Ref rubbishes bias claims over Liverpool's Kuyt

Vink denied the Gunners a clear penalty after Holland striker Dirk Kuyt felled Alex Hleb.

But Vink insisted: "It's ridiculous to say I made the decision because I'm Dutch.

"There are many nationalities playing in every team nowadays - Spanish, French, Italians, Brazilians - and it's not an issue. It's a completely ludicrous suggestion."

Arsenal were even more suspicious when it emerged that Vink and Kuyt come from the same neighbourhood and have known each other for years.

Yet Kuyt said: "I know the ref. When I played for Feyenoord, he was ref for a lot of our games.

"But you could say the same thing about Robin van Persie.

"He also used to play for Feyenoord before joining Arsenal and he'll know Pieter Vink just as well.

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"So it is wrong to say the ref did me a favour on Wednesday night just because he knows me.

"I think the penalty decision was right.

"It was a close call because I did touch Hleb. But I never pulled his shirt and I don't think he deserved a penalty."

Vink, 41, is regarded as Holland's top official and will represent his country at Euro 2008.

Under UEFA rules he is not allowed to comment on the penalty incident but he did admit to The Sun: "I haven't seen it again but I will look at it on DVD.

"If it was a game in Holland then I would admit it if I made a mistake.

"All I will say is that it was a great atmosphere with two good teams and I didn't have any problem handling this match."

FIFA refereeing advisor Mario van der Ende reckons Vink got it badly wrong.

He said: "When you are an official at this level you know you have to get it right - and he didn't.

"My colleagues, journalists and Guus Hiddink, who saw it numerous times, all said that it was a 100 per cent penalty.

"Being a referee is the same as someone walking the high wire without a safety net - and in that environment only the best will survive."

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