Penalty or Not? Howard Webb and Luis Suarez

I always know I’m in for a treat when I come home from the movies, check my blog’s stats and find the search term: “Is Howard Webb a cheat?”

This is obviously about the Arsenal v. Liverpool match in the FA Cup Fifth Round. Webb was the referee, and he had plenty to deal with, including Raheem Sterling pushing him in the chest. (Really, Raheem?)

There were two trips in the box on Luis Suarez, one at around 58 minutes and one at around 64. Webb gave a penalty kick for the first, which Steven Gerrard converted. Here’s the foul:

peno-3

At this point, the score was 2-1, Arsenal. When Suarez went down the second time, Webb refused to give the penalty which could have tied the match.

Arsenal held on to win and advance.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Luis Suarez is as big of an actor as Chico Flores, and he was tumbling around the pitch the whole match. It was very clear that Webb was sick of him by the end.

He’s become known for trying to get penalties out of nothing and his theatrics don’t win him any points with the referees. Is this fair? Is it right? No. But refs aren’t immune to feeling like they’re being cheated, and his insistence on overdramatizing everything doesn’t really help Suarez’s cause.

That said, I’ve looked at this from all angles and…

I just don’t understand how it’s not a penalty. It looks even worse than the one he actually gave. I have seen one replay from Webb’s point of view, and it is a little hard to see the knee come in from that angle. But that’s why he has linesmen.

Here’s the disputed call:

peno1

I think Webb blew this one, and it’s a shame because things could have been very different.

If you disagree, please let me know.

That said, in answer to the question of “Is Howard Webb a cheat?” I emphatically don’t believe he is. I think he’s human. He has been doing this for too long, and he’s going into his final years (year?). He has no reason to cheat and he has a reputation at stake that he wants to keep shiny.

He’s not a cheat. He just got this one wrong.

Get over it.

Now for something completely different: My friends and I were super excited to see Lukasz Fabianski in goal for Arsenal, since he has our all-time favorite footballer nickname: Flappyhandski. (He definitely lived up to that today.)

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