Football history was made at the weekend when a referee used a new card never before seen in the beautiful game.
Portuguese referee Antonio D’Sousa, brandished the new card in a league match between Benfica & Sporting Lisbon which ended with a 4-2 victory for the hosts.
Fans, players, and coaching staff alike, were all taken aback when, just before half time, ref, D’Sousa removed his wallet from his shorts pocket and took out what appeared to be a Barclaycard debit card.
No-one seemed quite sure why the experienced referee had done this, and some took it to be an accident. Through an interpreter, this reporter spoke to a fan who witnessed the incident “Ready? Okayyyy. I was watcheeeeing thee game on my phone, eeeven though aye wass there.
All off ay sudden, the referee blew heees wheeestle and efferybody stopped what they wass doo-ink. We all loooked at the referee to seee hwhy heee hasss blown heees wheeeestle, butta nobady knowssss. Then, he takes heees wa-let – how you say? Whallet? Yes, heees whallet out off heees pocket anda he waves heees Barclaycard at the crowd. ‘Whatta-de-fuck is heee doink?’ we wass all askink? Budda nobaddy knew! Per’aps he put the hwrong card in heees pocket this-a-morning, eh? Ha ha!”
Explanation sought code
After returning the plastic card to his pocket, D’Sousa signalled for play to continue. Shortly afterwards, half time arrived and, at the whistle, players from both teams surrounded D’Sousa and his officials, clearly seeking an explanation as to what the earlier card incident was all about.
D’Soussa however, shrugged-off the players’ increasingly agitated inquiries. As the throng of players, officials, and staff reached the tunnel, things began to boil over and it is reported that D’Sousa this time produced a Costa Coffee loyalty card and brandished it at several players from both sides.
The second-half of the hard-fought match passed without further controversy but, at the final whistle, the captain of Benfica, and the coach of Sporting Lisbon, both remonstrated again with the ref about the first-half debit card incident, with their appeals again waved away.
He wassa seeemply gesturing
Finally, at the post-match press conference, a statement was provided by the fourth official, Alfonso Cardoza. Speaking to an expectant press pack, the red-faced official explained “So, fursst off all, Antonio wanteed to thank all the playerss and the coaching stafff for playink the game eeen such a good spirit.
It wasss a very good-a-match. I know you haff some questions abowt the first haffa incident witha the card. I haff, of course, spoken to Antonio, and he explained to me thatta he wassa seeemply gesturing to awla the fans that thee dreeenks anda the food in the stadium are very, VERY expensive and thatta they will probablia need to breaka into their overdrafts to buy sometheenk, anda thatta issa probably cheaper to-a go to Costa Coffee. That is all.”