Blundering Ligue 1 refs under scrutiny

September 16, 2008

Ligue 1 officials are set to come under further fire after a second referee in as many days admitted making a glaring error during last weekend's action.

Thierry Auriac conceded on Tuesday that he and his assistant referee were wrong to disallow a goal by St Etienne striker Bafetimbi Gomis during Sunday's league game against Caen.

Les Verts were losing 1-0 at the time, with Gomis having already had another goal scrubbed out for offside, and they believe they would have gone on to win the match - which finished 2-0 in Caen's favour - had the France striker's second effort stood.

Auriac's admission comes 24 hours after another referee, Jean-Charles Cailleux, apologised for his error in awarding Lyon an injury-time penalty - converted by Karim Benzema - that earned the French champions a 3-2 victory over Nice.

Many commentators in the French media have been critical of the standard of officiating in Ligue 1 and these incidents will strengthen their arguments.

"We have looked again at the images from Sunday night at Caen and I am sorry to say there was a genuine error and we have taken into account that the second goal not awarded to Gomis should have been given," Auriac told L'Equipe.

Auriac, who also admitted there was a doubt about the first offside decision, added: "I have chosen to admit to this error and all the consequences it has, on the result but also on the assistant referee who judged it offside."

St Etienne president Roland Romeyer maintained the officials' mistakes on Sunday were hard to stomach, especially as his club were on the wrong end of a refereeing error on the opening day of the season.

On that occasion, Valenciennes were awarded a soft penalty that they scored to secure a 1-0 victory over ASSE.

"These goals should have been awarded if you look at the images," Romeyer said.

"I will not hide the fact that I received several text messages from friends watching the match on TV, confirming the fact that there had been a definite goal.

"That makes twice in five matches that the refereeing has not been favourable to us. That is enough. It is too much."

He added: "People say that refereeing decisions equal themselves out over a season; well for the moment, our tally is in debit and it is becoming unbearable.

"If we had at Caen the video referee that exists in rugby, we would have had two more goals and perhaps three points for the victory."