FIFA World Cup referee Chris Bambridge reveals his family received threats after his non-goal decision in the 1986 World Cup match between Brazil and Spain.

The Australian referee ruled out the attempt from Spanish midfielder Michel Gonzalez which bounced over the goal-line after coming off the crossbar.

Brazil won the match 1-0 and topped the group – but the decision had a greater impact on Mr Bambridge’s family in Australia.


“For the rest of the time I was away my wife had a police car parked in the drive way and was receiving abusive phone-calls,” Mr Bambridge said.

“My youngest one was being beaten up at school while this was all going on.

“I knew nothing of this, I only found out when I retired.

“When my wife told me she asked if it would have had an impact on my career if I found out sooner.

“The bottom line is – in a very selfish way – I said ‘maybe it wouldn’t’.”

“I know that’s a terrible thing to say but that’s how it is.”

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Now retired, the former NSL referee stands by his decision not to award the goal due to their being no way in knowing without technology.

“After the game four cameras said yes and four said no and two were unsure,” Mr Bambridge said.

“It is my responsibility the linesmen did exactly as he should have done – it was my decision to make.

“Without VAR I would make the same decision because I didn’t know.”

After the match Mr Bambridge was visited by Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst who officiated the 1966 FIFA World Cup final and is remembered for awarding Geoff Hurst’s controversial third goal.

“[Dienst] came and shook my hand and congratulated me,” Mr Bambridge said.

The decision did not impact the now 71-year-old’s career as he would go on to referee at the 1988 Seol Olympics before retiring in 1990.

Athos Sirianos