Monday 25 February 2013

EARs Ineffective Again

Once again Additional Assistant Referees, or EARs, have shown themselves up by their ineffectiveness.

The following incident occurred during the UCL Round of 16 first-leg match between Celtic and Juventus on Tuesday 12 February 2013. The match finished 0—3; there were 6YCs.

In the 3', the whole of the ball crossed the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar. Here are the freeze frames:

The goal was given to Juventus player Alessandro Matri (black 32) although it was not clear which match official actually saw the whole of the ball cross the goal line. The EAR did not give a signal, and media reports suggest it was the AR who made the call. However, it is not clear.

If the match officials are not 100% sure then they cannot give the goal. Perhaps in real time the true goalscorer was Juventus player Marchisio (8) who followed up and convincingly put the ball into the back of the net.

Former EPL referee Dermot Gallagher said:
"The problem for me is I don’t think there is any tangible evidence that they [EARs] do anything. But for a Juventus player [Marchisio (8)] following up a shot very, very quickly we could have had another Holocaust last night. I am convinced that the assistant and the guy on the goal line don’t know the ball is in."

HKRef is also convinced that the EAR and AR did not know the ball is in … although HKRef would not be so bold as to use the term "Holocaust" to describe such fallout incidents.

The match officials were:
Referee  Alberto Undiano Mallenco (ESP)
Assistant referees  Roberto Díaz Pérez del Palomar (ESP), Jesús Calvo Guadamuro (ESP)
Fourth official  Raúl Cabanero Martínez (ESP)
Additional assistant referees  Fernando Teixeira (ESP), César Muñiz (ESP)

Note: In this match, the amount of holding, pulling and blocking in and around the penalty area during corner kicks and free kicks was absurd. Remember, UEFA made the claim, without any real evidence, that the presence of EARs helps to reduce the amount of holding, pulling and blocking in and around the penalty area. How ridiculous. If match referees consistently do their jobs properly, then the amount of holding, pulling and blocking will drop because players would be afraid to give away penalties or free kicks at every corner kick.

Friday 15 February 2013

One Stamp, Not Two, And You're Out

The following incident occurred during the UCL Round of 16 first-leg match between Valencia and Paris Saint Germain on Tuesday 12 February 2013. The match finished 1—2; there were 2YCs and 1RC.

Incident One: Offside? Foul? What?

In 72', Referee Paolo Tagliavento whistles for an infringement. Here are the freeze frames:

In some media accounts, it was an offside call (even from the commentary on the UEFA website, it stated offside). The way Referee Tagliavento walks over and positions himself indicates that he has called offside. However, this is far from certain because his arm signal is NOT straight up to indicate an IFK. It appears to be angled to indicate a DFK (and therefore, a foul). But if it was for a foul, the Referee's position to indicate restart is wayward.

This is soft-option officiating because there was a more important decision that the Referee did not call.

PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic stamped on his opponent.
Incredibly, Valencia João Pereira (12) did not appear to be affected by the stamp and got up immediately because he was actually protesting the goal. From his perspective, he was the one who was fouled (and incidentally had played the ball forward, which meant technically PSG's Chantôme (20) was not offside). Here are the freeze frames:

How can Ibrahimovic (blue) play the ball forward?
Instead, it was a stamp ... a cynical stamp

No matter how we look at this incident, the actions of the Referee and his assistants do not appear competent or professional.

Incident Two: Stamp Number Two

In the 90'+2', PSG striker Ibrahimovic has been dispossessed of the ball and makes a lunge at an opponent. Here are the freeze frames:

The AR and EAR both have a good angle of view of the foul. Where is the Referee?

AR signals a foul. Where is the Referee?

AR takes action. Is the EAR effective and doing anything useful?

AR puts up his flag up using his right (why?) hand. Why the right hand? Where is the Referee?

At last here comes the Referee ...

Referee Tagliavento with the whistle in his mouth ... does not look very good!

AR did well to signal this serious foul play

That's two studs-up stamps missed by Referee Tagliavento. In the first incident, the match officials' actions did not look good. With the second incident, although the AR did a great job in assisting the Referee, the EAR is not visibly doing anything (except just standing there and staring) and the Referee is nowhere near the incident. The Referee was not near, and did not have a clear view of the incident. His credibility is low and the Referee further cuts down his credibility by keeping the whistle in his mouth as he approached and sanctioned Ibrahimovic. Very poor impression.

The match officials were:

Referee:  Paolo Tagliavento (ITA)
Assistant referees:  Mauro Tonolini (ITA), Lorenzo Manganelli (ITA)
Fourth official:  Riccardo Di Fiore (ITA)
Additional assistant referees:  Andrea De Marco (ITA), Antonio Damato (ITA)

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Clattenburg's Consistent Crouch and the Usual Encroachment

The following incidents occurred during the EPL match between Aston Villa and West Ham United on Sunday 10 February 2013. The match finished 2—1; there were 5YCs.

These are just some observations of referee Mark Clattenburg.

Incident One: DFK

There is a DFK to West Ham (blue) and Clattenburg takes up the standard recommended position prior to restart.

Incident Two: Penalty Call

In the 73', West Ham's Mark Nobel (blue 16) makes a clumsy challenge and trips Aston Villa's Charles N'Zogbia (maroon 10) in the penalty area. Here are the freeze frames:

 Mark Noble (blue 16) carelessly sticks a leg out and does not get the ball
 It is an easy call to make


Mark Noble approaches Referee Mark Clattenburg and begs innocence and pleads leniency

This kind of approach, where one player (the player who committed the offense, in this case Mark Noble) speaks to the referee is perfectly fine and understandable. And a competent, credible and experienced referee like Clattenburg has no trouble managing this situation.

However, when more than two players approach the referee to dispute and challenge the referee's decision (often in an angry, aggressive and intimidatory manner), that is where things will get out of hand. Clubs (i.e. coaches and players) should be reminded of this and to uphold the Respect Campaign.

Incident Three: Penalty Kick

Notice Clattenburg's crouching stance. Also, he does not do anything about encroachment (see related posts here).
 Encroachment at penalty kicks

Incident Four: DFK

In the 77' Clattenburg awards a DFK to Aston Villa just outside the penalty area. Here are the freeze frames:

Clattenburg's crouch. Again, there is nothing wrong with his crouching stance except for the fact that it looks odd especially when other people (i.e. players on the pitch) stand "normally" and are ready to react to play.


Despite Clattenburg's Classic Cowboy Crouch, his positioning is of more concern, since the question to ask is whether this is the optimal position for the referee to stand.
Last week, Clattenburg gave a DFK in a similar location and also stood behind the ball.
Referee Howard Webb does this too and Phil Dowd dawdles. Is this a PGMOL recommendation for positioning at free kicks?

What impression does the referee give by standing like this?
Are impressions important for match officials?

Sunday 10 February 2013

Clattenburg's Consecutive Loss of Concentration

The following incidents occurred during the EPL match between West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur on 3 February 2013. The match finished 0—1; there was 1YC and 1RC.

In the 32', three incidents occurred one after another that lead to questions about the first-half performance of the match referee Mark Clattenburg. How focused is he?

Incident One: Attacking player fouled

In the 32', Spurs' Jermain Defoe (18) is fouled in the D and the ball falls to another Spurs attacker Clint Dempsey (2). Here are the freeze frames:

Referee Clattenburg whistles here ... just before Dempsey (2) takes a shot from the 18 yard line

Dempsey's shot sails wide of the upright ...

... and Clattenburg perhaps breathes a sigh of relief !!

Referee Mark Clattenburg is too hasty in whistling for a DFK. This time the ball was shot wide; however, imagine the uproar if the ball had gone into the net.
Q1: What should the referee do in such circumstances?
If that scenario ever happens (and they do occur), here is a recent example of what NOT to do (click here for Major Law Screwup in an MLS Match).

Incident Two: Clattenburg's Cowboy Stance and Positioning

Clattenburg has a characteristic standing or crouching position (first called Clattenburg's Classic Cowboy Crouch on this blog).
Note: There is nothing wrong with this ... it is just an observation and many match officials have their particular irks, perks and quirks (which will be highlighted on this blog whenever they are seen ... without fear or favour!).

Clattenburg likes to stand with his legs apart (another example here)

Q2: During the taking of this DFK, is this the best position for the match referee?

Incident Three: Holding an Opponent

From Clattenburg's position (he is standing directly behind the ball), can he see the pulling and holding in the penalty area? Here are the freeze frames:

Spur's Scott Parker (8) has pulled Albion's Graham Dorrans (17) out of the way so that Gareth Bale (11) can have a clear shot on goal

Q3: Did (and could) Clattenburg see the infringement?

In summary from these three consecutive incidents in the 32', it is natural to ask how focused was Clattenburg during the first-half of this match?

Incident Four: Spitting at an Opponent

In the 49', Albion's Goran Popov (4) spits at Spurs' Kyle Walker (28). Here are the freeze frames:

Popov's spit can clearly be seen against the blue background (blue left sleeve of someone clapping)

Clattenburg is quickly at the scene and correctly sends off Popov. No doubt that Clattenburg is refreshed from the half-time break, and this incident has helped him keep his focus for the remainder of the match.