Posted: 5/8/2009


       Well, Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo, a psychologist from Oslo is not very popular in West London and after ignoring 4 Chelsea penalty claims, and sending off Barca's Eric Abidal when Nicolas Anelka seemed to trip himself up, it was not a great performance.  Chelsea fans will soon discover his address and phone number and his life will be a nightmare from now on.  Actually he is not completely useless-because at least he can be used as a bad example!

       Guantanamo is closing soon, but maybe the NFF or UEFA will send the 42 year old to Kautokeino in Finnmark, way above the Artic Circle and live with the 2,000 Sami people in a traditional Lawu hut made of skins, in the land of the Midnight Sun. It can be taken down quickly,(faster than you can say Didier Drogba), put on a sleigh or snowmobile and moved quickly if Chelsea's owner sends his hit men up north. Tom can watch the Aurora Borealis, go ice fishing, reindeer herding, bird watching for the spotted redhawk, and has plenty of work analysing the hard drinking Laplanders. There is also an outdoor cinema made of ice.

         My friend Harald Solberg has flown up there to play as a guest player in the Sami Games soccer tournament where the players drank themselves silly with aquavit, the night before, prior to kick off and at half-time on the all dirt pitch, and of course after the match, win or lose. The nearest airport is in Alta 160km away, but he can also be parachuted in by the Norwegian Air Force. Lutefish(cod soaked in lye), sour-cream porridge, and berries are local delicacies. He has just missed the Sami Easter Festival in Mid April, but National Day is May 17th. He can dress in traditional Sami clothes, but must wear a wig and darken his face with reindeer droppings. In the very dark winter he needs to go to the sun bed studio.

        The U14 girls team of Kautokeino IF reached the semi-final of last year's Norway Cup, and there is even a Sami Football Association made up of Sami(Lappland) players from Finnmark including nearby Sweden and Russia. They are not recognized by UEFA or FIFA but have played against Estonia, Provence, Monaco, Aland islands, Northern Cyprus and Kosovo. Did you know that Morten Gamst Pedersen of Blackburn Rovers, born in Vadso, is eligible for the team, although he prefers the flesh pots of East Lancashire?

        What is it about referees who deem it necessary to shave their heads?, and referees from smaller soccer nations who get big match jobs because their nations are never at finals and semi-finals. AND why don't they smile and have fun, and relax the players. My all time favourite was Gordon Hill who was a character in England and then in NASL and who I last saw languishing in Tampa, Florida. Players and managers accepted his style, unlike the authorities who he often clashed with.  I know lots of Norwegian officials and I will be in Oslo again within the month. I remember the two 20-something Norwegian female referees that I recruited for a tournament, and the looks and smiles they got when they sun bathed by the pool at the hotel-topless.

         The second worst referee of the modern era was the unsmiling Dane, Kim Milton Nielson who fortunately reached the retirement age of 45 three years ago and who had no compassion for the beautiful game. Who was the worst? well, nobody was THAT bad. As for smaller nations not having decent candidates for big matches, Lubos Michel of Slovakia was the best on show until his recent retirement.

         Norwegian referee chief Rune Pederson has defended his countryman's performance. He had refereed 22 Champions League matches and also at the European Championships,although after making a pigs ear out of the first round match between Italy and Romania, he was sent home early to Olso, arriving before his postcards. He was, however, suspended for one match a few seasons ago when refereeing up in Molde, where a player had his leg broken. It is also ridiculous to mention a conspiracy. David Taylor, the Scottish Executive Secretary of UEFA in their Nyon, Switzerland headquarters quickly dismissed the idea. With 25 minutes left and Barca down to 10 men Chelsea should have added to their superb opening goal, only to see Andreas Iniesta find the net and the away goal two minutes into injury time.

        Any sympathy that Chelsea and their fans sought was outweighed by the attrocious behaviour of their players, when the F.A. is in the midst of a good behaviour campaign for parents, players and coaches at the youth and amateur level. Michael Ballack tried his best at a Maori Haka war dance in the Norwegian's face and Didier Drogba's foul mouth attack as he left the bench in his flip flops after the final whistle, played out on live T.V. was dreadful and will probably be dealt with soon.  John Terry, the obviuosly disappointed captain went into the Barca dressing room and personally shook hands with all the winning players to wish them good luck in the final.

       So, Roman(Abramovich) won't be in Roma, and the dream final will be between Manchester United and Barcelona in the Stadio Olimpico on May 27th,and of course both sets of fans will pay heavily for last minute flights and tickets from touts. AGAIN I PLUG MY IDEA of the Champions League Final to be held annually, or at least for say 5 years at Stade de France in Paris, with 6 trains stations, 3 airports and excellent roads and lots of accommodation. France won't have a finalised anytime soon and the major players from Spain, England, Italy and Germany will find it easier and less costly for fans. Since the idea is so simple of course, UEFA will ignore it.