Tuesday, 12 June 2012

EAR Denies Penalty To Italy

The following incident occurred during the Euro 2012 group match between Spain and Italy on Sunday 10 June 2012. The match finished 1—1. There were 7 YCs.

In the 34', Italy forward Mario Balotelli (blue 9) is tripped in the penalty area by Spain defender Gerald Pique (red 3). It is an obvious penalty because Pique never touched the ball as he tried to connect with it 'through Balotelli's leg'. Here are the freeze frames:

Look at Referee Viktor Kassai; he is stooping

Does Kassai have a good clear view?

The following camera angle clearly shows that Balotelli is fouled by Pique … and not the other way round. Here are the freeze frames:

Referee Viktor Kassai decided that Balotelli had fouled Pique and therefore awarded a DFK to Spain.

Kassai is strict and stern with Balotelli. Kassai wags his finger, as if he were a teacher or parent telling off a naughty child.

The media usually give Balotelli a 'bad rap' for being boisterous, spoilt and immature. However, in this incident, Balotelli should be praised for his restraint in the face of being denied a penalty and incorrectly accused for being 'unsporting'.

Here is EAR2's view:

Q1: Should EAR2 have assisted the Referee?
Q2: Should Referee Kassai have asked or communicated with his EAR2 and AR2?

Once again, this scenario proves the ineffectiveness of EARs. If the EAR identifies a foul in the penalty area, and the Referee's view of the incident is compromised, what is the optimal solution? What is the use of the saying "Now we see more" if the match officials ultimately decide that "they didn't see anything"? This is just another form of soft-option officiating.

The match officials were:
Referee: Viktor Kassai (HUN)
Assistant referees: Gabor Erös (HUN), György Ring (HUN)
Fourth official: William Collum (SCO)
Additional assistant referees: István Vad (HUN), Tamás Bognar (HUN)

Note: What Some ARs Think and Laugh About

Italians are meant to be great defenders (for example, they won the World Cup in 2006 on the basis of a strong defence, and Serie A teams are well known for their defensive tactics). But take a look at this Spain free kick into the penalty area during the 76' and you will see some unintelligent defending. Here are the freeze frames:

Italy defenders (blue) rush toward their own goal just before the DFK is taken and therefore keep Spain's attackers onside

AR2 (György Ring) should be laughing to himself or at least thinking how silly the Italy defence is.

I am certain this thought has crossed many ARs' minds when faced with similar scenarios as they look across the pitch at defenders. The unintelligent actions of defenders (not just Italians, but most teams) makes one wonder what kind of defensive tactics coaches teach players these days!!?


  1. There was another in which Balotelli had DOGSO-F perpetrated upon him in the box, yet no call was made. I wish I knew how to get you the video.

    Those refs really stunk up the field.

  2. The performance Kassai showed was the best so far, by far the best. Balotelli was fairly stopped in the situation Shotgunner meant. Ball was played, everything ok, Balotelli did not complain. The situation you described via the freeze frames is at the borderline of being ridiculous. Freeze frames are here not enough, if you have the full pace, you will recognize that Balotelli merged and that it was sooner a dive than a foul.

  3. Mr. Kassai has been praised very much by many many people (IFFHS) of his great performance in the Italy Spain match. This match has by far been the best match of the tournament so far with the best game flow, in part thanks to Mr. Kassai's smart officiating. Your claim on the Balotelli incident is quite ridiculous especially if you watch the clip in motion. Freeze frames do offer valuable information, but they cannot be used as the sole tool of judgement. Kassai and his crew undoubtedly had a great performance in this match and this continues to show how UEFA and FIFA have chosen right, giving him World cup semi final and the Champions league final at Wembly.
    Oops, i think you missed this one!

  4. Thank you Niclas E (and cal b). Are you claiming that Balotelli dived? However, from the actions of Stark, it appears Balotelli was not cautioned and the decision was a DFK to Spain. Therefore, simulation does not appear to be Stark's view of the incident. The actions of Stark in the 34' do not match your claim that Balotelli dived. Stark believed, from his view 'through one or two Spain players', that Balotelli had fouled Pique. Could EAR2 have assisted the Referee?

    A bit later, in the 37', Balotelli was cautioned.

    Thank you also Shotgunner for your comment.

    Just to clarify, the posts on this blog are observations. They are not meant to assess the match officials' performances. Rather, the emphasis is to raise awareness of certain incidents so that hopefully we can all learn from other Referees' mistakes {or successes}. For reviews and ratings of Referees' match performances, there are other sites that do this. This blog is not one of those sites.

  5. You meant Kassai ;)
    I think the situation was one of those which are not enough for a dive, because a contact existed, but which are not enough for a penalty either. Balotelli had many moments in the match when he acted in a theatrical way and looked for the opponent's leg to merge.
    And of course, we have also to keep in mind that Kassai had and always has got a certain approach concentrating on leniency at all costs.

  6. Yes, thank you Niclas E. I meant Kassai. Too many late nights watching Euro 2012!! :)

    It is interesting how you describe players, like Balotelli, who intentionally "look for the opponent's leg to merge". Perhaps you can give a more concrete example or examples (either in this or in other matches) of this type of player tactic (if it really is a type of player tactic)? At the moment, I remain unconvinced.

  7. I do only know the German expression that fits superbly for the thing I meant.
    Merging, I am not sure whether it is correct. I mean e.g. a situation at u20 WC 2011 when Geiger awarded a PK to Brazil against Austria. E.g. a goalkeeper is already on the ground, because he had to try to get the ball legally and cannot avoid a touch of the approaching striker who immediately looks for the contact which the opponent provoked unvoluntarily and without any intention. Or in Milan-Barca, Alexis Sanchez looked for the contact with goalie Abbiati already lying on the ground, Eriksson correctly let the play go on, I mean this with "merging". In German it is "einfädeln" :D

  8. Thank you Niclas. From your description, the English term might be "trawling", as in 'trawling for a foul'. This is where players knowingly leave their leg 'low' where it has more chance for some contact with an opponent (such as a diving goalkeeper or a slow lumbering defender), when in fact they could easily lift their leg to skip past the opponent and carry on with play. I mentioned this in an early post here.

    1. Thanks, that is the term which I missed!