A lot of Arsenal fans will rightly complain about Mr Cüneyt Çakır’s performance on Tuesday night, and it certainly was not an impressive one. But there are cultural patterns that can explain some of the officiating against Barcelona.
There is a different refereeing culture in Europe and UEFA, like FIFA, try to harmonise them during major tournaments tournaments i.e. the World Cup for FIFA, the Euros or Champions League for UEFA.
Last year at the Istria Cup, I had a chat with an international referee who was a regular with UEFA and FIFA and she told me that they are clear instructions to apply the Laws of the Games with extreme strictness and make use of the yellow and red cards.
The current rubbish refereeing standard in the Premier League comes with an astonishing laissez-faire attitude (or in another word leniency) towards physical and overly physical play means the Arsenal players pick up some bad habits and are punished when confronted with a European style refereeing.
We saw a lot of “fouls” and 50-50 challenges on Tuesday where the referees would let things go in England that are not tolerated in the Champions League. If you look at some La Liga matches and the French Ligue Un in particular, you will see a stop-start game with the referees whistling a lot more than in England.
This is mainly due to protecting teams that try to play football, something that you do not really see in England. Here referees seem to favour teams that use physical play, so it is really a cultural problem and English teams have to switch their mentality when playing in Europe.
Until Arsenal start understanding that UEFA referees are different from the English ones, they will always face the same problems.