‘Absolute Joke’: Morelli Sounds Off On CPL Refereeing
Last night saw Pacific FC net a late winner through a spot kick seven minutes from full time, and it’s a moment that would cause sidelined midfielder Joao Morelli to unleash a scathing commentary on the league’s officiating.
Referee Juan Marquez awarded the penalty after Marco Bustos completed a blistering run into the box, with a trailing Obeng Tabi managing to get a foot in from behind to clear the ball out of play. Tabi’s foot then made contact with Bustos after swiping away the ball, with the midfielder tripping forward and getting the call.
Halifax Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart pitched a diplomatic stance after the game, simply stating that the referee had a difficult job and that from the bench, it looked like Tabi had played the ball first.
Canadian Premier League MVP Joao Morelli had a much less reserved response:
“When are we going to fix the refereeing in this league,” he implored, “absolute joke! Every single game they make a game-changing wrong call.”
The tweet has been liked by a number of CPL athletes, and that’s not limited to Morelli’s teammates out east: Eriks Santos, Mamadi Camara, Jose Escalante, and Azriel Gonzalez all liked the tweet directly, with a number of additional athletes engaging with some of the discourse that came in response to Morelli’s open criticism.
Cleary frustrated, the sidelined midfielder replied in his native tongue to another comment that roughly translates to “These guys are so dirty / joking, for the love of God.”
Morelli is a top talent in the Canadian Premier League, though he’s set to miss the remainder of the season after suffering an ACL injury last week. When a now-deleted tweet asked him to worry about his injury instead of the officiating, Morelli wasn’t afraid to clap back there either: “This is the worst time of my life man, if you don’t have any constructive argument, think twice before mentioning someone’s injury,” he said.
Last week saw Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. ask for more consistency with referee decisions in the league, though he refrained from making any further comment to avoid a fine – though he’s certainly sounded off on referees before. Cavalry would then go through a rowdy visit to York Lions Stadium that resulted in eight yellow cards.
The opening three rounds of Canadian Premier League action have resulted in weekly team-wide altercations and referee crowding, which might be indicative that referees aren’t always in full control of the matches – something we expect to see match officials crack down on. There’ve been penalty decisions in all three of the matchweeks thus far, though none have proven as controversial as last night’s.
For what it’s worth, the laws of the game don’t stipulate much on if the player actually touches the ball first – rather, it focuses on whether anyone was fouled on the play. With the virtue of replay, Tabi looks to have done quite well to tap the ball from from behind Bustos, though a tackle from that angle is always going against the odds.
Whatever your stance on the penalty is, one thing is clear: Joao wasn’t afraid to clap out at the league’s officiating, though he’s likely en route to a fine for doing so.