Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A Slovenly AR

The performance of one AR from Slovenia in UEFA matches continues to be 'slovenly', if you excuse the word play. This post is Part 2 of the previous post UCL: Strange Impressions of FIFA ARs and UEFA EARs, which elicited some interesting comments from readers. Thank you everyone for your comments.

Since this blog first commented on the slovenly AR1 from Slovenia (who looks slightly similar to ex-Arsenal and ex-England defender Tony Adams), UEFA has appointed this team of match officials to officiate in at least two relatively-important European matches such as the:

AR1 from Slovenia using a basic AR Flag with a wooden handle (Note: the flag is not the problem)

1) Champions League quarterfinal second-leg match between Chelsea and Benfica on 4 April 2012. The match finished 2—1, with Chelsea winning 3—1 on aggregate.

and the:

 AR1 from Slovenia and his 'slovenly' way in holding the flag with his right hand as he runs along the touch line towards the goal line

2) Europa League semifinal second-leg match between Valencia and Atletico Madrid on 26 April 2012. The match finished 0—1, with Atletico winning 2—5 on aggregate and progressing to the Europa League final.

One would think that the relevant UEFA Referee Assessors would have politely advised these match officials from Slovenia, on more than one occasion, to follow UEFA and FIFA guidelines. Who is at fault here?

Impressions count and professional impressions count professionally. Upcoming Referee Damir Skomina (who still needs to improve to fully convince as a top international Referee) would be better served by team members who take their duties seriously and professionally. In the seasons ahead, will the Tony Adams AR1 look-alike improve his slovenly image or will his attitude continue to mark him out as a stubborn non-team player?

On a related issue, the informative and extensive World of Football Refereeing blog has a post about the U17 EURO Referees in Slovenia. It highlights UEFA Referees Committee members Vlado Sajn and Kyros Vassaras who have a Q&A session with the media. What they say, although predictable, is important because the objective of the UEFA Referees Committee is to teach well so that these upcoming Referees from all over Europe will "achieve as much consistency and uniformity in these [UEFA] tournaments as possible".  In particular, I hope the young Referees from Slovenia will not copy the slovenly attitude of some of their senior colleagues.


  1. The slovenian assistant referees take their duties very seriously and professionally. If they did not, you would not see them at the professional level today. Simply holding the flag in the right hand does not imply that these assistants don't take their duties seriously and professionally. There is nothing in the FIFA LOTG or interpretations of the laws that state assistants must hold their flag in the hand facing the field. It simply states that the flag must be visible to the referee and this does not necessarily mean you must hold it in the hand toward the field. It is the professional and serious standard of many other countries to hold the flag in the right hand, and it is very unfair of you to harshly criticize these officials.

  2. "AR1 from Slovenia and his 'slovenly' way in holding the flag with his right hand as he runs along the touch line towards the goal line"

    Former Canadian FIFA Referee Hector Vergara wrote an article about the instructions they were given during the FIFA World Cup 2010. One of them was an emphasis on switching the flag to the right hand when play got into the penalty area or close the the end line. Because if you're going to make a decision, you're doing it with your right hand more than likely and they wanted it to be done quickly without a lot of jostling.

  3. Personally, I think the assistant referees at this level should follow the guidelines the Laws of the Game are clearly setting. However, this technical aspect should not be the key to determine an assistant referee's class. Arhar made a big mistake there, right, but he showed very good performances in CL as well.

    1. Regardless of which is the correct technique, fact remains that 1) one of the ARs is using the incorrect technique, and 2) the team is therefore not using consistent signals. Both are problems.

  4. With regard to holding the flag in the right hand from penalty area in, we had a clinic with Hector Vergara last weekend and it is important to understand this is only when side-stepping. When sprinting or running to the goal line the flag, as always, should be closest to the field and in the left hand. This is what is instructed to all ARs from FIFa level down and although mechanics are perhaps secondary to correct decision making it is very surprising seeing ARs at this level not having sound basic flag mechanics

  5. Impressions count and professional impressions count professionally. This post (and related posts) is not intended to assess the performance of the match officials … only to raise awareness of some 'strange impressions' seen at the highest levels.

    Again, thank you everyone for reading and commenting.

    The impression I get from the comments of many readers in this and other posts is that Referees are opinionated individuals (which is a somewhat necessary characteristic for Referees) but unfortunately there is a diversity of opinions (with little consistency). I am intrigued by the diversity of opinions … and if we as Referees find it difficult to be consistent with our opinions and interpretations amongst ourselves (be it in this forum, our local Referees group, national league, or at international level) then perhaps it may not be all that surprising to discover that match officials from different countries are inconsistent in their opinions, interpretations and actions too.

    Referees Committees from FIFA, UEFA, AFC and other federations (and instruction groups down to grassroots level) are always emphasizing the importance for Referees to "achieve as much consistency and uniformity as possible". Although this alludes mostly to correct decision making, it follows that match officials should aim to be be consistent and uniform in performing their other duties too.

    The key question, which has been posed above, is this: Who is at fault here?

    1. consistency is very important you are right about that, and FIFA and UEFA have all emphasized how consistency is important, but FIFA and UEFA are speaking of consistencies in the Laws of the Games. Both Busacca, from FIFA, and Collina, from uefa have publicly expressed how it is also important to maintain diversity among referees and it is OK for referees to have different styles and opinions. This is demonstrated by all of the uefa appointments; referees with very different styles all have the ability to achieve the same level of relative success. The important thing is that the Laws of the Game are enforced correctly and consistently. While it may be YOUR opinion that a little thing like which hand the flag is held in gives off a certain negative impression, the fact is that this variable does not have any effect on enforcing the laws of the game correctly and consistently.

      I am glad that we all share the same great passion for the game that we are here discussing things like this here. Good work with the blog

  6. Apples and oranges. I am not sure whether we are discussing the same thing.

    Context is important (Note: I am grateful to the comment above by "The Livermans of St John's" in clarifying the context of Hector Vergara's advice about holding the flag in the right hand whilst side-stepping or 'crabbing'. Thank you.).

    Therefore, in what context did Busacca and Collina state that it is important to (quote from Anon) "maintain diversity among referees and it is OK for referees to have different styles and opinions? Were they talking specifically about Referees? Or does this include ARs and other match officials in general? It appears Anon may be confusing the issue here.