7 Most Controversial Umpires across Different Sports ever


Even though every individual affiliated with any sport, Players, Commentators, Viewers, and Umpires, are of immense value, their roles and values are entirely different, and everyone’s success depends on how well they fit into their respective positions.

For athletes, it is good to remain in the spotlight because the more they stay in the headlines, the more chances they have to attract sponsors and build a portfolio. Meanwhile, the story of Match Referees and Umpires is slightly the opposite of this.

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Indeed, the success of an umpire is directly proportional to its media reflection, and they should stay away from headlines; otherwise, their progressive career could tint with allegations of biasedness and controversies.

In this Modern Sporting Era, though technology has minimized the role of Umpires, they are still of great significance, at least on the field, for Soft Decisions and Smooth Proceedings of the game. And they are an integral and respectable aspect of every popular sport globally.

You may find hundreds of deserving and decorated Umpires/Referees from various International Sports; however, not everyone has the best career, primarily due to their irrational and controversial on-field decisions that make them Evil in the eyes of opposite sides.

There have been several examples in the history of sports where one controversial decision or you may call it a prejudiced one, not just ended the career of the respective umpire but stained the spirit of the sport.

In this writing, we will expose the 7-Most Controversial Umpires/Referees in the history of international sports, including NFL, Cricket, and Football, who have stirred unsightly scandals for money, fame, or even biasedness.

 Sr.No Umpire/Referee Name Sports Field
1 Darrel Hair Cricket
2 Jeff Triplette NFL
3 Craig Joubert Rugby
4 Mark Clattenburg Football
5 Nigel Llong Cricket
6 Joey Crawford NBA
7                   Mark Benson Cricket

Darrel Hair – Australian Cricket Umpire

Australian Cricket Umpire Darrel Hair had a long-serving career that originated in 1992 in International Cricket, with most covered with diabolical and controversial decisions. According to stats, Hair umpired in 78 Test Matches and 139 ODIs, until 2008 before he resigned.

With several highlighted controversial decisions, Hair’s major scandal was against Pakistan Cricket Team and in a match between Sri Lanka and Australia. The first incident occurred in the summer of 2006 when Pakistan was touring England under the captaincy of Inzimam ul Haq for a 4 test series.

Although PCB privately disapproved of the nomination of Darrel Hair in the past due to his biased nature toward Asian teams, the ICC appointed him for the Test series. On the fourth day, Hair accused the Pakistani side of Ball Tempering and awarded the English side with five runs alongside the replacement of the ball.

After the team session, Inziman and his teammates protested against the decision and refused to continue the play. After a minute of a couple of minutes, Mr. Hair forfeited the match in England’s favor, registering a 1000-match history of cricket with no such incident.

Later, the ICC launched an injury on the matter, and after analyzing the case for all possible aspects, the Pakistani team was exempted from allegations of ball tempering, and Mr. Hair was banned for umpiring in ICC’s Interantional Cricket Events.

Before that incident, in 1995, Darrell Hair was umpiring in a match between Sri Lanka and Australia and no-balled Muttiah Muralitharan seven times in three overs, considering his bowling action illegal as a core reason. Arjuna Ranatunga, the Sri Lankan captain, marched off the field as he wasn’t happy with Hair’s decision but returned a while later. After a brief inquiry in 1999, ICC found Mr. Hair guilty and penalized him according to ICC’s rules.

Jeff Triplette – NFL Referee

Mr. Triplette is labeled as the Worst Referee in the NFL’s history, not for his dishonest decision but for the blunder that he is still unaware of the rules of the game he is in charge of. Even though Triplette has a long service career in NFL, most of his decisions are known as Disgraceful, as he left no stone unreturned in making every game being played under his supervision should be controversial.

From hitting a flag stick in players’ eyes to reviewing almost un-reviewable matters, Mr. Triplette is a genuine Offender for most NFL fans, but Jeff Triplette likely didn’t look much worried about what people think of him.

Craig Joubert – Rugby Referee

Craig Joubert came into the spotlight after making a controversial penalty decision during the Quarter-Final match between Australia and Scotland in last year’s Rugby World Cup. However, the Scottish people continue to view him as a Dream Stealer as his one unwanted on-field decision threw their team off the tournament.

It all began when Mr. Craig was the on-field official for a vital Men’s Rugby World Cup knockout match between Australia and Scotland. During the very last moments, Craig gave Australia an unwanted penalty, and they took full use of it, scoring a goal to win 35-34 and secure a spot in the semifinals.

The Scottish slammed Craig Joubert for not using the available TMO technology to verify the decision and relying on his instincts, which resulted in the elimination of their home side from the World Cup though they were too close to progressing to the Finals.

Mark Clattenburg – Football

Even though most UK Football Leagues are known for hiring the Best and most Unbiased Referees, a few incidents that occurred in recent years are too good to develop an unequal consensus on this particular matter.

Among other Premier League’s controversial referees, Mark Clattenburg ranks top but still officiating because fans have mixed opinions over his scandalous decisions. With many still believing that Clattenburg is the best of all time, a few views him as the most controversial umpire in the world.

Mr. Clattenburg found himself in hot waters after rejecting a crucial goal of Tottenham against Manchester United. It started after a firmly stoked ball almost crossed Manchester’s goal post line before their goalkeeper fumbled it around, but Clattenburg denied the goal.

In addition to the controversial decisions, Mark Clattenburg was also highlighted for his unethical and biased behavior against the Manchester City player. In that incident, Mr. Clattenburg went to the City’s bench and said, “How do you work with Craig Bellamy all week?” A few minutes later, he served Bellamy with two yellow cards.

Nigel Llong – Cricket Umpire

On-field Umpires often walk away without facing severe punishment for committing controversial decisions because they only rely on Naked-Eye to decide on close encounters, hence earning the benefit of the doubt in case of any blunder.

However, what happens when all technology is available to an Umpire to analyze the matter for all possible dimensions before making a final call, but he still defies it and announces the controversial decision? Of course, such referees must ban for a lifetime, the farthest opinion of most sports lovers.

A similar incident shocked the cricketing circles when Kiwi Umpire Mr. Llong made a wrong decision in a test match between Australia and New Zealand, despite the availability of technology and its outcome right opposition to Llong’s decision.

Surprisingly, Nigel Long was not an on-field umpire in that match. Instead, he was TV Umpire, and when Australian Spinner Nathon Lyon was declared Out on behind the stumps catch, the matter was sent to him for further analysis through technology. 

Upon reviewing the hot spot, technology captured a clear ball mark on the bat’s blade, and after watching the review on the big screen, Lyon started to walk towards the pavilion, but Mr. Llong stunned the entire stadium by calling it not out.

Joey Crawford – NBA Referee

Joey Crawford is one of few NBA Referees that have even digits of lovers and haters. With as many NBA fans’ views honoring Crawford as one of the best Umpires of all time, a few don’t hesitate to label him the worst in NBA History.

It is pertinent to mention that Mr. Crawford is the most experienced Referee in NBA and has umpired more playoffs and final games than any other active referee. However, his career never ended as one of the bests.

However, in 2007, Crawford picked a verbal fight against San Antonio Spurs player Tim Duncan during a clash against Dallas Maverick. After a detailed injury, NBA found Crawford guilty and suspended him for the 2006-07 playoffs and fined $25000.

Mark Benson – Cricket Umpire

Mark Benson is an English Umpire who came into the spotlight after making a few notorious decisions between India-Australia Test, and that disgrace tragically ended his international career.

Despite having a short cricketing career, Mark Benson earned the utmost popularity, irrespective of whether it was positive or negative. Benson made an international debut in 2004 and stood in 27 Tests and 72 ODIs before retiring.

Of course, Mr. Benson was nominated for the Best Umpire of the year award in 2010. However, his entire portfolio crashed during a test match against India and Australia, where he made several controversial calls, including a soft dismissal without using his discretion.

During an India and Australia test match, Benson made a controversial catch call after asking the Aussies skipper Ricky Pointing whether he took the catch neatly or not. When Pointing said he did, Beson declared the batter out without using his decretion or technology.

People also Ask

Q: Which Umpire has the Most Overturned Calls in Cricket?

A: Even though DRS has pretty much changed the significance of Onfield Umpires, a few experienced Cricket Umpires’ opinions are still considered better than technology. Among others, Rod Tucker, with 25.2 Overturned Calls, is a top performer in Test Format, followed by Steve Davis and Kumar Dharmasena, who had 25.5% and 25.8%, respectively.

Q: Who is the number 1 Referee in Football?

A: Pierluigi Collina, from Italy, is the most feared Referee in Football. It is pertinent to mention that Collina won the World’s Best Referee as he won the International Federation of Football History & Statistics six consecutive times.

Q: Who is the Richest Referee in the World?

A: According to the stats, NBA Referees are the richest in the world. An average NBA ref earns $5000 per playoff game they officiate. Surprisingly, James Capers took 12 during the 2021 season, the highest by any NBA Crew Chief. His overall salary is estimated at around $610,000 for one season.