Top referee’s verdict on Harry Kewell red card

Damien, 4, gives his referee dad, Strebre Delovski of West Wollongong, a red card.Australia’s best whistleblower believes his Italian counterpart erred by sending off Harry Kewell against Ghana.Wollongong resident and Mercury columnist Strebre Delovski – the 2009-10 PFA and A-League referee of the year – disagreed with Roberto Rosetti’s decision to show the Socceroos star a red card for denying a goal-scoring opportunity.With Australia leading 1-0 on Sunday morning, Jonathan Mensah’s shot struck Kewell – who was standing at the goal line – on the arm.Rosetti awarded a penalty – converted by Asamoah Gyan – and Australia played for more than an hour with 10 men for a gallant 1-1 draw that left their hopes of advancing hanging by a thread.Delovski, who controlled last season’s A-League grand final, would have allowed play to continue as he didn’t believe Kewell was guilty of handling the ball.”He shouldn’t have been sent off because the handball rule states you have got to make a deliberate movement towards the ball,” Delovski said.”Handball is either deliberate or not, had there been movement towards the ball fine, but that didn’t happen. It wasn’t a penalty, I would have blown play on.”In my opinion it’s not a send-off offence.”Delovski – who watched the match with friends because he feared a controversial decision and an ensuing inquisition – cleared Kewell of two handball “red flags”.”Harry was in his natural body posture, he didn’t have his arm out and the ball hit him,” he said. “A giveaway with handball is when the player is watching the ball, but Harry had his eyes closed.”He didn’t have time to move because the shot was struck so hard.”Although he disagreed with the decision, Delovski said Rosetti had no choice but to become the second official to banish a Socceroo in as many World Cup finals matches.”The red card was for denying a goal-scoring opportunity because he was on the goal line,” Delovski said.”There’s no in between – it can’t be just a yellow (card) or just a penalty.”It comes down to the opinion of the referee, unfortunately that’s the way it goes.”However with Kewell automatically banned for the must-win Group D tie against Serbia on Thursday morning, Rosetti’s decision could have effectively ruined Australia’s hopes of progressing to the knockout phase.”I’d hate to be in his shoes, he had to make a decision in a millisecond and he’s gone for it,” Delovski said. “He is human, after all. He doesn’t have time to evaluate or review it from a million camera angles.”Delovski also disagreed with Rosetti not adding to the three minutes of time added on after Black Stars defender John Pantsil was injured.He estimated that error cost Australia a precious 90 seconds as they pushed for a winner.”If there is an injury during stoppage time, more time should have been added on,” Delovski said. “He should have played an extra minute or 90 seconds.”See Monday’s Mercury for Delovski’s take on Tim Cahill’s red card against Germany.

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