FIFA World Cup 2010: Serbia Robbed of Qualification

Eric BradleyCorrespondent IJune 23, 2010

NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 23:  Jason Culina of Australia and Milan Jovanovic of Serbia jump for the ball during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group D match between Australia and Serbia at Mbombela Stadium on June 23, 2010 in Nelspruit, South Africa.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Serbia has been dismissed from the 2010 FIFA World Cup due to yet another scandalous mistake from the match referees.

In the closing stages of the final Group D game, Australian midfielder Tim Cahill clearly allowed his hand to come in contact with the ball inside the Serbian penalty area.  This should have resulted in a penalty kick being awarded to Serbia, which would almost certainly have guaranteed Serbia the second place in the Group.

If the penalty had been awarded and the goal scored, then Serbia would have achieved a total of four points in the Group stage, enough to draw level with Ghana and would then have moved ahead of Ghana on goal difference.

Nearly every match has been spoiled by controversial decisions, and this one has been the decision with the most fateful consequences so far.

At the end of the match, the Australian team won by one goal.  This was not enough to be of any use to them, but made all the difference in the world to the fates of Serbia and Ghana.

Ghana will now play against the United States in the Round of 16, while Serbia will no doubt have a joyless flight home.