Cardiff City are to seek an explanation from the Professional Game Match Officials Limited general manager, Mike Riley, as to why the referee, Anthony Taylor, allowed Chelsea's equaliser to stand on Saturday.
The home side were trailing to an early goal when Cardiff's goalkeeper, David Marshall, claimed the ball, glanced around and then bounced it on the turf as he surveyed his options upfield. Samuel Eto'o stole in and nicked the ball away as it rebounded from the ground and, with the goalkeeper initially claiming a foul before scrambling to try to regain possession, Eden Hazard eventually scored in the confusion.
Fifa's rulebook clearly states that a goalkeeper is "considered to be in control of the ball while the ball is between his hands and any surface and while in the act of bouncing it on the ground", meaning he could not be challenged. Yet Taylor, who appeared to take his eyes off Marshall as he retreated upfield anticipating a clearance, consulted his linesman and allowed the goal to stand in the belief that Marshall had lost control of the ball rather than deliberately bouncing it.
The official's interpretation will come under scrutiny from referees' assessors and he could yet be demoted from elite duty next weekend as a result of his error. "I did go and see the referee just purely to seek clarification as to what they thought they saw," said the Cardiff manager, Malky Mackay. "They were quite calm and clear. The linesman spoke to the referee and the referee spoke to the linesman and they felt that 'Marsh' dropped the ball. That's why I asked for the clarification on if he bounced it. And they immediately went: 'No, no, no, if he bounced it, it's a foul.'
"My goalkeeper had seen Eto'o standing there. He didn't come from behind him. He was standing there watching the striker. I think everybody was just waiting on him kicking it up the park and a lot of people had their back turned to it, walking up the park. Look, we know it's not going to make any difference to us, but we'll ask for clarification on it. Referees and linesmen are human. They're not making these [mistakes] on purpose. I'll ask Mike Riley and his team to look at it, and then I'll accept what it is that comes back from them. We just ask for clarification on it now that I've seen the issue. That's all."
Neither Marshall nor Petr Cech appeared to be familiar with the rules of the game on such incidents, with the Chelsea keeper initially suggesting Eto'o's action was "very clever and unusual". "I could let it bounce in front of me and it might be three metres away but you can say it is still in my control," he said. "It is a very difficult call to make. But I would say the referee had a perfect view. He was very close. He could see exactly what happened and took his decision to allow the game to go on."
Marshall went as far as to accept culpability for the concession. "The goal was probably down to me," he said. "It's a habit of mine to bounce the ball as I prepare to kick. The Chelsea player nipped in and knocked it away from me. I'm not sure of the rules, but it's probably my fault. The ball wasn't in my hands at the time. It's a habit I will have to get out of. I saw him [Eto'o], I knew he was there. But force of habit made me do what I did. I apologised to the boys at half-time."