Friday 10 December 2010

More about Extra Assistant Referees or EARs

This is yet another follow up to UEFA’s experiment with additional assistant referees, which this blog prefers to call extra assistant referees … mostly because the acronym EAR can be used in the half-humorous semi-serious phrase:

“Are EARs the extra eyes needed in football?”

To illustrate the ineffectiveness of EARs, two controversial penalty incidents occurred during the Marseille and Chelsea Champions League final group match on Wednesday 8 December 2010. The match ended 1—0.

Both penalty incidents—in the 16th and 43rd minutes—occurred inside the penalty area and questions are asked of the Russian match officials. In particular the referee, Vladislav Bezborodov, was officiating his first Champions League match, so his courage, confidence and conviction come into focus, as well as the interaction with his team of match officials.

Note: Apologies for the long string of freeze frames in this post. Please skip to the end of this post for the summary.

Ultimately, the issue of whether EARs are effective comes to the fore … yet again. Here are the two penalty incidents that were not given to Chelsea.


In the 16th minute, Florent Malouda of Chelsea (green) heads towards the goal line and Souleymane Diawara of Marseille (black) trips him. The referee is right up with play and initially awards a penalty. [Note: this decision appears to be correct because the path of the ball does not change, suggesting that Diawara did not get the ball … and instead got the man]. However, the AR uses the intercom and indicates that Diawara did make contact with the ball and therefore says it is a corner kick. Questions to ask here are: Did the AR have the better angle of view than the R? Was the AR 100% sure that there was contact with the ball? What was the R's pre-match brief to his AR regarding fouls in the penalty area?

This turn of events gives a poor impression on the match officials, and in particular cuts down the credibility and authority of the match referee.

[Note: does the EAR have an optimum angle of view? Should the EAR assist?]

[Malouda (green) can not believe he is going to take a corner instead of a penalty kick!]

[This camera angle shows a good view of the incident]

[Referee Bezborodov instantly strikes a pose and confidently points to the penalty spot!]

[But wait ... the AR is saying that there was no foul and that it's a corner kick ...]

[As is expected, Chelsea captain John Terry (#26) questions the referee's judgement]


In the 43rd minute, Solomon Kalou of Chelsea (green) heads towards the goal line and Souleymane Diawara of Marseille (black) trips him. Both the EAR and R are close to play. But do they have the best angle of view? [Note: the path of the ball does not change, again suggesting that Diawara did not get the ball … and instead got the man]. So, was the presence of the EAR helpful? If the R did not think it was a penalty, then why not caution Kalou for simulation? In either scenario, the EAR did not (or perhaps could not) assist.

[Both the R and EAR are near to the incident. Between them, they should be able to decide whether it was a penalty or simulation. Or are they in the best positions to see clearly?]

[Kalou can not believe he did not get a penalty!]

[This camera view provides an optimum angle of view between the players. Clear foul.]


It would be interesting to know what the R’s pre-match instructions were to his ARs and EARs. However, in usual practice, any decision inside the penalty area should be the match referee’s priority or first call unless he absolutely has no angle and the AR has the better view. It would appear that the teamwork between the Russian match officials was not optimal.

For the first penalty, the AR undermined the R’s penalty decision. In fact the R, from about 12 yards behind play (see pic below), had a good view of the incident inside the penalty area, and subsequently made an immediate and decisive call. Unfortunately, the AR took matters into his own hands and subsequently eroded the R’s credibility and authority. Furthermore, the EAR most likely had the best view compared with the R and AR. So why didn't the EAR help out? From the relative positions of the R, AR & EAR, it certainly seems the EAR had a better view than the AR.

For the second penalty (see pic below), the EAR is close to the incident but perhaps does not have the correct angle to see contact between the players. This may be a reason why the EAR did not assist the R in making a penalty decision. The R, with his confidence unsettled by the first penalty call 27 minutes earlier, probably did not have the courage to make this penalty call.

These incidents add weight to the ineffectiveness of EARs. In particular, the wide camera angle (see pic below) for the second penalty gives the best angle of view. Neither the R or EAR had particularly great views. This also brings up the altered positioning and limited narrow runs of the R, when EARs are used in matches. Referees no longer feel the need to run wide, and hence can no longer obtain an optimal angle of view such as that seen by the camera angle (below).

[From this optimal angle, it is a definite penalty]

“Are EARs the extra eyes needed in football?”
No. It would appear not.

In UEFA’s publicity campaign, UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina, says: “Now we see more”

However so far, EARs do not appear to assist refereeing decisions or have a preventive effect on players’ conduct. EARs do not significantly enhance or help the game.

The question now is how long will UEFA stick with their calamitous experiment, and will UEFA release proper data and results of their experiment?

Related Posts

Now We See More. Yes, But Do Referees Perform Better?

Self-Censorship at UEFA

1 comment:

  1. Again a very thorough and accurate post where you highlight some of the problems with additional assistants and assistant referees.

    One of the major problems with AARs (or EARs as you call them) is that they are not refereeing at the same level as the center referee. I have no idea if this influences them, but from own experiences I know that I will be a bit more wary of making big calls when I am working with people who's got more experience on a higher level.

    In the first situation I think the player reactions were a part of changing the decision. There were no appeals from the Chelsea players and hardly anyone realised he pointed to the spot. Maybe a stronger whistle and a more clear signal would have helped? And I do believe Malouda exaggerated his fall. In the end I feel the wrong call were made, and as you pointed out the AR was not in a better position to make it.