Friday 2 December 2011

Soft Referee Not Helped By Poor Team of Assistants

The following incidents occurred during a Europa League group match between Sporting Braga and Birmingham City on Wednesday 30 November 2011. The match finished 1—0.

Incident One Handball and Penalty Call

In the 1', a handball incident occurs right in front of the extra assistant referee (EAR). This is a tough call, and there are some Referees who may give a penalty in the same situation. Perhaps the correct decision was made in not giving the penalty since the distance the ball travelled plus the natural position of the arms for balance suggests it was not deliberate.

The EAR is clearly seen to shout "NO". But it appears he is talking to the players rather than the Referee.

Incident Two Penalty Call

In the 10', a Birmingham attacker (blue) is hauled down by a Braga defender (red 5) in front of the EAR.

Although a penalty was awarded (as well as a caution to the Braga defender), it is unclear whether the Referee received any assistance from his EAR or AR. As a Referee it would be comforting to know that, during these swift breakaway attacks when the R is far behind play, the AR (and EAR) can be relied upon to provide good information. Did the AR and EAR provide good information to the R? Or did the R just decide by himself?

In a future post (Insightful Camera View Showing The Ineffectiveness of EARs), I question whether the EAR assisted the Referee in this instance.

Incident Three Stopping A Promising Attack

In the 13', Braga defender (red 5) trips a Birmingham attacker. The Referee has a BIG decision to make. The Referee realizes that only minutes ago he cautioned the defender, and this time awards only a DFK.
Referee Markus Strömbergsson (Sweden)

Braga's Ewerton benefits from soft-option refereeing

This is soft-option Refereeing and goes against the Collina principle (i.e. “The best referee is the one who has the courage to make decisions even when it would be easier not to.”).

It is also unclear whether the AR or EAR gave any assistance to the Referee regarding this yellow card offence. At the very least, it could have been brought to the Referee's attention via the CommLinks.

Incident Four Tight Offside Call

In the 51', the AR flags for offside against Birmingham (blue). It is a tight call, and although the unspoken rule is geared toward promoting attacking play, it would be harsh to criticize the AR for his decision.

After seeing this, it was OK to give the AR the benefit of the doubt (and hope that he stays focused for the remainder of the match).
Will the AR stay focused for the remainder of the match ... ?

Incident Five Incorrect Offside Call

In the 64', the AR does two things wrong.

First, the AR incorrectly judges the Birmingham attacker (blue) to be in an offside position as the ball is played forward by the Birmingham goalkeeper.

Second, the AR quickly raises his flag even though the flighted ball has yet to come down and make contact. The AR has neglected the principle of Wait and See.
The AR's flag is up before the ball has come down (Camera 1)

The ball has yet to come down but the AR's flag is up (Camera 2)

This time, the AR does not deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt. He has clearly erred.


The performance of the Referee and his team did not inspire.

A future post will look at the ineffectiveness of EAR during Incident Two

The match officials were:

Markus Strömbergsson (SWE)
Assistant referees
Magnus Sjöblom (SWE), Daniel Wärnmark (SWE)
Fourth official
Michael Lerjeus (SWE)
Additional assistant referees (EARs)
Daniel Stålhammar (SWE), Johan Hamlin (SWE)

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