Ref apologises to Redknapp after goal-blunder at Wembley
Published 22:30 15/04/12 By Darren Lewis
Martin Atkinson made a grovelling apology to Spurs for Wembley’s greatest goalline controversy since the 1966 World Cup final.
With Chelsea leading through Didier Drogba’s first half goal, referee Atkinson ruled Juan Mata’s 49th-minute effort had crossed the line when TV replays showed it hadn’t.
And to make matters worse for Spurs, Atkinson was standing in a head-on position nine yards away, where he could not possibly have known for sure, prompting his apology to manager Harry Redknapp.
Redknapp said: “I spoke to him. He says he feels worse than I do. I said: ‘I don’t think so.’
“But he says he feels bad. He knows he’s made a mistake and he says he’ll have a bad week as well. Nothing we can do now.”
Incredibly, Atkinson will be at this summer’s European Championship as an ‘additional assistant referee’ with his role to stand by one goal to check whether the ball crosses the line.
Yet he blew for yesterday’s goal when even Chelsea captain John Terry admitted it should not have stood.
Terry said: “I thought it hit me to be honest and didn’t go over the line.
“We’ve been calling for goal-line technology for a very long time. Let’s hope that people make the right decisions.
“It was an important game today and fortunately it went our way. Throughout the season things go with you and go against you and today it’s gone with us and we’re delighted.”
Spurs captain Ledley King said: “I find it hard to believe that the referee could have seen it from where he was.
“Obviously there is nothing you can do. We were remonstrating with the referee, telling him it didn’t cross the line but he makes the decision and it’s a massive decision.”
Goals from Frank Lampard, Ramires and substitute Florent Malouda completed Tottenham’s humiliating defeat.
It also set up a potentially acrimonious final against Liverpool on May 5 after a section of Chelsea fans abused yesterday’s minute’s silence in memory of the Hillsborough disaster.
And it left the west Londoners rampant ahead of the first leg of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.
Interim boss Roberto di Matteo said: “The games were already piling up.
“It’s very demanding, no doubt about it. But we’re very pleased to be playing two games in the Champions League semi-final, and in an FA Cup final.”
“It’s good to keep this positive momentum going for us. We go into the game with confidence. It’ll be a different kind of game to tonight, over two legs, but it’s good.
“Winning brings that positivity within the team. It makes everybody feel better. It’s not always been like that, our finishing. We were ruthless tonight, and scored some cracking goals. We always create chances, and tonight we were very clinical in finishing.”