|Full name||Graham Poll|
29 July 1963|
Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England
|Other occupation||Television pundit, newspaper columnist|
|1986-1991||Football League||Asst. referee|
Graham Poll (born 29 July 1963) is an English former football referee in the Premier League and is considered the best English referee of the last 25 years in a list maintained by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). With 26 years of experience, he was regarded as one of the most prominent referees in the Premier League, often taking charge of the highest-profile games. His final domestic game in a career spanning 1,544 matches was the Championship play-off final on 28 May 2007 between Derby County and West Bromwich Albion.
At the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, he refereed two matches successfully. In his third game, Croatia vs Australia, he cautioned Croatian defender Josip ?imuni? three times before sending him off. Poll retired from refereeing international tournament finals matches shortly after, citing his error in the match. He continued to referee in the Premier League, Champions League and on international games, but said he would not allow himself to be nominated to represent the FA at any tournament finals as he felt he had his chance.
Poll took up the whistle in 1980, progressing from the Isthmian League to become a Football League assistant referee in 1986. Five years later he became a full Football League referee, before being selected for the list of Premier League referees in 1993.
Having held a FIFA badge since 1996, he took charge of quite a few European matches, of which possibly his most important was the UEFA Cup final between CSKA Moscow and Sporting Lisbon in 2005. Poll also took charge of many international matches, refereeing at top FIFA and UEFA tournaments such as Euro 2000, where Poll took charge of France versus Czech Republic, and Norway versus Slovenia in the group stages. He refereed his last ever Premier League match on 13 May 2007, between Portsmouth and Arsenal in which he controversially, but correctly, denied Portsmouth European qualification by ruling out a Niko Kranj?ar goal for offside.
His last ever match was to have been the Euro 2008 qualifying match on 6 June 2007. After it was discovered he took part in an interview which appeared critical of the support referees receive from the FA in the face of criticism by team managers and coaches the match was overseen by Mike Riley instead. In August 2007, Poll released his autobiography entitled "Seeing Red", and concentrated on being a pundit for BBC Sport's football coverage, and as a columnist with The Daily Mail, his feature entitled "The Official Line".
In the dying seconds of the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool on 21 April 2000 with the score at 0-0, the Liverpool goalkeeper kicked the ball into Don Hutchison's back while Hutchison was retreating towards his own half. The ball bounced into Liverpool's net, but Poll disallowed the goal, claiming that he had already blown the whistle to end the game. The television slow-motion pictures proved that this was incorrect, and after retiring in May 2007, Poll confessed that disallowing the goal had been a mistake that he regretted.
Poll refereed the Italy versus Croatia game at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, played on Saturday 8 June 2002. Poll had a busy game, as there were forty-two fouls, three goals scored, two goals disallowed, and two bookings. Poll was given one more appointment at that world cup: Fourth Official to Pierluigi Collina in the second round match which Turkey beat Japan 1-0.
Poll was the only English referee at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. His first game was South Korea vs Togo. Poll sent off Jean-Paul Abalo of Togo for a second bookable offence, and the match was eventually won by South Korea 2-1. His second game was Saudi Arabia vs Ukraine. The Ukrainians finished the match as the 4-0 winners, with Poll showed six yellows, three to each side. His last game was Croatia vs Australia. After already sending off two players, Poll failed to send off Josip ?imuni? for a second yellow card late in the match, eventually sending him off for a third yellow for dissent at the final whistle. Poll stated that he had erred in his second booking of ?imuni?, marking his card with the correct number (3) but in the wrong column due to ?imuni?'s Australian accent, meaning he booked Australia's Craig Moore instead of Simunic. The game ended 2-2, putting Australia through to the next round. On 28 June, Poll was named as one of 14 officials dismissed by FIFA from the remaining World Cup 2006 matches following his error in the Croatia v. Australia match. Maria Villar Llona, president of the FIFA referee's committee, said of Poll, "He is an exceptional referee and a great sportsman, who will be able to overcome the situation thanks to his strong personality and love of the game."
Poll retired from international tournament finals football on 29 June 2006, citing the error as the reason. He said in his retirement announcement,
What I did was an error in law. There can be no dispute. It was not caused by a FIFA directive, it was not caused by me being asked to referee differently to the way I referee in the Premier League. The laws of the game are very specific. The referee takes responsibility for his actions on the field of play. I was the referee that evening. It was my error and the buck stops with me.
In the press release, he also claimed that he had asked FIFA to be allowed to go home, to be with his family after the trauma of his mistake in the match.
He continued to referee in the Champions League and on international games, but said he would not allow himself to be nominated to represent The FA at any tournament finals. "It's time for somebody else in England to have a go and I will do everything I can to prepare them. But for me tournament football is over," Poll said.
|2002 World Cup||1||2||0||0|
|2006 World Cup||3||16||4||0|
|Season||Games||Total||per game||Total||per game|
Poll has made several appearances on popular football radio show World Soccer Daily, where he is typically asked to provide a view from the point of the referee whenever major controversial issues occur. He also features weekly on Chappers Premier League Podcast alongside Mark Chapman and Kevin Day. As well as this features in the Daily Mail where he speaks on officiating at the highest level, talking about decisions referees have to make. He also appears regularly as a pundit on Setanta Sports Football Matters show on Monday nights hosted by James Richardson and Rebecca Lowe. Since the end of 2009, Poll has also appeared as a regular news paper reviewer on Sky News Sunrise.
Born in Hitchin, Poll grew up in Bandley Hill and Shephall, and attended Ashtree Junior School and Alleyne's School. He is married to Julia. The couple have two daughters (Gemma and Josie), and one son (Harry). Poll continues with charity work, and ran in the London Marathon on 13 April 2008, finishing in a time of four hours and 20 minutes. The proceeds went to the Iain Rennie Hospice at Home.
Poll was born in Hitchin and went to Thomas Alleyne School in Stevenage, before taking up refereeing locally in both the Hitchin Sunday and the Stevenage Sunday League. He had moved to Tring, and then to Reading, so being born in the town 'didn't really come up; I wasn't seen as having any particular allegiance.'
| UEFA Cup Final referee
| FA Charity Shield referee
| FA Cup Final referee
| Football League Cup Final referee