performance, in which he also turned down a confident penalty appeal by Arsenal and disallowed a "goal" by Fulham's Collins John. Halsey explained his first penalty ruling by saying: "A challenge came in from Ashley Cole on Andy Cole. My initial reaction was, 'Penalty'. But the players' reactions from both sides put a little bit of doubt in my mind. I thought, 'Have I got this decision correct?' If I gave the penalty, I then had to think about whether to dismiss Ashley Cole. I needed to buy a little bit of time so I went across to my assistant, Dave Bryan. He informed me that Andy Cole had played the ball into Jens Lehmann's hands."

And if the players had not kicked up a fuss? "Player reaction put a doubt in my mind." He finally decided that Ashley Cole had missed the ball and missed Andy Cole. So no penalty. And while Arsenal thought they deserved a penalty for a foul on Thierry Henry, Halsey said: "You can see a clear deflection of the ball." So no penalty again.

Coleman said: "He was crap. He said that he disallowed the penalty because of the reaction of my players and the Arsenal players. Did anyone see my players ask him not to give a penalty? I'm amazed by that. The referee held his hand up and said he got it wrong. I respect that, but it doesn't matter. He still got it wrong."

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea's Portuguese manager, joined the chorus of disapproval after the 0-0 draw at Aston Villa, in which Didier Drogba was denied a penalty by the referee, Rob Styles. Mourinho savaged Premiership refereeing, saying: "In some countries I think it would have been two penalties - it's ridiculous. What I see week after week I cannot be polite and communicate about, maybe I have to jump and make noise and bring the public with me to put pressure on referees."

David Moyes was an exception, not because he liked the refereeing of Everton's game at Manchester City, but because they won and he was still critical. Steve Bennett sent off Tim Cahill, booked earlier, for celebrating too enthusiastically after scoring the only goal of the game. But Moyes was backed by his opposite number, Kevin Keegan. Moyes said that even if the decision was in line with the latest ruling by the world game's governing body, Fifa, it was "ridiculous". Keegan was more forth-right. He said: "The game is going mad." Perhaps the FA will have to cancel all leave for their disciplinary panel members.

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