According to French news outlet premiere.fr (my source is EPL Talk, since I don't speak French - one of my many redeeming qualities), Interpol is opening an investigation into the actions of referee Phil Dowd and Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky during Saturday's 4-4 draw. The investigation was apparently opened due to irregular betting patterns, the nature of which are not known at this time.
I've included some commentary after the jump.
UPDATE: The original report has been denied. Silly me.
Let me start by saying that while I strive for objectivity, it's just not possible in this case. That's not a purposeful move on my part; rather, it's a recognition of my own limitations as somebody who roots for and ultimately comments on Newcastle United. From my point of view, the result was a source of great joy.
I do want to communicate that I understand the anger that Gunners fans feel. I've done my fair share of complaining about officiating, and I would be extremely upset if that second penalty had gone the other direction. Joel Bick, who wrote the EPL Talk article referenced above, cleverly put it this way:
The alleged investigation includes Arsenal winger Tomas Rosicky, whose foul was allegedly the cause of the second Newcastle penalty.
Let's not get so focused on this development that we forget the storyline coming into the game. Newcastle, having sold their talented, homegrown striker earlier in the week, had also lost Andy Carroll's most viable replacement, Shola Ameobi, for the next several weeks, and by the way, they lost that game to Fulham in what was a very ugly effort. The team looked lost, coasting without a sense of identity, and headed toward the relegation zone (need I remind you, for the second time in three years). Going down 0-4 hurt, and not just because it was a large deficit. It hurt because two players that we have come to love for their fantastic play, Jose Enrique Sanchez and Fabricio Coloccini, were entirely culpable in allowing Arsenal to walk in and seemingly score goals at will. I'll admit that I was starting to buy into the idea that this nightmare could spiral out of control and the unspeakable could happen at the end of the season.
So when the lads made that glorious comeback - and even if you doubt the legitimacy of the result, there's no doubt that it was a glorious comeback - I was on Cloud 9. The draw had the taste of a win, just like the draw snatched from the jaws of defeat at home against Wigan earlier in the season also felt like a victory. I'm very well aware that in the hours following the game, there was a strong contingent of extremely vocal Arsenal fans protesting the result, but I'm not the kind of person that will let that bother me. No amount of (let's be honest) whining will change the result, and I certainly understand the need to vent, so vent away.
I am worried, though, that this investigation and any possible subsequent investigation will cast a permanent shadow of doubt over what is numerically the greatest comeback in Premier League history. Obviously, we don't know what's behind this, so to comment on whether or not there's merit in it would be irresponsible. I would also say that any fan who comes to the immediate conclusion that there was foul play is being unreasonable. This story is still in its infancy and is far from over. I'm sure we'll learn exactly how irregular the betting patterns were and get a full report on all of the controversial decisions Phil Dowd has made over the years. We'll definitely see that second non-penalty get played again and again. It will be a chaotic story that runs for weeks, or at least until the next controversy takes over. (Does anybody even remember who Sian Massey is anymore? And didn't we sell a player recently?)
What I'll never forget, and what I hope the Newcastle players never forget, is that when they were down, they found the drive within themselves to come back and make a game out of it. That certainly gives me hope for the rest of this campaign, a tall order indeed given the team's incredibly depressing striker corps. That's not going to change, and it's not something that Interpol or the FA or any upset Arsenal fan can take away from us as fans. I'll continue be happy with the result, even if it comes out that Rosicky and Dowd and the Italian Mafia conspired to give Cheik Tiote the power to make such an amazing strike, because you know what? He still hit that ball perfectly.