Retired referee Graham Poll has revealed that Fifa told its referees to punish Peter Crouch for fouling at last summer’s World Cup finals.
Poll claimed that before the tournament began, Fifa refereeing chiefs singled out the England striker and told officials to pay special attention to the way he used his arms when jumping for headers.
Crouch will miss Saturday’s vital Euro 2008 qualifier against Israel through suspension after picking up two yellow cards in just five international matches this season.
In contrast, the forward received only two yellow cards in 29 appearances for Liverpool last season and Poll believes the player has been victimised.
“At the World Cup last year, we were shown videos of England games,” Poll told The Sun.
“The head of refereeing at Fifa said, ‘Look at this big fella Crouch. He’s a real pain and getting away with too much. We need to mark him as a player we need to look out for’.
“We watched England’s warm-up games and it was pointed out the way he used his arms. I tried to defend him, being English.”
Crouch was subsequently booked against Paraguay and was penalised by referees during the finals.
Poll also admitted that the guidelines influenced the decisions made by the officials.
“You have to ask yourself as a ref if you are looking out for him all the time or only when he has done something that draws your attention,” Poll told BBC Radio Five Live.
“To prepare is fine but to prejudge is not. And, lo and behold, Crouch did get booked in Germany.
“He has been picking up cautions since and is out of Saturday’s match.
“Players need to be aware that referees individually, or as a referee’s team, can be tactical as well.”