Poll's display 'was worst in history of the World Cup'
THE former World Cup referee Clive Thomas has labelled Graham Poll's performance in Australia's draw with Croatia as one of the worst in the history of the tournament.
Poll cautioned Josip Simunic three times but only issued the red card after the final booking, while the Premiership official was also criticised for a number of decisions.
In 1978, Thomas famously blew the final whistle of Brazil's clash with Sweden just after a corner was taken but before Zico had headed in from the set-piece, the match finishing 1-1.
However, he was hugely critical of Poll's display. "It was one of the worst performances of a referee I have ever seen in a World Cup," he said.
He added on BBC Radio: "It was pretty grim. I cannot understand for the life of me how his assistants - or fourth or fifth official - allowed it to happen. Let's be honest, we're talking about that incident but the performance of Graham was well below the standard, I marked him at 3.5 out of 10.
"He lost it in the first eight minutes of the game - there was a rugby tackle in the area. He lost complete control and there were two penalties he should have given."
Poll's World Cup appears to be over after his performance in the match on Thursday, which saw the Socceroos progress and Croatia knocked out.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said referees were human and would make mistakes, but that this one was inexcusable. Like Thomas, he could not understand why neither of Poll's assistants nor the fourth official picked up on the error either, especially when they are wired up to communicate via radio headsets.
Blatter said: "I place my trust in the referees' committee. I think they have the right amount of feeling to deal with this case.
"We should not forget that Graham Poll in his previous matches achieved fantastic things. Of course, we cannot excuse it but perhaps we should understand it. It simply should not have happened. We have had four officials and what is not understandable is that nobody intervened.
"I can't understand it. There are people there and one of them should have intervened and run on to the field and said, 'Stop, stop'."
As well as Poll, English assistant referees Philip Sharp and Glenn Turner, and the USA's fourth official Kevin Stott and fifth official Gregory Barkey can also expect to learn that for them the World Cup is over.
An Australian official said the Socceroos would have asked for a replay if they had missed out on a place in the second round because of the mistake.
John O'Neill, chief executive of Football Federation Australia, said they would have protested if the team had failed to reach the last 16.
"In light of what emerged over the three yellow cards I think there would have been grounds for a very strong appeal," O'Neill said. "The supposition is the match should have been replayed because they should have been down one player. There was an error of judgment and my understanding is it's the type of mistake that could have brought about a replay. I'm sure if the situation was reversed you would have heard a lot about it."
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