Ever since the world cup, I have become quite the football/soccer fan. The only sport I enjoy equally as much or maybe a little bit more is basketball and that’s saying a lot because I love the game of basketball. At this point, I know that when North London’s Arsenal are facing FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou in Barcelona for a chance at a spot in the UEFA Champion’s League quarterfinals, it’s far beyond  a “big game”. Even bigger perhaps are the many stars that battle it out on the pitch for supremacy. One of these stars, Robin van Persie, was questionable for the match, but did end up starting. The start was huge news for the Gunners. van Persie not only scored the first goal in their eventual 2-1 defeat of Barcelona at the Emirates for the first leg of the round, but he arguably increases his team’s level of play greatly whenever he is on the pitch.

So, imagine the horror on Arsene Wenger’s face when van Persie gets a second yellow (first yellow was ticky-tack to begin with) and a sending off for a shot at goal, less than two seconds after the offside whistle was blown and the flag went up. The referee’s excuse? Time wasting. van Persie’s argument? 90,000 plus screaming fans. There is no way that the official is justified in that booking and sending off. van Persie was focused completely on the ball and framing his shot. As soon as he got control, he shot it. He didn’t even dribble the ball. In a battle between 90,00 screaming fans (This is European football. Truly exuberant, screaming fans.) versus a small whistle tens of yards away from a running, focused player, the 90,000 fans have the sonic upper hand. At the point of the sending off, Arsenal was obviously down to 10 men. Barca goes on to score two unanswered goals. there are calls that UEFA is corrupt from pitch to penthouse but I won’t call it that. This was just horrid officiating that caused Arsenal to end their UCL hopes with their heads hung low in Barcelona. Just embarrassing. What do you think? Justifiable red or down right mistake of a call? Feel free to air your opinion in the comments.