Saturday 29 December 2012

Checking the Goal Net ... Supposedly

The following incident occurred during the EAFF qualifying round, hosted in Hong Kong, between North Korea and Australia on Wednesday 5 December 2012. The match finished 1—1, and there were 4 YCs.

Just before the second half begins, the match officials and the players have returned to the field of play. Take a look at the following videoclip of AR1:

Did you see what AR1 did ... or rather did not do?

The identity of AR1 is unknown. Unfortunately, the East Asian Football Federation website lacks many details and only named the match Referee as Wang Zhe (who is either from China or Taiwan). At a guess, I think AR1 was from Thailand because AR2 was from Taiwan ... since each MA were invited to provide only one R and one AR ... so there were no trios). In any case, the officiating at the tournament, held from 1-9 December, was shockingly poor and if anyone would like to learn from the mistakes of other match officials (those who have FIFA badges), then watching match videos of this EAFF qualifying tournament is a good place to start!

For Future Discussion
Match officials who have FIFA badges have a responsibility to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities. Too many times we have witnessed many match officials who flout this responsibility. There is a flaw (perhaps many flaws) in the blanket-wide nature and blanketing culture in allowing each MA throughout the world the same number of match officials to wear FIFA badges, even though this means that there is a huge variation in ability, talent and attitude which largely depends on the quality of national refereeing programmes and also perhaps exposure to regular quality domestic matches. Just watching the FIFA match officials selected for the EAFF qualifying round, who came from China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, gave me concern about their ability, talent and attitude. This is a discussion for another time.

Happy New Year to everyone!!

Related News Story

Australia top standings as Hong Kong finish third in East Asian Cup qualifiers
Monday, 10 December, 2012, 12:00am
Chan Kin-wa

Australia qualified for next year's East Asian Cup finals on goal difference yesterday, edging out North Korea at Hong Kong Stadium.

With North Korea beating Hong Kong 4-0 in yesterday's first match, the Australians, level on points and goal difference with the Koreans at the start of the day, had a clear target against Taiwan.

Their mission was completed early as they banged in five goals in the first half, finishing 8-0 winners.
"I feel sorry we could not score more goals in the first two matches against Guam and Taiwan," said North Korea coach Yun Jong-su. "The overall result is a bit lower than our expectations as we've failed to reach the finals."

Australia, who are playing in the East Asian Cup for the first time, join Japan, South Korea and China in July's finals. "It is a welcome opportunity for me to see some of the boys building for the future as our priority is to qualify for the World Cup finals," said coach Holger Osieck.

Friday 14 December 2012

Mike Dean's Penalty Shootout Position

The following incident occurred during the penalty shootout phase of the League Cup Capital One quarterfinal match between Bradford City and Arsenal on Tuesday 11 December 2012. The match finished 1—1, with Bradford advancing 3—2 on penalties. There were 5 YCs.

Notice the positioning of the Referee and the AR

Referee Mike Dean has recently performed magnificently in the EPL (e.g. see Mike Dean Masterclass Display Part 1 and Part 2; as well as Mike Dean's Manchester Delight Part 1 and Part 2). Therefore, it was a big surprise to see this scene (above). Perhaps this is due to the lack of penalty kicks from the mark that Dean and his AR encounters … but still, there should be no excuse for not knowing the standard positioning for kicks from the penalty mark.

Related Posts

EARs Up Down Up Down

Referee Positioning: Kicks From the Penalty Mark

Sunday 9 December 2012

EARs: Cherry Picking With Collina Part 1 of 2

UEFA believe in the use of additional assistant referees:

"Two extra pairs of eyes focusing on the penalty areas are of valuable assistance to the referees and strengthen the referee team in confidence and numbers, while allowing the game to flow." — Michel Platini, UEFA president

HKRef admires Pierluigi Collina as a top top Referee. In his present role as UEFA Chief Refereeing Officer, it is perhaps understandable that he is toeing the line (Platini's line) in its support of using extra match officials which UEFA calls additional assistant referees (see Now We See More). In this instance HKRef is skeptical about Collina's claims unless, as mentioned back in 2009 (see New Europa League will Trial "Five" Match Officials), UEFA truly reveals the datasets and statistical analyses of their "experiment". The fact that UEFA has promoted their pre-conceived conclusions without providing any solid evidence is perhaps another issue for discussion.

Aside: Once again, as a matter related to native English language tendencies, this blog insists on using the term Extra Assistant Referees (EARs) instead of AARs (see earlier explanation here). The choice in using "additional" is most probably a decision made by a non-native English speaker … since for native English speakers it is more natural and easier to use "extra" rather than "additional" in everyday use.

In UEFA's videoclip (see Additional assistant referees DVD for FAs) Collina says:
The main goal of having two more match officials involved in the match is to give the referee support in taking decisions when something occurs in and around the penalty area and not to control the goal line only.

There are very few occasions when it is not clear if the ball has crossed, or not, the goal line and there are many more occasions when the incidents take place in and around the penalty area and the referee has to take a decision when not in the best position, or condition, to do it.

Close to 1,000 matches since August 2008 have used additional assistant referees [EARs]
UEFA's graphic claims 1000+, when in fact it should be ~1000

Collina claims that the results achieved are:
1) a better assessment of incidents, particularly fouls, occurring in and around the penalty area with the referees not able to make a decision;

2) a reduction of incidents like holding, pulling and blocking at set pieces (corner kicks, free kicks) has been widely noticed as the additional assistant referees presence works as a deterrent. If you consider that in most matches around 10 corner kicks and 8 free kicks are taken towards the penalty area and that in most of these holding and blocking can occur, it is easy to see why the additional assistant referees presence is so important**; and

3) a better control of the goal line to determine whether the ball crosses the line.

But something else we identified as a result of additional assistant referees presence:

4) An improved standard of assistant referees decision and accuracy as they can now focus their attention on offsides only. We had more than 96% accuracy on about 430 offside decisions with 27 goals scored on difficult offside-onside positions

UEFA used a videoclip of this AR (above) making an offside decision. What a shame this AR did not use the standard protocol and raise his flag straight up.

Note: This fourth point is the only instance where UEFA uses a dataset and statistics [why doesn't UEFA share their other datasets?]. This means 413 offside decisions were correct, out of 430. This also means 17 offside decisions were incorrect during EURO 2012.

** Collina uses anecdotal evidence to persuade. He claims EARs have a deterrent effect. Where are the statistics that show the presence of EARs have a deterrent effect? How is this actually measured and concluded?
For instance (as above) he said: It is easy to see why the additional assistant referees presence is so important. This is called Cherry Picking. Whenever something occurs that supports your claims, you accept it into your results, but whenever something occurs that goes against your claims, you ignore it. For instance in this post, the example of AC Milan's Gianluca Zambrotta pushing an opponent in the penalty area goes against what Collina is claiming, and so is conveniently ignored. UEFA and Collina cherry pick in their support of the use of EARs.

Here are examples UEFA and Collina use in their videoclip to support the use of EARs:

1) EURO 2012 Italy v Croatia on 14 June 2012 at Municipal Stadium Poznan

EAR2 Mark Clattenburg spots and shouts: "defensive foul, defensive foul, defensive foul"

Referee Howard Webb says: "Yes, great play Clatts. We both saw that one. All nicely done" [This is what is heard from the videoclip]

This is UEFA's translation of Webb's English 

To European ears, "great play" magically becomes "great spotting". A native English speaker would never be caught saying "great spotting" (just as a native English speaker would much prefer to say "extra" instead of "additional").

Collina says, in all seriousness: "The voices are from the English match officials, with English subtitles."

Haha. Collina and UEFA are apparently so worried that Mark Clattenburg's Geordie (North-East) accent and Howard Webb's Yorkshire accent may not be so easily or universally understood, which is why they inserted English subtitles. Using that same "logic", this whole UEFA videoclip should have been subtitled because Collina's English accent (his English has a very strong Italian accent) may also not be so easily or universally understood. For example, Collina pronounces UEFA as sounding like "wafer".

And let's not get sidetracked with the humorous use, or non-use, of subtitles! Even though Collina is claiming that the EAR did a great job in identifying the foul, the fact is the Referee actually identified the defensive foul himself (this is what Webb clearly said on the communication system). So what is Collina's point?

Note: These are honest observations, and there is no intention of being disrespectful. If any reader has a problem with this blog's observations then they are welcome to leave this site.

Please see Part 2 of EARs: Cherry-Picking With Collina, where more examples will be presented.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Referee Mark Clattenburg Back In Command Part 1 of 2

The following incidents occurred during the EPL match between Arsenal and Swansea on Saturday 1 December 2012. The match finished 0—2, with 1YC.

This was Referee Mark Clattenburg's first match back in the middle following his forced 4-week hiatus due to Chelsea's poor and pathetic allegation that he used racist and 'inappropriate language' to Chelsea players in November's match against Manchester United. Clattenburg produced a commanding performance.

Incident One: Foul Identification

In the 5', Clattenburg showed he was still sharp and up to speed with the EPL as he spotted a foul by Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen (red 5) on Swansea attacker Michu (white 9). Here are the freeze frames:

Referee Clattenburg had to see through some players from about 20 yards away

Whether this tackle is considered careless or reckless depends on the standard imposed by the match referee. We know the EPL is a physical league with many Referees permitting tough challenges. Furthermore, this challenge occurred in the 5' and many experienced defenders "test the water" in the opening minutes of a match with heavy tackles.

Incident Two: Clattenburg's Characteristic Cowboy Crouch

In the 14', Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny pulls off a double save and the ball goes out for a corner. Here are some freeze frames:

Clattenburg has put himself in the standard position, and with his characterisic legs apart as if straddling a horse. This is perhaps related to his Classic Cowboy Crouch when he performs his duties as an EAR (extra AR).

Plus there is a potential pun about "Being put straight back on the saddle" that may be lost on Clattenburg's employers who unfortunately did not give the positive impression that they were supporting him in the face of, and subsequent failure of, Chelsea's racism charge.

Incident Three: Obstructing An Opponent

In the 51' Arsenal attacker Gervinho plays a quick one—two but is obstructed by Swansea defender Chico Flores. Here are the freeze frames:

Replays suggest it was a foul, but since Clattenburg was very close to the play he immediately put his hands behind his back to communicate to everyone that, in the opinion of the Referee, there was no foul.

The incident occurred outside the penalty area, so if a foul was awarded it would have been a DFK just outside the box.

Incident Four: No Penalty Call

In the 71', Clattenburg makes an excellent decision when Arsenal attacker Olivier Giroud is suddenly put through on goal. Swansea defender Chico Flores makes a last-gasp tackle. Here are the freeze frames:

Giroud has green-tipped boots and Flores has white-tipped boots, which helps reviewers and assessors when watching replays!

Clattenburg acknowledges his AR2, since there is clear communication between them. AR2 probably assisted by saying something like "no foul" or "no penalty".

Arsene Wenger thinks "penalty"

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger appears mortified that nothing (no penalty, no red card) was given. From his view from the technical area (far away and possibly without the proper angle), it may have looked as though it was a foul.

This was a great call, and will be further mentioned when this post resumes in Part 2 of Referee Mark Clattenburg Back In Command.

Welcome back Clatts!