Refereeing chief Dermot Gallagher has categorically stated that Wilfried Zaha deliberately dived just against Newcastle on Saturday and was fully deserving of his yellow card.
You can see Gallagher’s full comments regarding Zaha’s “dive” here. Managing to be both authoratative and arrogant in the same breath is a real talent, luckily for Dermot, he appears to have fully mastered it.
Gallagher was speaking to Sky Sports News, who now have a weekly feature with him every Monday, going through the weekend’s most “controversial” moments and gaining what they generously package up to be his “expert” opinion. Unsurprisingly, given the reputation Wilf has now been unfairly labelled with, Dermot was unforgiving in his judgement over the incident.
Whilst the incident was not shown on Match Of The Day, you were able to see it on Sky Sports’ 50 minute highlight package on Friday night, with the footage appearing to show Zaha slipping over unintentionally and protesting to that end when being initially reprimanded by the referee. Clearly, both at the time and with the benefit of further reflection, officials aren’t of the opinion that Zaha was innocent in the matter, which probably has more to do with their preconceptions of him than the incident itself.
The elevation of referees from simple officiators of the game to minor footballing celebrities has been a slow yet steady transformation, with men like Gallagher, Poll and Webb revelling in the idea of having achieved a degree of higher status within their profession. Like a self-satisfied policeman or an unsympathetic traffic warden, the pleasure they take in slapping others down is mildly unnerving, as you can see for yourself on the link attached above.
You must be comfortable with the very notion of becoming universally hated to flourish as a professional referee; in Gallagher’s case, it appears to be an aspect of the job that he has fully embraced since he was first handed his whistle and cards.