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?

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