Tom Henning Ovrebo is a name that history will not remember kindly, especially where Chelsea's concerned. While Dani Alves rightly points to the lack of aggressiveness at Stamford Bridge three years ago as a factor in the Blues' Champions League semifinal loss that year, the fact remains that Chelsea were pretty royally screwed by the referee. Y'all already know that, of course - that match is a great, shared psychic wound common to Chelsea fans around the world. We're bonding over it right now. That really sucked, right?
Since the semifinal draw was announced, I assumed we'd see Ovrebo trotted out to say a few words about the outcome of the match, because everyone's still fascinated by him. And yep, here he is:
Everyone who knows the laws of the game knows I should have done things differently, but that's the life of a referee. In a strange way, I was actually satisfied with the way we all managed to keep calm in a tense situation. On the pitch I did my best. I shouldn't have to apologise as mistakes are part of the game.
It was a very challenging match and with the angry scenes after the final whistle it became less enjoyable. Some players got too emotional and behaved badly, but no one got killed. It's important to put it into perspective.
It helped me as a referee ... if I can cope with Drogba screaming at me, I can cope with anything - although he's a nice guy, really.
Good on Ovrebo for admitting that he messed up. Owning up to your mistakes is a positive thing. Refusing to apologise for them, however - that's something else entirely. His reticence appears to stem from the misguided idea that referees are part of the game itself, and that them having some sort of impact is not just inevitable but acceptable.
This is a worrying point of view, because it leads you to asinine conclusions - like the idea that diving is a skill because deception is 'part of the game'. This is only true if you consider referees to be active participants in football, and that turns the match into a three-party farce. Referees are supposed to be neutral arbiters, making sure the rules of the game as laid down by FIFA are enforced. The fact that they're human beings rather than abstract entities akin to the laws of physics is an unfortunate oversight.
Oh, and I'm sorry that Ovrebo had less fun after the final whistle. I didn't notice said whistle because I was too busy trying not to set the world on fire.
PS: I note with some amusement that Sylvain Distin, who is a football player, apologised to Everton and their fans for the mistake that led to their FA Cup semifinal loss to Liverpool on Saturday.