Refs behaving badly: 9 times the men in the middle went too far

From f-word rants, to full-on haymakers, to a failure of humour: what happens when the man in the middle fights back?

After this Russian ref got physical with a player before brandishing his cards, FourFourTwo examines the times refs have bitten back – or at least when they’ve been alleged to. Little double about it in the case of Saad Al Fadhli, mind you…

Kuwaiti ref goes kamikaze

The Kuwait Premier League was the scene of a real kicking off during a match between Al-Nasr and Al-Arabi in 2013.

Trouble was brewing when referee Saad Al Fadhli awarded a penalty to Al-Arabi which infuriated the home team, who surrounded and pushed the official.

They wished they hadn’t: Al Fadhli swung a retaliatory, Anthony Joshua-style left hook to floor Al-Nasr player Abdulaziz Farraj. After much writhing, Farraj eventually got back up, only to receive a kick by the furious ref who subsequently dismissed him.

Al-Arabi promptly scored the penalty, but Al-Nasr’s Zabn al-Enazi took out retribution by kicking the ball at the pugilistic official on resumption, earning himself a red card in the process. Al Fadhli had punched himself out and abandoned the game, which Al-Arabi officially won 4-1.

Claus Bo Larsen vs Paolo Di Canio

Di Canio claimed the referee “used bad words” against him during West Ham’s UEFA Cup defeat against Steaua Bucharest in 1999.

The fiery Italian alleged that Danish referee Claus Bo Larsen had called him “a bastard” twice and said that he should be removed before he got sent off – advice quickly acted upon by Hammers boss Harry Redknapp, who knew a thing or two about difficult foreigners.

Larsen denied that he had insulted the player: “I didn’t say ‘get up bastard’, I said ‘get the f*** up’.” That’s cleared that up, then.

Luis Godinho: the Portuguese Mike Dean

In a Portuguese League Cup tie in January against Moreirense, Porto’s Danilo was already on a yellow when ref Luis Godinho (dubbed the Portuguese Mike Dean by The Mirror) jogged backwards straight into the midfielder. Stunned by this juddering but purely accidental loss of dignity, Godinho decided to go all-out authoritarian and produced a second yellow.