Graham Poll, the referee most famous for showing a player three yellows before sending him off at a World Cup, has written that Arsene Wenger should have got a six-game ban instead of four.

The Arsenal manager was charged with three infractions – swearing at Jon Moss (who wouldn’t?), refusing to leave the tunnel (he thought he could stand there) and ‘shoving’ Anthony Taylor (who shouldn’t have been in the tunnel in the first place). A four game touchline ban was probably just about right judging by how many people were outraged with it for either being too lenient or not harsh enough.

But it’s not enough for Poll.

Younger readers might not remember him as a referee but he was hateful. Speaking before the ban was announced, Poll wrote in the Daily Mail, “Arsene Wenger must surely face a lengthy touchline ban after he inexplicably went berserk and shoved fourth official Anthony Taylor.”


Now that Wenger’s punishment has been handed out, Poll had this to say in the same rag: “Arsene Wenger will be breathing a sigh of relief at getting off lightly after pushing Anthony Taylor last weekend.

“The FA imposed a four-match ban and a £25,000 fine for his conduct when I felt at least SIX games would have been more appropriate.

“The Arsenal manager may not appear happy with his punishment, but neither will referees who saw this as a real opportunity to demonstrate that laying hands on them is just not acceptable.

“When one considers that John Sheridan got a game more for verbally abusing match officials it is clear that Wenger has, not for the first time, escaped a harsher penalty.”

You know who else has escaped any sort of penalty? The officials. What was Taylor doing in the tunnel? His job is not to make sure a referee leaves the tunnel, his job is to watch the match which he cannot do from there.

I’m all for Wenger being held responsible for his actions. But I’m more than a little sick of the officials never being held responsible for theirs. Untouchable like some sort of endangered species, the reason managers lose control the majority of the time is down to poor decision making from the officials.

I’m not saying that’s an excuse, but yet again, the FA prefer to punish the reaction rather than the fire-point. They aren’t the only ones.

Poll’s ‘three cards’ were issued in the last 29 minutes of a vital group game at the World Cup in 2002 and neither his assistants or fourth official pointed out the error. After that, he was defended by FIFA Referees Committee President Angel Maria Villar Llona. Poll retired from international football immediately after, but not doubt if he had not, he would have continued to be selected.

Poll’s last season as a Premier League ref (06/07 – five years after showing he couldn’t count to two) saw him issue 166 yellows in 48 games and eight reds. He took charge of eight Arsenal games that year, issuing a total of 23 yellows (12 to Arsenal) and one red.

Source: Daily Mail [hardcopy]

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.