Sunday 10 June 2012

All EARs: Could Clattenburg's Cowboy Crouch Become A Classic?

For the first day at EURO 2012, I thought I would focus on the additional assistant referees or EARs because, well …
a) for one thing, there appears to be plenty of people discussing and focusing on the Referees and major match incidents; and
b) for another, there doesn't seem to be any well-defined guidelines for these extra match officials which means there will likely be plenty of strange impressions and/or odd-looking actions coming from the EARs.

For example, take a look at extra assistant referee (EAR2) Mark Clattenburg during the first goal of the group match between Russia and Czech Republic on Friday 8 June 2012. The match finished 4—1.
Clattenburg crouching, and looking as though he is straddling an imaginary saddle strapped right on top of the goal line

There are plenty more examples of Clattenburg's Cowboy Crouch during the match. Apparently, this is how England's EARs will be approaching their duties (... but it seems no one told EAR1 Martin Atkinson!).

The match officials are:
Referee: Howard Webb (ENG)
Assistant referees: Michael Mullarkey (ENG), Peter Kirkup (ENG)
Fourth official: Manuel De Sousa (POR)
Additional assistant referees: Martin Atkinson (ENG), Mark Clattenburg (ENG)

Now let's take a look at Spain's EARs during the tournament's opening match; a group match between Poland and Greece on Friday 8 June 2012. The match finished 1—1. There were 4 YCs and 2 RCs (one RC for 2nd caution).

In the 71', Greece have a penalty kick. Notice the position and stance of EAR2.
 EAR2 is crouching, legs wide apart, just behind the goal line

Notice that AR2 stands at the touch line in line with the 18-yard penalty area. The AR stands there, apparently, to watch for any encroachment. The AR does not appear to be particularly effective standing there during penalty kicks.

The reason why the EARs' "Crouching Cowboy" stance gives a strange impression (mainly, to other match officials and Referee observers) is because when compared with ARs who stand on (yes, "on") the goal line during penalty kicks they stand upright as though 'at attention'. Therefore, the contrast between an EAR's Cowboy's Crouch and an AR's Soldier's Stance is significant.

During penalty kicks, to observe whether the whole of the ball has crossed the goal line under the crossbar and between the posts, should match officials assisting the Referee adopt the:
a) Cowboy Crouch positioned behind the goal line; or
b) Cowboy Crouch positioned on the goal line; or the
c) Soldier's Stance positioned on the goal line?

At present, it seems EARs can do as they like since there are no established guidelines or interpretations.

In the 79', Poland attacker Ludovic Obraniak (white 10) charges into the Greece penalty area with the ball. Greece defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos (blue 5) also charges in and uses his arm unfairly to push his opponent off balance and off the ball. Here are the freeze frames:

Poland's Obraniak asks EAR1 why he did not give a foul and hence penalty?

Unfortunately, Obraniak does not know about the ineffectiveness of EARs.

Here's the view from another camera angle:




This is basic foul detection. Did Blue 5 make an unfair challenge? Did Blue 5 attempt to play the ball?

Remember, the stated original purpose of EARs was that they would:
1) promote better decision making on suspected fouls in the penalty area; and
2) have a deterrent effect, as players will be aware that they are being closely watched.

This incident in the 79' clearly shows that EARs:
1) do NOT promote better decision making on suspected fouls in the penalty area; and
2) do NOT have a deterrent effect.

What use EARs (even if they see more)?

The match officials are:
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP)
Assistant referees: Roberto Alonso Fernández (ESP), Juan Carlos Yuste Jiménez (ESP)
Fourth official: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)
Additional assistant referees: David Fernández Borbalán (ESP), Carlos Clos Gómez (ESP)

Not-So-Good Impressions

In the 69', Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain) sends off Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for DOGSO and Greece's Vassilis Torossidis (blue 15) approaches the Referee and pats and praises him.

Referee Carballo then shares a moment with Torossidis (blue 15), laughing, which doesn't come across well.

Especially since if we go back to first half, when in the 45'+2' Greece are claiming a handball in Poland's penalty area. The handball incident was clearly not deliberate but some Greece players harangue Referee Carballo.
The ball hits a Poland player (white) on the arm but it was not deliberate handball

Referee Carballo cautions José Holebas (blue 20)

Referee Carballo correctly cautions José Holebas (blue 20). But notice Torossidis (blue 15) is present and exerting prolonged pressure on the Referee too. We can see what kind of a person Torossidis is, in that Torossidis can only appreciate and accept decisions that are in favour of his own team.

Why an experienced Referee like Carballo would "share a moment" with a player like Torossidis is simply astonishing.


  1. the Polish goalkeeper who got sent off is Szczęsny or Szczesny, not Szezncy

  2. Thank you aigimig. Typo corrected.

  3. We don't know what Torossidis is saying to Carballo. Maybe the arms out is his way of saying to his players that they should not approach the referee?

    I also did react to the instant laughs and smiles just after the red card, it reminded me of Carlos Simon in 2006.

  4. Thank you Martin R. Do you mean Greece captain Karagounis (blue 10)? I assume he is holding out his arms in an attempt to separate his players from the Referee.