GRAHAM POLL: Why the fourth official was right to sort Wolves' yellow peril at Liverpool

Welcome to former World Cup referee 's exclusive online column... here every Monday throughout the season as the former top referee assesses the major stories and controversies.


Why was Phil Dowd allowed to intervene on Saturday when other fourth officials are not?

When Thierry Henry handled for France against Ireland and Reading scored their ‘phantom’ goal at Watford, even if the fourth officials had seen what had happened they would have been powerless to act.

Mick McCarthy would like FIFA to clarify when a fourth official can become involved and when they cannot. Well, FIFA has done exactly that – in the laws of the game which all managers really should have read.

Christophe Berra of Wolverhampton is booked after a case of mistaken identity  which resulted in Stephen Ward eventually get sent off

Mistaken identity: Christophe Berra (left) is booked before the referee Andre Mariner is alerted to the fact Stephen Ward had committed the foul

Up at Anfield on Saturday evening, referee Andre Marriner correctly identified a foul when Wolves defender Stephen Ward brought Lucas down.

A yellow card was appropriate punishment but Marriner hesitated when confronted by two other Wolves defenders. It appeared that they knew that Ward was already on a yellow and therefore likely to be dismissed.

They probably only wanted to protest their colleagues’ innocence but it caused Marriner to ‘lose’ the offending defender and he asked for help via his headset. Unfortunately the initial advice from his assistant resulted in Christophe Berra being cautioned – a clear case of mistaken identity.

Cue the involvement of Dowd, who according to law can assist only in cases of mistaken identity and if he witnesses violent conduct that occurs out of the view of one of the three active officials.

So, the team of officials worked together as they are required in law to ensure that the right decision was made – eventually. Any decision can be changed before the game has been restarted, so there is no rush and consultation is encouraged - the very reason why the communication systems for match officials were introduced.

There was no need for Liverpool players to surround either the referee or Rafa Benitez to attempt to pressurise Dowd to intervene. And there was certainly no need for Pepe Reina to run the full length of the pitch to become involved – indeed, on the elite referees course run by UEFA the instruction is to caution any goalkeeper who takes such action.

Pepe Reina

Protests: Pepe Reina (left) raced to join his Liverpool team-mates

Those in favour of video technology should want it so that clear and obvious errors can be corrected, just as happened at Anfield. It should not be for minute analysis of every decision which would cause massive disruption to the game we all love.

When the officials combine to get things right we should be pleased at the outcome and not attempt to belittle the referee for the initial error.

I just wish one of my three colleagues had dug me out of the mire at the last World Cup just as Dowd did for Marriner on Saturday – after all we were linked up by a communication system as well!



Common sense



Following Mike Dean’s decision not to caution Alessandro Diamanti after he had converted a penalty and celebrated with the crowd against Chelsea, it was interesting to see that neither Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas nor another West Ham player, Radoslav Kovac, were shown the yellow card for similar celebrations – a sign of things to come or a seasonal blip?

First it was Aston Villa winger Ashley Young who was booked for simulation and then Arsenal’s Alex Song in yesterday’s clash at the Emirates. Well done Phil Dowd but players will only learn if all referees are as strong as him in dealing with diving; Song walked a tightrope for the remainder of Sunday’s game while Young is now banned for his fifth yellow card of the season.

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