Friday, 17 May 2019

Was Leeds United's second goal offside against Derby County?

In the 62' a crucial goal was scored that took the Championship playoffs semifinal 2nd Leg between Leeds United and Derby County on 15 May 2019 to a 3–3 aggregate score. The playoffs do not have an "away goal" rule, which means the next team to score a winning goal within the normal duration of the match would triumph; otherwise the match would go into extra time and then, if the aggregate score is still tied, a penalty shootout would determine the winner.

Fortunately, it did not come to that since Derby County scored in the 85' minute and secured their place in the playoffs final against Aston Villa. The winners of that final will gain the 3rd promotion place to the English Premier League (following already-promoted Norwich City and Sheffield United).

However, imagine if Derby County had lost their match against Leeds United ... there would then probably have been a very public spat into Leeds' second goal.

Here is the incident in the 62' minute.

Leed's Stuart Dallas (white 15) scores to make the aggregate score 3–3

Here is the view directly opposite the AR:

This post is just to raise awareness of some difficult and/or tight decisions that ARs may experience. To emphasize again, as fellow match officials we must support others and also learn from these incidents.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

UEFA and VAR Must Also Take Responsiblity for Jan Vertonghen's Head Injury

The following incident occurred in the 31st minute of the UEFA Champions League semifinal first-leg match between Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax on Tuesday 30 April 2019.

From a direct free kick, two attacking players from Tottenham (white 4 and 5) both come together with Ajax goalkeeper (blue 24). Jan Vertonghen's face (white 5) smashes into the back of Toby Alderweireld's head (white 4), leaving Vertonghen lying on the ground in an awkward position. Blood pours from a cut on his nose.

Question 1: At the free kick restart, is Vertonghen in an offside position?
Question 2a: Who is challenging for the ball?
Question 2b: Who is interfering with play?

This is a difficult incident to assess, discuss and manage because first, some will claim Alderweireld was onside and had every right to challenge for the ball. Second, others will also add that in situations where there is a mix of onside and offside players, ARs must wait to see who touches the ball.

Third, UEFA, as the competition organizer, plus the Head of Referees have GUIDELINES instructing ARs to KEEP THEIR FLAGS DOWN in offside situations or tight offside situations until either a goal is scored, a penalty kick is awarded or the ball goes out of play. The reasoning for this guideline is simple: since there is now video technology, match officials can allow the game to flow until there is a convenient break in the game to allow a review.

However, it is this reasoning (to allow the game to flow and to be an entertaining spectacle) where it can be argued that UEFA and the Head of Referees must take responsibility for this collision and ALL OTHER collisions where their instructions have downgraded the safety of players.

The VAR guidelines ignore players safety because, as in Vertonghen's case, an offside player is allowed to challenge and potentially collide with opposition players (and even their own teammates). Essentially, ARs who keep their flags down on offside players are permitting a potential collision between charging attacking players and onrushing defending players or goalkeepers.

The question is, are the current VAR guidelines a good thing or not?

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Alireza Faghani DOGSO Discussion

In the 11' of the France versus Argentina World Cup Round of 16 match on 30 June 2018, AFC's Iranian referee Alireza Faghani whistles for a foul and points to the penalty spot.

France successfully dispatch the penalty kick and the score is 1 - 0.

In the 19' minute Faghani whistles for a foul and points to the penalty spot ...

And when the YC was shown, I thought the Referee's decision was a penalty kick for DOGSO.

However, it becomes apparent that Faghani has awarded a direct free kick outside the penalty area and not, as many people initially believed, a penalty. The Referee is pointing to a spot outside the penalty area. To avoid any misunderstanding he should perhaps not use this pointing signal (which is exactly the same as the signal for pointing to the penalty spot, which he used 8 minutes earlier) or otherwise use another signal to indicate the location.

Now, this leads on to the consideration whether this was a DOGSO incident ...

The France attacker Kylian Mbappé controls the ball and is then tripped by Nicolas Tagliafico, who is the second-last defender. This therefore meets the criteria for DOGSO. Faghani's AR did well to tell the Referee that the foul was outside the penalty area, however could the AR also have given his recommendation for DOGSO? If the unfair challenge by the second-last defender was outside the penalty area, then it should have been a RC to Tagliafico and a direct free kick to France.

Furthermore, with VAR used for "clear and obvious mistakes" (specifically with Red Card incidents being one of the four main uses) why did the Referee not use (or hear recommendations from) the VAR?

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Remember This About Shirt Swapping?

Back in June 2012, Pierluigi Collina promoted swapping shirts ... even between referees and players. It was a terrible idea then (as mentioned before) and remains a terrible idea to this day.

The upshot? USA World Cup referee Mark Geiger was accused by Morocco player Nordin Amrabat of "asking for Cristiano Ronaldo's shirt". Obviously there are "sour grapes" because Morocco lost to Portugal and subsequently after two matches Morocco are knocked out of the World Cup.

FIFA has released a strong statement that "unequivocally condemns the allegations [by Amrabat]" and that American referee Geiger "has acted in an exemplary and professional manner."

How ironic then that Collina, who is also chairman of the FIFA World Cup Referees, has previously promoted shirt swapping by referees. Collina himself was a collector of players' shirts during his time as a referee.

2 June 2012

Not Convinced About Collina in Respect Campaign

Here's the lead sentence from UEFA's social responsibility programme:
"Swapping shirts at the end of a match is a symbol of respect between opponents."

And here we see a famous Referee swapping shirts with a famous player:

Pierluigi Collina and Karem Benzema. Pic from UEFA.

Question 1: Does the Referee regard the player as an 'opponent'?

Question 2: Do Referees really exchange jerseys with players?

I am unconvinced about this latest respect campaign from UEFA.* UEFA claim that "Pierluigi Collina and Karem Bezema exchange jerseys as a mark of Respect". This is an incorrect and illogical claim. Also, Collina has previously admitted to not being able to give away his Referee shirts in exchange for players' shirts because he said Referees are never given enough shirts in the first place.

Instead, UEFA Referees' Chief Pierluigi Collina has a reputation for collecting famous football players' shirts without exchanging his own and even got Graham Poll hooked on this habit. Poll famously wrote in his autobiography about his unabashed attempt at making sure he was standing next to Zinedine Zidane when he blew up for full time, just so that he could be the first to 'claim' the great Zizou's jersey. How pathetic. This makes a mockery of the integrity, credibility and neutrality of Referees. Referees should not be seen to swap shirts with players with whom they are officiating matches with.

This blog admires Collina for his performance and dedication to Refereeing. However, this blog does not agree with some of Collina's practices such as the habit of encouraging Referees to swap shirts with famous players that they have officiated. It is hypocritical of Collina to promote this campaign. Also, it is by definition unethical.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Football Dark Arts

What are the Dark Arts in soccer? This interesting book is the first-ever collection of 80 negative football tricks, traps and tips that are used by mischievous players, coaches and managers.

Here is the book description, which is found on Amazon websites:

How winners in football really win at football.

Football Dark Arts provides detailed knowledge about crafty, deceitful and outrageous gamesmanship that will help you and your team win matches.

For the first time anywhere, 80 tricks, traps and tips in soccer are collected together and presented in this book. These dark arts help give ultra-competitive managers and street-smart players a competitive edge that prevent their opponents from performing at their optimal level.

Masters of the dark arts know how to bend the rules, to deceive, to con, and ultimately to negatively affect their opponents. This book highlights the ugly, unpleasant and unsporting aspects of “The Beautiful Game”.

Whether you are a player, coach, match official, fan, commentator, journalist, medical doctor or club director, your best option is to read this book and understand the dark arts!

Proceeds from this book will go to the Common Goal fund to support football charities around the world.

If players, coaches and managers are using the Dark Arts to help them beat their opponents, then match officials should also be smart enough to be able to recognise and understand these negative actions. This book is an "eyeopener" into the real world of competitive football. Highly recommended.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Risk of Sports Injury?

At first take, who looks more likely to have a significant injury, or three, during their football career?

Jack Wilshere (right) of Arsenal and Fernandinho of Manchester City battle for the ball

Jack Wilshere is a talented professional player but his record of injuries do not bode well for this future, especially if one looks at his body mechanics (kinesthetics). Wilshere looks awkward, unbalanced and ungainly.

Aesthetics plays a huge part in a professional athlete's long-term performance, sustainability and longevity. Just look at tennis legend Roger Federer, a wonderfully graceful athlete who has avoided major injuries throughout his long career while performing consistently at the highest level.

Let's not forget how Alex Ferguson regards athletes too (plus he is known to have a good eye for choosing winning racehorses).

Writing in his autobiography in 2013, Ferguson painted the scene in the Manchester United boardroom, prior to Jordan Henderson’s £16 million move from Sunderland to Liverpool (reference):
“We looked at Jordan Henderson a lot and Steve Bruce was unfailingly enthusiastic about him. Against that we noticed that Henderson runs from his knees, with a straight back, while the modern footballer runs from his hips. We thought his gait might cause him problems later in his career.”
Jordan Henderson, running style

So, from a refereeing perspective, match officials should also pay attention to their body mechanics, running style and movement. Referees are athletes and can also benefit from understanding and improving themselves aesthetically. 


Arsenal star Jack Wilshere complains about three refereeing decisions from Carabao Cup final loss to Manchester City in a statement: 'These are facts'  (Daily Mail)

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Can a Referee's Name Influence His Appointment?

Ben Toner. Say the name again. Ben Toner.

Some people may hear the term "bent owner". In English slang the meaning of "bent" is to be dishonest. A dishonest owner.

This is not a reflection on the referee himself. Mr Toner merely has an unfortunate name that can be used to imply that a club owner is dishonest or corrupt. Recently, the owners of Blackpool were found guilty in the high court of "illegally stripping" the club of assets, and people have noticed this funny association.

Interestingly, the PGMOL decided to remove Ben Toner from the Blackpool vs Portmouth League One match and replace him with EPL referee Jon Moss. They cited that the reason for this was NOT because of the referee's name at the match, but because the match itself had become higher profile due to the high court's verdict. In the end, the third-tier match had an attendance of 5,032 and very little media coverage.

Perhaps Ben Toner should amend his name to Benjamin Toner or Benny Toner? Would that help?

Take home message: If you are a referee and you also have a funny name, you may need to think about changing your name. Does anyone know any funny referee names?

There is a player in Hong Kong who is called "Linesman". Imagine the reaction of the match officials, when Lineman's teammates call his name!!


Referee Ben Toner loses Blackpool game after Oystons court verdict

Jon Moss takes over at Bloomfield Road due to ‘increased attention’
Ben Toner’s name caused amusement following ruling against Oystons

The referee Ben Toner has been taken off Blackpool’s League One match against Portsmouth, days after the majority owner, the Oystons, were found by a high court judge to have operated an “illegitimate stripping” of the Lancashire club.

Given the findings against the Oystons, Toner’s name had caused some amusement on social media. However the EFL said he had been replaced by a more senior official only because of the “increased scrutiny” on the match at Blackpool.
On Monday Owen Oyston and his son Karl were ordered by Justice Marcus Smith to pay £31m to buy out the minority shareholder Valeri Belokon because of “fundamental breaches” of their duties as directors. Yesterday they put the club up for sale.

After discussions between the EFL and PGMOL, the referees’ association, it was decided Toner should be replaced by Jon Moss, one of the elite Premier League officials. As the body that appoints all match officials it was the PGMOL rather than the EFL which made the choice.

An EFL spokesman said: “As a result of the increased attention surrounding this weekend’s League One fixture between Blackpool and Portsmouth, PGMOL [Professional Game Match Officials Limited] has determined it would be appropriate for a select group 1 referee to take charge of proceedings at Bloomfield Road.