Following Barcelona’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against PSG last week, it has been announced that the Catalan club has lodged a formal complaint to UEFA about referee Wolfgang Stark.
The complaint centres around Stark’s refusal to stop the game when Barcelona defenders Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba collided and fell to the ground; and his refusal to let the players return to the field following treatment as PSG prepared to take a corner.
Barcelona spokesman Toni Freixa explained that the complaint was not with the referee’s performance as such, more his apparent failure to understand the laws of the game; which is probably for the best from the club who benefited from a rather befuddling refereeing performance in the 2009 Champions League semi-final at Stamford Bridge.
Whatever the complaint, and however cannily it may be termed, Barcelona have merely experienced what countless sides have done over the years.
And the fact that the La Liga leaders are also unhappy about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s off-side goal speaks of a side who are complaining not so much about a misunderstanding of the game’s rules, but of the game itself.
What must Sir Alex Ferguson be thinking in light of Barcelona’s complaint, when the mere mention of Nani’s red card against Real Madrid is sure to sting for years to come?
In short, clubs from every country and every level suffer these inconsistencies. Every rule is an equal rule, or at least it should be. So to complain when the game isn’t stopped, or because an off-side wasn’t flagged, is no different from complaining when a penalty isn’t given, or when a foul goes unpunished.
That Barcelona rarely complain about a referee probably has something to do with the fact that they often win regardless. When they don’t, their complaint is only newsworthy because it speaks of a club who are used to dictating their own games having one, at least partially, dictated to them.
It seems unlikely that anything will come of their complaint. Any injustice they feel would be better used as motivation for the second leg.
Perhaps every side should complain when a referee doesn’t do what they are supposed to. Then again, where would they find the time?
What do you think of Barcelona's complaints? Have they just suffered what is a part of the game?
image: © HowardLake