Sunday 27 December 2009

Video Highlights from East Asian Games 2009 Football Final

The following are some video highlights from the East Asian Games 2009 Football Final between Japan and Hong Kong (EAG Match 10 Final).

East Asian Games 2009 Football Final Japan v HK 2nd Half 2 Cautions Increased Tension

HKRef advocates Optimum Officiating. Unfortunately, these two incidents demonstrate that the Referee's officiating did not help in managing the players during the tense gold-medal match.

In the first incident, Japan player #16 survives a fair charge by HK player #16. However, the Referee does not allow play to continue. This causes Japan player #10 to react with anger, be abusive and raise his finger at the Referee. The Referee correctly cautions Japan #10 for dissent.

In the second incident, HK player #16 fouls Japan player #20 and the Referee correctly cautions #16 for a reckless challenge. However, the Referee fails to identify signs of trouble that occur right in front of him, and therefore does not take any preventive measures. First, Japan #20 is angry at HK #16 and stands over him. HK #8 then comes and pushes Japan #20 away. Japan #16 is also angry at HK#16 (for his earlier charge, in the first incident) and also stands over him. But HK #7 comes and pushes Japan #16, and then intimidates him continuously (perhaps because HK #7 knows he is bigger than the smaller Japan #16). Mass confrontation ensues. Eventually, the AR does a good job by coming to help manage the situation. The Referee did not see these actions by the players (that occurred right in front of him) and therefore did not caution any other players. Also, the Referee did not ask the AR for what he may have observed.

East Asian Games 2009 Football Final Japan v HK Penalty Shootout Best View

HK soccer 'needs to strengthen grass roots' (South China Morning Post, )

In the East Asian Games, Japan and North Korea sent their under-20 and under-23 squads, while South Korea comprised mostly second-division players.

"In the final, Au Yeung [Yiu-chung], the under-23 Hong Kong captain, missed the first penalty kick, followed by the four seniors who scored. It was the same story in the semi-final against North Korea," said Kitchee boss Ken Ng Kin who is also a senior official with the Hong Kong Football Association.

The grass roots of the game still doesn't have a firm foundation, and this is what worries Ng.

Saturday 26 December 2009

EAG 2009 Semi-Final Goals

The following are some video highlights from a semi-final match between Hong Kong and DPR Korea at the East Asian Games 2009 (EAG Match 8 Semi-Final).

Hong Kong v DPR Korea EAG 2009 1st Half HK goal

Hong Kong v DPR Korea EAG 2009 2nd Half Equalizing Goal

Hong Kong 1:1 DPR Korea
Hong Kong win 4-2 on penalties (AET)

Referees Must Be Consistent

The following are some video highlights from a semi-final match between Japan and Korea Republic at the East Asian Games 2009 (EAG Match 7 Semi-Final):

Referees must strive for consistency in the application of the Laws of the Game.

Japan v South Korea East Asian Games 2009 Throw 1 of 2

Japan v South Korea East Asian Games 2009 Throw 2 of 2

Japan South Korea East Asian Games 2009 ExtraTime Winning Goal

Monday 21 December 2009

Carlo Ancelotti on Referees

"I don't like to judge the work of the referee because I am not a referee."

Very well said sir! HKref hopes that you say what you mean, and mean what you say!

West Ham 1 - 1 Chelsea (BBC Sport)

Saturday 12 December 2009

EAG Match 10 Final

2009 East Asian Games Football (Final)
Kick-off: 2009-12-12 (SAT) 17:00

Japan 1:1 Hong Kong
Hong Kong win 4-2 on penalties (AET) and take Gold Medal. Japan take Silver Medal.

Yellow Cards
NAGAI, KENSUKE 33' (Japan)
OSAKO, YUYA 44' (Japan)
KAMATA, SHOMA 100' (Japan)
KWOK, KIN PONG 67' (Hong Kong)
LEUNG, CHUN PONG 90' (Hong Kong)
CHAN, SIU KI 97' (Hong Kong)
YAPP, HUNG FAI 107' (Hong Kong)

Total Cards in Match: RC 0; YC 8

2009 East Asian Games Football Champions

EAG Match 9 Play-off

2009 East Asian Games Football (3rd/4th Place)
Kick-off: 2009-12-12 (SAT) 14:00

Korea Republic 1:1 DPR Korea
Korea Republic win 4-2 on penalties (AET) and take Bronze Medal.

Yellow Cards
KIM, MINKYU 90' (Korea Republic)

Total Cards in Match: RC 0; YC 1

Friday 11 December 2009

EAG Match 8 Semi-Final

2009 East Asian Games Football (Semi-Final)
Kick-off: 2009-12-10 (THU) 20:00

Hong Kong 1:1 DPR Korea
Hong Kong win 4-2 on penalties (AET)

Yellow Cards
CHAO, PENGFEI 50' (Hong Kong)
KIM, KUK JIN 49' (DPR Korea)
SIN, YONG NAM 67' (DPR Korea)

Total Cards in Match: RC 0; YC 3

EAG Match 7 Semi-Final

2009 East Asian Games Football (Semi-Final)
Kick-off: 2009-12-10 (THU) 17:00

Japan 2:1 Korea Republic

Yellow Cards
TOMA, TAKEFUMI 76' (Japan)
CHOI, MYOUNGSUNG 26' (Korea Republic)
PARK, HYUKSOON 93' (Korea Republic)

Total Cards in Match: RC 0; YC 4

Wednesday 9 December 2009

EAG Match 6

2009 East Asian Games Football (Group B)
Kick-off: 2009-12-08 (TUE) 19:00

China 1:0 Hong Kong

Yellow Cards
GAO, DI 30' (China)
ZHOU, LIAO 40' (China)
PIAO, CHENG 42' (China)
LU, PENG 88' (China)
Kwok, Kin Pong 31' (Hong Kong)
Yuen, Kin Man 73' (Hong Kong)
Lau, Nim Yat 84' (Hong Kong)

Total Cards in Match: RC 0; YC 7

Note: In Group B, Hong Kong and Korea Republic advance to the semi-finals at the expense of China.

EAG Match 5

2009 East Asian Games Football (Group A)
Kick-off: 2009-12-07(MON) 19:00

Macau 0:5 Japan

Yellow Cards
MOK, TSZ YEUNG 29' (Macau)
CHE, CHI MAN 51' (Macau)
AOKI, TAKUYA 42' (Japan)

Total Cards in Match: RC 0; YC 4

Note: In Group A, Japan and DPR Korea advance to the semi-finals at the expense of Macau.

Monday 7 December 2009

EAG Match 4

2009 East Asian Games Football (Group B)
Kick-off: 2009-12-06 (SUN) 19:00

Korea Republic 3:0 China

Yellow Cards
GO, MIN GI 24' (Korea Republic)
LEE, JEAYOUNG 86' (Korea Republic)
PIAO, CHENG 13' (China)
WU, XI 33' (China)
WU, YAN 78' (China)

Total Cards in Match: RC 0; YC 5

Saturday 5 December 2009

EAG Match 3

2009 East Asian Games Football (Group A)
Kick-off: 2009-12-04 (FRI) 19:00

DPR Korea 8:0 Macau

Yellow Cards
PAK, NAM CHOL 65' (DPR Korea)
UN, TAK WAI 33' (Macau)

Total Cards in Match: RC 0; YC 2

Friday 4 December 2009

EAG Match 2

2009 East Asian Games Football (Group B)
Kick-off: 2009-12-03 (THU) 19:00

Hong Kong 4:1 Korea Republic

Yellow Cards
AU YEUNG, YIU CHUNG 47' (Hong Kong)
KIM, HOYOU 75' (Korea Republic)

Total Cards in Match: RC 0; YC 2

Thursday 3 December 2009

EAG Match 1

2009 East Asian Games Football (Group A)
Kick-off: 2009-12-02 (WED) 19:00

Japan 2:1 DPR Korea

Yellow Cards
SIN, YONG NAM 47' (DPR Korea)
PAK, YONG JIN 58' (DPR Korea)

Red Cards

Total Cards in Match: RC 1; YC 3

Friday 20 November 2009

Sometimes, Referees Have To Rely On Intuition Alone

For the penalty decision in the Asian Cup Qualifier between Hong Kong and Japan on 18 November 2009, we are reflecting on a matter of centimetres. The decision is very tight either way (for a penalty or a free kick).

2009/11/18 Asian Cup Qualifiers [4] Hong Kong vs Japan

At 9:00, the foul occurs.
Here are 6 screenshots of the foul taken from an angled view from behind.

We still do not have the optimum camera angle (i.e. a view directly along the 18-yard line). HKRef can only find a front view and an angled view from behind. These views are not 100% conclusive, but we can take in to account some strong facts that may help indicate where contact occurred.

What the front view shows at the moment of contact:
1) Position of Hong Kong captain (red 15) is outside the penalty area (look at his left foot).
2) Position of ball is probably on the 18-yard line (difficult to determine because the ball is not in contact along the ground; it has bounced up slightly)

3) Position of Japan player (blue 33) must be behind the ball and therefore probably outside the penalty area.

What the angled view from behind shows:
1) Position of Hong Kong captain (red 15) is outside the penalty area (without any reasonable doubt).
2) Position of ball when Japan player (blue 33) plays it with his left foot is behind the 18-yard line (this also means blue 33’s left foot is definitely behind the 18-yard line).

3) Position of Japan player when contact is made is inconclusive (there appears to be simultaneous contact by red 15’s right leg on the
left knee and right foot of blue 33).

Common Facts:
Position of Hong Kong captain (red 15) is outside the penalty area (look at his left foot). Also, his body indicates he is in line with (i.e. parallel to) the 18-yard line. His right foot makes almost simultaneous contact with both legs (i.e. the left knee and right foot) of Japan player (blue 33). After the foul, red 15’s right foot is planted right on the 18-yard line.
The laws of physics can explain that blue 33’s forward momentum would have pushed red 15's right foot forward and rotated his body counterclockwise and as a result his right foot lands squarely on the 18-yard line. Therefore at the moment of impact, if these common facts regarding red 15 are valid, the foul was “technically” outside the penalty area.

Note: This incident happened at full-speed, and is impossible for the human eye to capture decisively. HKRef does not consider any referee in that exact moment to be 100% certain in calling the foul inside or outside the penalty area. A referee would have to be superhuman! Or to have the benefit of video technology and from multiple angles. In that moment, all a referee can do is to summon up all his composure, experience, training and intuition and then make a decision that, in his opinion, is correct.

The usefulness of this “exercise” is not to apportion any error or blame, but to consider whether the match officials could have optimized their officiating when this incident occurred. We do not know if the AR was in line with the 18-yard line (which is where the last defender was), in which case his view may have been obscured. We do not know that had the R been closer, he would have been able to decide either. Prior to the foul, the ball had ricocheted off a Japan player and it would have been difficult for the R to anticipate where play was moving.

HKRef hopes this “reflective exercise” is useful for all referees. HKRef also hopes that this is useful to help players and managers understand how difficult it can be for referees who have to make a decision based on “one look” and sometimes only with intuition. It’s not easy, but it’s what referees have to do.

Related: To see Nakamura’s fantastic free kick (despite the fact that the referee should have awarded an indirect free kick), jump to 8:10 of the videoclip.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Referees Must Remain Alert During the Whole Match

This incident occurred in the final minutes of an Asian Cup Qualifier match between Hong Kong and Japan on 18 November 2009 at Hong Kong Stadium (attendance 13,254). Japan was already leading 3-0 but this is no reason for match officials to relax or lose focus. The referee and assistant referees must always remain alert, both physically and mentally, until the final whistle is blown. What occurred towards the end of this match demonstrates why all match officials must be alert until the final whistle is blown.

2009 11 18 Hong Kong v Japan: Asian Cup 2011 Qualifier 4th Goal

At 1:40, Hong Kong captain (red 15) fouls a Japan player (blue 33). There is reason to believe that the foul occurred outside the penalty area.

These following 7 screenshots show the likelihood that contact by Hong Kong captain (red 15) on the trailing left leg of the Japan player (blue 33) was made outside the penalty area. The position of Hong Kong captain (red 15) appears to be outside the box. Obviously, pictures from a camera looking along the 18-yard penalty line would confirm whether the foul occurred inside or outside the penalty area.

Interestingly, Hong Kong player (red 31) probably had a better view of the foul than the referee. Red player 31 (at the top right of the screenshots) was close enough to see exactly where contact was made during the tackle. After the whistle was blown, Red player 31 tried (calmly, it must be noted) to tell the referee that it was outside the box, but the referee unsurprisingly did not listen to him … despite the fact that very occasionally (!) players are correct and referees are wrong.

Match Details: Hong Kong 0 – 4 Japan

Also see: What Should Be Awarded For Impeding a Player?

What Should Be Awarded For Impeding a Player?

This incident occurred in the 85th minute of an Asian Cup Qualifier match between Hong Kong and Japan on 18 November 2009 at Hong Kong Stadium (attendance 13,254). Referees must be careful not to lose focus, particularly towards the end of a match or when a distraction occurs (in this case, a substitution arises before the restart of play).

2009 11 18 Hong Kong v Japan: Asian Cup 2011 Qualifier 3rd Goal

At 4:27, Japan player (blue 20) is impeded by Hong Kong player (red 4). The result of this should be an indirect free kick. However, the referee does not signal or indicate an indirect free kick. Then a substitution arises. When the substitution is completed, the referee whistles for restart of play and Shunsuke Nakamura (blue 10) scores directly from the free kick. HKRef considers this to be “embarrassing” for a referee, and suspects the referee was distracted by the substitution procedure.

An Indirect Free Kick should be awarded for Impeding a Player

Match Details: Hong Kong 0 – 4 Japan

Also see: Referees Must Remain Alert During the Whole Match

Friday 13 November 2009

FA Concludes Ferguson’s Referee Remarks “Grossly Improper”

The Football Association fined Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson £20,000 and gave him a four match touchline ban of which two are suspended until the end of the 2010-11 season.

Ferguson reluctantly admitted a charge of improper conduct made about referee Alan Wiley following United's match against Sunderland at Old Trafford on 3 October.

The FA Regulatory Commission stated that Ferguson’s remarks were: “… in the context in which they were made, were not just improper but were grossly improper and wholly inappropriate. He should never have said what he did say.”

Ferguson has a history of improper conduct charges for incidents involving referees:

In the 2007-08 season, the FA gave Ferguson a two-match touchline ban and fined him £5,000 for a rant at referee Mark Clattenburg during a match at Bolton; and

In the 2008-09 season, the FA gave Ferguson a two-match touchline ban and fined him £10,000 after remonstrating with referee Mike Dean after a match against Hull.

HKRef would like to see the FA give Ferguson a significant penalty when (not if) he abuses referees again.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Pohang Steelers AFC Champions League 2009 Winners

On Saturday 7 November 2009, Pohang Steelers of South Korea beat Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia to win the 2009 AFC Champions League. The score was 2-1.

The match officials for the AFC Champions League 2009 Final were from Australia.
Match Commissioner: Mazen Ramadan (Lebanon)
Referee Assessor: Maniam Murugiah (Singapore)

Referee: Matthew Breeze (Australia)

Assistant Referee 1: Matthew Cream (Australia)

Assistant Referee 2: Benjamin Wilson (Australia)

Fourth Official: Peter Green (Australia)

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Kuwait SC AFC Cup 2009 Champions

On Tuesday 3 November 2009, Kuwait Sports Club beat Al Karamah of Syria to win the AFC Cup 2009.

The match officials for the AFC Cup 2009 Final were from Iran.
Match Commissioner: Muzammil Mohammad (Singapore)
Referee Assessor: Salem Saeed Rashed (UAE)

Referee: Masoud Moradi Hasanli (Iran)

Assistant Referee 1: Hassan Kamranifar (Iran)

Assistant Referee 2: Reza Sokhandan (Iran)

Fourth Official: Akbar Bakshi Zadeh (Iran)

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's South China are still getting over their disappointment in losing to Kuwait SC and over the weekend suffered a 2-1 league defeat to local rivals Kitchee.

Kuwait SC Are AFC Cup Champions
AFC Cup final match officials
Classy Kitchee capitalise on Caroliners' AFC Cup hangover

Classy Kitchee capitalise on Caroliners' AFC Cup hangover
Chan Kin-wa
Nov 01, 2009

South China proved they have still not recovered from their AFC Cup heartache after losing 2-1 to Kitchee in the BMA First Division at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday.

The Caroliners' impressive form left them on the verge of reaching the AFC Cup final two weeks ago in front of a patriotic 38,000 home crowd, only to lose 3-1 on aggregate to Kuwait champions, Kuwait Sports Club, in their semi-final clash.

And their misery continued when they lost for the first time in four domestic games as arch-rivals Kitchee, who also beat them in the pre-season Community Shield, outclassed them.

Chan Man-fai opened the scoring for Kitchee in the eighth minute, tapping home Lo Kwan-yi's cross from close range before, 14 minutes into the second half, Chan Wai-ho's own-goal from a scuffed clearance made it 2-0.

Leandro Silva converted a penalty for South China to close the gap in the 73rd minute, but then - when it would have been easier to score - missed a simple, close-range chance with only Sergio Aure, Kitchee's Spanish goalkeeper, to beat.

Kitchee's win took them back to the top of the league on 11 points from six matches - two ahead of South China, who have two games in hand.

Steven Lo Kit-sing, South China's team convenor, was unhappy with the performance of his players.

As was Kim Pan-gon, the team's coach, who admitted the team were mentally tired after the AFC Cup tournament.

"It is very disappointing. We were hoping that they could have recovered quickly after the disappointment of losing in the AFC Cup, but they simply failed to do so," the South Korean said.

"They lacked the motivation to attack and failed to live up to the standards they set in the fine run they had reaching the AFC Cup semi-final."

Kim said the team's attack needed to improve if they were to challenge for a fourth successive league title.

Ken Ng Kin, Kitchee's president, added: "We played some good football with some excellent movement by the players.

"Our passing game is a style of play not seen in domestic football for a long time.

"Before kick-off I said we were not too concerned with the result, as long as we played the game the way we know we can; we certainly did that."

He was disappointed that only 5,442 people watched the game. "We were expecting more for such a big game. Hopefully, we'll attract more against South China next time."

Sunday 1 November 2009

South China AA v Kuwait SC: AFC Cup 2009 SF 2nd Leg

Was it a Penalty Kick?

[Kuwait SC defender (white) slides in to South China attacker (red) and does not get the ball]

At 2:10, Kuwait SC defender (white #38) makes a slide tackle but is nowhere near the ball. He makes contact with the South China attacker (red #26) and red #26 falls to the ground. Look at the reaction of white #38.
(Note: even if white #38 had got the ball, he would have had to first go through his opponent.)

HKRef will leave it up to the viewers to decide whether a penalty kick should have been awarded. Please click your answer on the POLL. Should a penalty kick have been awarded to South China?

Related Posts
Kuwait Deny South China Berth in AFC Cup Final
South China on Verge of History

Saturday 24 October 2009

Kuwait Deny South China Berth in AFC Cup Final

In front of a 37,000-strong Hong Kong crowd on Wednesday 21 October, Kuwait managed to hold off pressure from South China and their fans, winning 1-0 in the semi-final second leg, and overall winning 3-1 on aggregate after last week's 2-1 win in Kuwait.

Compared with their quarter-final second leg, South China's semi-final second leg match was a complete contrast with the huge home fan support, match development and tactics, and of course the refereeing.

In HKRef’s view, there was little Optimum Officiating displayed by the match officials (further details to follow).

Kuwait break hearts of Hong Kong supporters
Caroliners' goal ruled offside as they miss place in final

Chan Kin-wa
Oct 22, 2009

South China may have lost the match last night - and the chance to reach the final of the Asian Football Confederation Cup - but Hong Kong soccer ended the night as the winner.

In front of a packed crowd of 37,400 passionate supporters at Hong Kong Stadium, the Caroliners were beaten 1-0 by visiting Kuwait Sports Club in the semi-final second leg - losing 3-1 on aggregate after last week's 2-1 defeat in the away leg.

Ismail al-Ajmi scored the goal that broke the hearts of the South China fans when he beat three Caroliners players on the left and fired a low drive that gave goalkeeper Zhang Chunhui little chance.

The match was marred earlier by some ugly scenes when the linesman ruled that Li Haiqiang's goal in the 64th minute was offside.

South China fans began throwing bottles onto the field and the reserve stand of Kuwait Sports Club, forcing the visitors' officials and players to run onto the pitch.

"One of our officials was hit by a soft drink bottle, but we won't lodge any complaint to the AFC as we understand the feeling of the home fans," said Mohamad Ali, coach of Kuwait Sports Club.

"We have watched many South China match videos and they played their best match so far in the tournament."

The domestic champions had failed at the last hurdle in their dream of becoming the first team from Hong Kong to reach the Asian Champions League; a place in the league will be awarded to the two finalists of the tournament.

However, despite the defeat, Brian Leung Hung-tak, chairman of Hong Kong Football Association, said he was confident that Hong Kong could build on the momentum brought by the zealous fans.

"The atmosphere was just wonderful when you saw thousands of fans cheer for the home side; it hasn't happened for a long time in domestic football.," he said.

"Yes, South China lost the match and the result was disappointing, but we have gained a lot. As you can see, the fans still support Hong Kong football very much. They are willing to spend their time and money as long as our teams can achieve good results."

At least 26,500 tickets were sold the night before the match, and another 4,000 tickets were sold yesterday morning. By 6.45pm, a red flag showing a full house was on display at the ground; not all 40,000 tickets were sold for security reasons.

The attendance was the biggest for a competitive match in Hong Kong - not including exhibition games with overseas teams. The previous record had been for a First Division title play-off between South China and Instant Dict, watched by some 31,100 fans in 1996.

Leung said he personally sold the last two tickets to a fan at the box office and it was at this time that he felt Hong Kong football still had a future. "I was really moved," he said. "We have to work hard from here and I call on the clubs, government and the community to join us for the betterment of Hong Kong football."

Kwok Ka-ming, a former Hong Kong soccer star who is now the international director of the Football Association, said many fans still supported Hong Kong soccer.

"Any domestic team who can reach the final stages of a regional tournament can bring the crowds in," Kwok said. "Many fans here may not be supporters of South China, but still came hoping to watch a Hong Kong side beat an overseas team."

South China coach Kim Pan-gon admitted his charges would need to improve their skills if they wanted to play at the highest level in the region.

"Physically we are almost there, but we must improve on our skills," the South Korean coach said. "This cannot be done only at club level, but by starting at junior levels, too."

Tuesday 20 October 2009

South China on Verge of History

On 21 October Wednesday evening at 8pm at Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong’s oldest football club South China will attempt to become the first Hong Kong side to reach the final of the AFC Cup tournament.

To do so, South China will have to beat Kuwait SC 1-0, or if they concede goals a winning margin of at least two goals will be required. The first leg of the AFC Cup 2009 semi-final saw Kuwait SC win 2-1 against South China.

If South China are successful, they will also have the opportunity to compete in the play-offs for the 2010 AFC Champions League. South China did enough to get past Neftchi (Uzbekistan) in the AFC Cup 2009 quarter-finals.

The only other Hong Kong team to have reached the same position of the AFC Cup is Sun Hei, which reached the 2005 semi-finals before losing 6-2 on aggregate to Lebanon’s Nejmeh.

The match officials for the South China (Hong Kong) vs Kuwait SC (Kuwait) match at Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong, 21 October, 20:00 are:
Match Commissioner: Rivilla Nazareno (Philippines)
Referee Assessor: D’costa Anthony John (India)
Referee: Mohammad Omar Al Saeedi (Oman)
Assistant Referee 1: Ahmad Nasser Bahrooz (UAE)
Assistant Referee 2: Mohammad Abdulla Jassim (UAE)
Fourth Official: Fareed Al Marzouqi (UAE)

Interestingly, referees from China make up the majority of the match officials for the other AFC Cup 2009 semi-final second leg:
Al Karamah (Syria) vs Becamex Binh Duong (Vietnam)
Khaled Ibn Al Waleed Staduim, Homs, 21 October, 19:30.

Match Commissioner: Mazen Ramadan (Lebanon)
Referee Assessor: Ali Bujsaim (UAE)

Referee: Tan Hai (China)

Assistant Referee 1: Tuo Wei Ming (China)

Assistant Referee 2: Huo Jige (China)

Fourth Official: Zhao Liang (China)

FA Charges Alex Ferguson Over Referee Remarks

The Football Association has deservedly charged Sir Alex Ferguson with improper conduct regarding his abuse of referee Alan Wiley.

Ferguson has already made a half-hearted attempt at a public apology but, considering the FA’s decision to charge him, this "apology" is likely to be viewed as insincere, disingenuous and contemptuous.

Sunderland’s Freak Goal Illegal and Wrongly Allowed

There is a code of conduct that recommends referees be supportive of other referees. This referees’ code is usually followed because there is a basic understanding and perhaps empathy amongst referees that “the only opinion that counts is the match referee’s opinion”. The person in that specific time and place is the only person capable of making a decision at that specific time and place. Simple as that.

However, this position of support for referees should not be “blindly and passionately followed” because within reason there are always limits. One limit is of course not being properly aware of the Laws of the Game. Referees, and especially professional referees, are expected to know the Laws of the Game inside out and to apply them consistently when necessary.

Mike Jones, the premiership referee who allowed the goal that was clearly caused by outside interference, made an error, made a mistake, and was wrong. In HKRef’s earlier post, the only reasonable support given to Mike Jones was to suggest that he did not have a clear view of the outside interference. However, considering the fact that Mike Jones consulted with his Assistant Referee (plus the fact that he has open communication with all his match officials), the decision to allow the goal to stand is even more bewildering.

Even ex-professional referees from the Premier League (i.e. Dermot Gallagher, Graham Poll, Jeff Winter) have gone on record to say that Mike Jones made a huge mistake. There can be no “closing ranks” or any hiding from the fact that the referee Mike Jones made an extraordinary error in a basic law of the game.

Furthermore, it must not be forgotten that managers (as well as football reporters, pundits, players, fans and almost everyone else interested in football) have revealed their ignorance of the Laws of the Game. Referees have long known about this shortcoming in non-referees!
Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez said: "These things happen. It's a very technical question but it has to be a goal."
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce revealed his contempt and lack of respect to referees by saying:If anyone knew that rule, that it should have been a drop ball, then you are one saddo. I didn’t know.”

The real “saddo” here is Steve Bruce and others like him who believe “swotting up” on the Laws of the Game somehow makes you a “lesser human being”. There is nothing wrong, and in fact there is great benefit, in being thoroughly knowledgeable about your interest, hobby, passion or profession (whatever it may be). But there is definitely something wrong, and nothing to be proud about, in being an ignoramus like Steve Bruce.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Sunderland Goal Should Have Been Disallowed Due to “Outside Interference”

During the Sunderland v Liverpool premiership match on 17 October 2009, the only goal scored in that match should not have been allowed, according to the Laws of the Game. In the 5’, Sunderland striker Darren Bent’s shot appeared to be covered by Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina but then it deflected off a red beach ball and went in the goal. The referee indicated a goal.

[Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina can only watch as the ball is deflected off the red beach ball and in to his goal]

The real shocker is just how many people (managers, players, commentators, football reporters) revealed their lack of knowledge of the Laws of the Game. During the match, there were no significant protests (largely because players most likely do not have complete knowledge of the Laws). Commentators and sports reporters did not comment whether the goal should have been disallowed. And after the match, Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is reported to have said: “It's just one of those things” although, to Sunderland manager Steve Bruce’s credit, he did query whether the goal was legal. Understandably, Bruce and the Sunderland players were happy to be awarded the goal and did not query the referee’s decision during the match.

Ultimately, it is in the opinion of the referee (Mike Jones) during the match that decides whether the goal is allowed or not. Only Mike Jones can explain why, in his opinion, the goal was legal. Looking at the replays, it appears the referee’s view may have been blocked by Liverpool defender Glen Johnson (so let’s wait and see if there will be an explanation). HKRef's guess is that referee Mike Jones will say that, from his angle, he thought Glen Johnson deflected the shot in to his own goal. Meanwhile, the offending red beach ball, which was located exactly 6 yards from the goal line, was knocked off the pitch during the match ball's deflection so the referee probably did not notice that it was an “outside interference” prior to the goal.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Optimum Officiating: AFC Cup 2009 QF 2nd Leg part 6

2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 6 of 6


The final minutes of this match are crucial and the referee works hard and does a fantastic job to keep up with play.

At 1:50, the ball goes out for a South China goal kick. South China captain (red #11) ties his bootlaces. South China keeper laughs and shares the joke. Referee signals for them to “get on with it”.

At 3:33, Referee blows whistle and signals the end of the match.

The referee team officiated the match intelligently and effectively.

Optimum Officiating: AFC Cup 2009 QF 2nd Leg part 5

2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 5 of 6


At 0:02, Neftchi player (yellow #19) fouls South China player (red #22). Referee remains calm and proactive.

At 1:23, South China captain (red #11) fouls Neftchi player (#22). Referee quickly covers ground to be present to manage the situation. South China captain is delaying restart, Netfchi player tries to place ball closer to goal, and Referee is keeping everything under control. The AR is helping by signaling to the 2-man wall not to encroach.

At 2:23, Neftchi player (yellow #29) fouls South China player (red #26). Good support by the AR, who signals to and then tells the referee that it was a tactical foul deserving a caution.

At 3:51, Referee signals to the 4th official to give 5 minutes of additional time. Additional time is allowed for 5 things: substitutions; assessment of injury to players; removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment; wasting time: and any other cause.

Referees guidelines recommend that 30 seconds by allowed for every goal or substitution, and 1 or 2 minutes be added for injuries and/or time-wasting, if they have occurred. Considering there were 4 substitutions and lots of time-wasting, giving 5 minutes of additional time seems correct and fair.

At 5:40, the 4th official announces there will be 5 minutes of additional time.

At 6:30, South China win a throw-in, and the Referee takes proactive steps to limit any delay in the restart.

Optimum Officiating: AFC Cup 2009 QF 2nd Leg part 4

2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 4 of 6


At 2:30, South China player (red #22) fouls Neftchi player (yellow #26). Good referee teamwork.

At 4:37, Referee plays advantage and allows South China (red) to carry on attacking. This is Optimal Officiating because a) playing advantage allows the game to flow and remain exciting, and b) prevents South China from using the incident as a means to delay restart.

At 4:55, South China player (red #26) is exhausted because of the advantage just applied by the Referee. The Referee clearly tells the player not to waste time. Then, South China captain (red #11) attempts to influence the Referee and complicate the situation (perhaps to cause more delay?) by saying that there should be a caution for the foul incident at 4:37. This is typical of the kind of pressure and bias players put on Referees. The Referee clearly tells the captain "No". The tackle by the Neftchi player was not reckless and it did not disrupt South China’s attacking move.

At 5:50, another South China player (red #2) goes down with cramp. Neftchi player (yellow #26) and Neftchi captain (yellow #23) reminds the Referee about South China’s delaying tactics. The Referee reassures them that he is keeping a close eye on this and that there will added time. Neftchi captain gives referee the “thumbs up”.

At 6:20, Referee signals for substitution (Neftchi)
At 6:40, Referee has to again manage the delaying tactics of South China. This time, South China are slow to restart play with a throw-in. Neftchi players (like captain yellow #23) are beginning to get irritated. The Referee remains calm.

At 7:30, South China player (red #26) is fouled. Referee’s body language quickly tells him to “get up and get on with it”. Red #26 knows this, and shares a cheeky smile/joke with the referee.

At 8:08, South China player wins ball fairly from Neftchi player. Neftchi player wants a foul. Referee correctly ignores him.

Optimum Officiating: AFC Cup 2009 QF 2nd Leg part 3

2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 3 of 6


At 0:01, Neftchi player (yellow #26) fouls South China player (red #30).

At 1:30, Neftchi player (yellow #26) is fouled by a South China player. The funny thing is that another South China player (red #30) believes he was fouled (by being pushed in the back). In fact, it was his own team-mate who pushed him!

At 2:15, Referee waves away a penalty appeal. No foul was committed.
At 2:27, Referee makes eye contact with the South China player to re-confirm that there was no foul, and the red shirt accepts this message.

At 3:33, Referee signals for substitutions (South China and Neftchi).

At 5:53, Neftchi (yellow) counter-attacked and had a great chance to score, but were denied by the South China keeper.

At 7:57, Referee signals a goal kick. He is proactive and warns the South China keeper not to delay.

At 8:30, South China player (red #2) fouls Neftchi player (yellow #20). The Referee is quick and decisive but gets the restart position slightly wrong.

At 9:09, Neftchi player (yellow #26) deliberately handles the ball. The Referee is quick to react and correctly cautions him. Yellow #26 also appeared to be offside. As the Referee stops to write in his notebook, his positioning is effective and it clearly tells the South China keeper to be ready for restart.

Optimum Officiating: AFC Cup 2009 QF 2nd Leg part 2

2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 2 of 6


At 00:50, South China player (red #21) falls to the ground. The Neftchi player (yellow #6) did not foul his opponent, and in fact withdrew his right leg to avoid any follow-through. The Referee deals with the theatrics and delaying tactics with a friendly gesture: he offers his hand to the red shirt.

At 2:35, Referee awards a free kick to Neftchi. However, not sure why this is an indirect free kick, since there was contact between the players as they challenged for the ball.

At 4:38, Referee signals for substitution (South China).

At 6:38, Referee signals for South China corner. Neftchi captain (yellow #23) is concerned about time-wasting, but the referee reassures him that time will be added on.

At 7:19, Referee has signaled a South China corner and is being proactive. The referee sends a broadcast message for South China not to delay restart.

At 8:10, Referee spots a South China player fall to the ground. It is another delay tactic by South China. Again, the referee reassures the Neftchi captain (yellow #23) that he is aware of the time.

Optimum Officiating: AFC Cup 2009 QF 2nd Leg part 1

2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 1 of 6


At 1:45, South China player (red #21) makes a tactical foul. By the reaction of the South China players (there are 4 red shirts crowding the ball), it is obvious that the intention is to delay restart. The Referee has the option to caution player #21, but instead opts to send a warning to the player. The Referee’s body language clearly says: “Any more, and it’s a caution”.
It actually takes 1 minute from the foul until the free kick restart.

At 3:45, foul.

At 7:14, Referee does a little shimmy (sidestep) to avoid getting in the way of play.
At 7:18, Referee spots an infringement.

At 8:50, Referee signals for a corner to South China. Referee takes proactive steps to guide the South China captain (red #11) to the corner and not to delay restart. Red #11 acknowledges this by patting the Referee’s butt!

At 9:26, Referee again signals for a corner to South China and again takes proactive steps.
At 9:50, Referee gives a clear broadcast message for players to refrain from holding and to behave.

Optimum Officiating: AFC Cup 2009 QF 2nd Leg

The referee team officiated the match between Hong Kong’s South China and Uzbekistan’s Neftchi intelligently and effectively.

During the half-time break, referees should use their time wisely by considering the match situation and possible team tactics. The half-time score is: South China (red) 1 : 0 Neftchi (yellow); and the aggregate score is 5:5.

Match situation. South China (red) are one goal up, and simply need to protect their lead in the second half to win the quarter-final tie against Neftchi (yellow). Neftchi need only to draw the game in order to win the quarter-final tie.

The experienced match officials understand that the home team’s strategy is to “run down the clock”. If the referee is not careful, tensions and ill-feelings could potentially escalate and boil over as one team seeks to delay, and the other team seeks to play.

The following related posts are 6 videoclips of the second half of the 2nd Leg Quarter Final tie, with punctuated remarks. The videoclips show that the referee’s management of this tension-filled second half is intelligent and effective.

2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 1 of 6
2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 2 of 6
2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 3 of 6
2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 4 of 6
2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 5 of 6
2009 09 30 South China v Neftchi AFC Cup 2009 6 of 6

HKRef welcomes comments and remarks about refereeing in particular, and football in general.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Alex Ferguson Wrong About Wiley And Referees

Sir Alex Ferguson's specific comments on Alan Wiley is seen by many as a general slur on the refereeing community. Referees up and down England, left and right across the world (including here in Hong Kong!) would like to see the English FA impose a significant punishment on Ferguson.

Ferguson questioned referee Alan Wiley's fitness and the evidence for Alan Wiley's performance does not support Ferguson's biased opinion (see graphic). The ProZone analysis of Alan Wiley's match performance reveal the referee covered more ground than all but seven players during the Manchester Utd v Sunderland match on 3 October 2009. Additional statistics show Wiley also sprinted when needed, was on average about 17 meters away from the ball, and was on average about 15 meters from fouls.

This evidence clearly shows that Alex Ferguson is wrong to criticize Alan Wiley's fitness, and his overall performance as a premiership referee.

Ferguson must explain his remarks to the English FA by 13 October 2009.

Plain ridiculous (Hong Kong Standard)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson has been asked by the English FA to explain his controversial comments about referee Alan Wiley while Blackburn's Sam Allardyce has escaped sanction over his remarks about Peter Walton.

Ferguson questioned Wiley's fitness after United's 2-2 draw with Sunderland, claiming the 49-year-old struggled to keep up with the pace of the match at Old Trafford.

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher felt the comments were unfair to all referees.

"I have never known a manager to say a referee wasn't fit enough. It's the most ridiculous comment I have ever heard," Gallagher said.

"The referees are fit for purpose. They are training four, five, six times a week ... to an intensity which 10 years ago I would never have believed."


Monday 5 October 2009

Alex Ferguson Verbally Abuses Premiership Referee Alan Wiley

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson accused referee Alan Wiley of being physically unfit, and could be charged by the FA with improper conduct.

Following Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland on Saturday 3 October 2009, Ferguson claimed that Wiley took “at least 30 seconds every time he booked a player” because he needed a rest.

Referees, referee assessors and reasonable independent observers watching the match can observe for themselves that Wiley had a very good game. For instance, Wiley had presence, anticipated play well, kept close to the action, correctly applied advantage (Two examples: as Darren Fletcher slid and lunged at Sunderland’s Andy Reid, which soon created Sunderland’s second goal; and as Johnny Evans slid and fouled Sunderland’s Jordan Henderson, which created a good attacking opportunity), and issued six justifiable cautions (two being for Sunderland's Kieran Richardson, who was sent off for a second yellow card).

[Alan Wiley is a fit, experienced and highly capable referee]

Even BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson and other commentators said referee Alan Riley “had a good game”. However whether comments about referees are good or bad, referees understandably do not to take opinions from managers, players, fans and football commentators seriously. This is because, in general, these 'critics' do not have a complete understanding of refereeing and the Laws of the Game (see future post titled Why Referees Close Ranks).

There is no evidence that Alan Wiley is unfit or unable to perform his duties as a referee. Alex Ferguson is wrong to attack Alan Wiley and should be charged with improper conduct. A public apology would not go amiss either.

Ferguson queries referee fitness (BBC Sport)
Man Utd 2-2 Sunderland (BBC Sport)
FA Charge Liverpool's No 1 and No 2 with Improper Conduct
English FA Condemns Referee Intimidation

Friday 2 October 2009

Fine-Tuning Penalty Kicks for Europa League Referees

Penalty kicks during the second round Europa League matches yesterday (1 October 2009) revealed how the Extra Assistant Referee (EAR) can complicate positioning matters. In this videoclip between Valencia and Genoa, the Referee awards a penalty kick to Genoa when the score is 2-1. Take a look at where the Referee and the EAR are positioned.

Question 1: Who saw the foul and did the EAR play a part?

Question 2: Why is the Referee standing in a different position to the standard position?

[From the videoclip, this is the positioning of the match officials during the penalty kick.]

The presence of the EAR appears to have shifted the R to stand on the right side of the goal during the penalty kick. In HKRef's opinion, this is not Optimum Officiating.

HKRef’s suggestion. For penalty kicks, an EAR standing on the goal line is redundant because the AR is already responsible for ensuring that the goalkeeper remains on the goal line before the ball is kicked, and that the ball crosses the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar. An EAR on the goal line is therefore a waste of an extra pair of eyes and a waste of “presence”.

What would be better is for the Referee to use the EAR to help keep an eye on other players and to help prevent them from running in to the penalty area before the ball is kicked. The presence of another match official near the 18 yard line can help deter players from entering the penalty area prematurely during penalty kicks.

[HKRef's suggestion for Optimum Officiating.]

Does anyone else have other suggestions?

Thursday 1 October 2009

South China Secure Semi-Final Slot

Hong Kong’s South China are through to the semi-finals of the 2009 AFC Cup with a comprehensive 1-0 win in the second-leg of their quarter-final tie against Uzbekistan's Neftchi. In last night’s return leg at Hong Kong Stadium, the Hong Kong Division One Champions overturned their AFC Cup first-leg 5-4 deficit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and ultimately won the tie by the away goals rule.

The all-important goal by Brazilian striker Leandro Silva came in the second minute of the first half. There were 4 yellow cards in total, and the referee team officiated the match intelligently and effectively (further details to follow).

South China (HKG) 1-0 Neftchi (UZB). Agg 5-5.

Caroliners edge into AFC Cup semis (SCMP; subscription required)
Chan Kin-wa and Agence France-Presse
Oct 01, 2009
South China moved a step closer to completing their AFC Cup mission after sneaking past Neftchi of Uzbekistan at Hong Kong Stadium last night.

A slender 1-0 victory was good enough to take them through to the semi-finals, thanks to the away goal rule after they banged in four goals in the first leg when they lost 5-4 to the Uzbekistanis two weeks ago.

Brazilian forward Leandro Silva scored the only goal in front of a 20,000 crowd, mostly in red shirts in support of the home team, after heading home a Leung Kin-pong's cross in the second minute. But the Caroliners, who have set their sights on reaching the final in order to represent Hong Kong in the AFC Champions League next year, also had goalkeeper Zhang Chunhui to thank.

Two excellent saves from the keeper in the second half, including a one-on-one situation against Neftchi striker Alisher Halikov in the 70th minute, kept their hopes alive. Zhang also punched away a free kick from Iqboljon Akramov before any Neftchi players could reach it from close range seven minutes later.

"I want to buy the goalkeeper a dinner," said South China coach Kim Pan-gon. "He made two important saves that has helped us through."

South China received bad news the night before the match when forward Tales Schutz was banned for three matches by the Asian Football Confederation which meant he was not available for the encounter.

Coach Kim said: "We played as a team and it proved tonight that other players could come in and do a good job in the absence of others. I don't think [the loss of Schutz] will affect us too much."

South China convenor Steven Lo Kit-sing thanked the 20,000 fans who braved the bad weather to support them, although the rain stopped just before the start of the match.

"I told the players before the start they could not afford losing the hearts of the fans," he said.

"And the players did not let me down and did not let the fans down. I know many of them are not South China fans but just came here to support Hong Kong football. And their presence means Hong Kong football still has a future."

Thursday 24 September 2009

First Round of Europa League Matches: Five or Six Match Officials?

Despite the negativity from Everton manager David Moyes, it will take more than one match or one round of Europa League matches to assess the benefits, if any, of UEFA’s experiment with goal-line referees.

[Extra AR on the goal line in a Europa League match on 17 September 2009]

Even the naming and numbering of this experiment has yet to stabilize or reach some consensus. For instance, UEFA and various media organizations are currently using terms like “extra assistant referees”, “goal-line referees”, “extra officials” and “five match officials”. And we all know that there are six match officials in the experiment.

So, let’s Wait-and-See!

Moyes critical of extra officials (BBC Sport)
Goalline referees to make debut in Europa League matches tomorrow
More Details About Europa League's Additional Referees Experiment
New Europa League will Trial "Five" Match Officials
Two extra pairs of eyes for referee teams
UEFA President hails UEFA Europa League

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Referee Busacca Banned for Three Matches

Referees make mistakes but even news that Massimo Busacca, Switzerland’s top referee, gave the “middle finger” gesture to fans came as a complete surprise.

Subsequently, the Swiss Football Association (SFA) has banned Busacca for 3 matches for his unsporting gesture at fans during a first-round Swiss Cup match between FC Baden and Young Boys on Saturday 19 September 2009.

There is no excuse for such behaviour, particularly for match officials. But at the same time, we should also acknowledge that 'to err is human'. Busacca has said he regretted his unsporting gesture and accepts his punishment.

[Note: The BBC story’s photo caption: “Mr Busacca is more used to giving red cards than receiving them” is wrong. He did not receive a red card, only a three-match suspension.]

Massimo Busacca officiated the 2009 Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United in Rome and, as Switzerland’s best referee, is set to referee World Cup matches in South Africa in 2010.