Tuesday 30 April 2013

EARs Do Not See … or Hear … or Assist!

There is a dedicated Referees' Blog called The Third Team which produces excellent insight, great comments and useful assessment reports that can help any match official improve themselves. I thoroughly recommend The Third Team.

One example from The Third Team is an excellent analysis regarding Referee Victor Kassai's handling of the Bayern Munich and Barcelona Champions League semifinal first-leg match on Wednesday 24 April 2013. The match finished 4—0; there were 7 YCs.

HKRef would just like to highlight the incident leading up to Bayern Munich's third goal in the 73'. Here are the freeze frames:

Arjen Robben (red 10) scores Bayern Munich's third goal

Let's look at the Additional Assistant Referee or EAR (blue). During the play, what is he looking at?

Thomas Muller (red 25) deliberately bodychecks Jordi Alba (blue 18) who was focused on chasing Robben (red 10)

The Additional Assistant Referee (or EAR) is simply ball-watching. He does not appear to take in the overall event that is developing in front of him. Only when Barcelona's Jordi Alba hits the ground does EAR1 turn his head quickly to glance back before following the ball again.

This is yet another example—to add to many others accumulated from nearly 1,000 matches (e.g. here, here and here)—that demonstrate the ineffectiveness of EARs. Players secretly laugh at UEFA's claim that the presence of extra match officials act as a deterrent to unsporting behaviour in and around the penalty area.

This blog's central thesis about EARs is:
    Central Thesis
    My main argument is not the fact that EARs are ineffective and redundant (which, in many incidents, they are ) or that EARs do not help or enhance the game. It is worse than that and much more serious.

    My main argument is the fact that EARs can have a detrimental effect on the performance of the match Referee and hence can contribute to ruining the game since match officials will be perceived to be making more, instead of less, errors.

I feel sorry for Pierluigi Collina, chief refereeing officer at UEFA, having the task of promoting the use of EARs simply because his boss Michel Platini insists on using extra match officials. The use of EARs (and goal-line technology) is more a political agenda amongst those in the upper echelons of power, rather than a genuine attempt to really help match officials.

Ultimately, match officials require clear, consistent and credible support from competition organizers (e.g. taking effective retrospective action to punish players and clubs for unsporting behaviour) so that all players and clubs will eventually think twice before deciding to deceive Referees. If UEFA, FIFA and other competition organizers fully support Referees, and are seen to fully support Referees, by being willing to take retrospective action then in general players and clubs will automatically behave themselves and there will be more Respect for Match Officials. It is that simple.

The match officials were:
Referee    Viktor Kassai (HUN)
Assistant referees    Robert Kispal (HUN), Gabor Erös (HUN)
Fourth official    György Ring (HUN)
Additional assistant referees    Tamás Bognar (HUN), Mihaly Fabian (HUN)

Although this blog is highly critical of the use of EARs, HKRef has thought about situations where EARs may indeed prove useful. Take a look at this analysis where EARs May Be Useful.

Monday 29 April 2013

Penalize Players For Making Political, Religious, Personal Statements

The following incident occurred during the EPL match between Everton and Fulham on Saturday 27 April 2013. The match finished 1—0, with 4YCs.

Penalize players like Pienaar for making political, religious or personal statements. Pic courtesy Getty Images.

Everton's Steven Pienaar is a serial offender in getting his religious message across whenever he scores. He usually pulls his shirt up over his head, as he did again last weekend.

Although Referee Jon Moss failed to show Pienaar a mandatory YC, the competition organizers and FIFA are more to blame for lacking the conviction to enforce the LOTG.

The LOTG state:
    Players must not reveal undergarments showing slogans or advertising. The basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal statements.
    A player removing his jersey or shirt to reveal slogans or advertising will be sanctioned by the competition organiser. The team of a player whose basic compulsory equipment has political, religious or personal slogans or statements will be sanctioned by the competition organiser or by FIFA.

Related Post

Political, Religious or Personal Statements

Thursday 25 April 2013

Indecent Assault In Indonesia

The following incident occurred during an Indonesian Super League match between Persiwa Wamena and Pelita Bandung Raya on Sunday 21 April 2013. The match finished 1—2.

In the final 10 minutes of the match with the score balanced at 1—1, the Referee awarded a penalty to Pelita Bandung Raya. Persiwa Wamena's Pieter Rumaropen (green 10) was full of rage and approached the referee from behind to throw a left hook that broke his nose.

The Referee and his bloodied shirt

The Referee was admitted to hospital due to excessive bleeding from his nose. After a delay of 15 minutes, a replacement Referee resumed play. His first action was to send off Rumaropen.

Shocking Video : Punch Referee & Broke his nose ..Bleeding (YouTube)

Three years ago, HKRef observed the same Indonesian team when they visited Hong Kong. The same Edison Pieter Rumaropen is seen engaging in unsporting behavior (playacting and feigning injury). Watch the videoclip.

UPDATE: Apparently, the PSSI (The Football Association of Indonesia) has banned Pieter Rumaropen for life.

Related Posts

Life Ban for Chinese Player Who Attacked Referee

Player in Chile Gets 27-Match Ban for Strangling Referee

Thursday 4 April 2013

Trendsetting: Referee Shirts

Referee Nicola Rizzoli with his name printed on his shirt collar. Pic courtesy Imago/Actionplus

This picture was spotted because of the send off incident in the Serie A match between Inter Milan and Juventus on Saturday 30 March 2013. The match finished 1—2.

The send off was an obvious SFP because Inter Milan's Esteban Cambiasso (blue/black 19) used "excessive force or brutality against an opponent when challenging for the ball when it is in play". Cambiasso endangered the safety of an opponent.
(Compare this with Nani's send off which produced mixed responses, as opposed to near universal agreement for Stepanenko's challenge).

The Daily Mail news article reported Inter Milan midfielder Esteban Cambiasso's challenge on Sebastian Giovinco to be similar, if not worse, than Callum McManaman's shocking tackle on Massadio Haidara. Although there are similarities including the end result of studs forcibly landing on an opponent, there are also differences between the two challenges. However, the media will use any "trick" to grab the headlines!

Anyway back to the main point of this post: will this become a trend for top Referees? Shirts with Referees' names. It is interesting that this is currently happening in Serie A, where Pierluigi Collina and his Referees Committee at UEFA appear to have an influence. For instance Collina and UEFA already have an influence in Italy because Serie A adopts UEFA's view in using Additional Assistant Referees (or EARs), unlike in other top domestic leagues such as the EPL, Bundesliga and La Liga which do not use EARs. UEFA obviously insist all Champions League and Europa League matches must use EARs because those are its own competitions.

Furthermore, during EURO 2012, Collina also promoted Shirt Swapping between Referees and players. This is a stupid idea but it appears that if top Italian Referees now have shirts with their names printed on them, then Collina may yet see his Shirt Swapping idea take off. HKRef disagrees with the idea where Referees swap shirts with players.

HKRef admires Collina's achievements on the pitch. However, so far many of Collina's off-pitch decisions (e.g. referees swapping shirts, supporting the use of EARs, dismissing goal-line technology) have been poor and unconvincing.

Monday 1 April 2013

What is SFP?

The following incident occurred during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Europe between Ukraine and Moldova on Tuesday 26 March 2013. The match finished 2—1, and there were 2YCs and 1RC.

Red Card during Ukraine and Moldova on Tuesday 26 March 2013 (YouTube)

Ukraine's Taras Stepanenko (yellow 6) is guilty of serious foul play for using "excessive force or brutality against an opponent when challenging for the ball when it is in play". Stepanenko endangered the safety of an opponent. Here are the freeze frames:

Although Referees and readers on this site are never going to be a homogenous group (meaning there will always be dissenting voices, as seen by the sometimes pithy and unconstructive comments left on this blog) … looking at Stepanenko's action, I would think that the majority of sensible Referees and readers would agree with Referee Kenn Hansen's decision to issue a straight Red Card.

Now compare Stepanenko's action with the Nani—Arbeloa incident, and I would think that amongst sensible Referees and readers, some would think "Yellow Card", some "Red Card", and others may not even think a direct free kick is necessary. That is, in general there are mixed responses to Nani's action.

The fact that Cuneyt Cakir's decision to send off Nani has raised so many mixed responses (compared with Hansen's decision) amongst sensible Referees and readers should tell us that there is something significantly wrong with the interpretation of serious foul play (SFP).

Just for good measure, now consider how Referees and players accept the use of the scissors or bicycle kick (as demonstrated often by Peter Crouch and other players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic) especially in crowded areas where contact with other players is highly likely. At most, Referees award a yellow card when a player connects with an opponent's head because it is only deemed to be acting "with complete disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, his opponent".
Question: When players perform scissors or bicycle kicks and connect with an opponent's head, why is this not considered "endangering the safety of an opponent"?

We know that the FA and PGMOL in England do not consider bicycle kicks to be send-off offences. But perhaps Pierluigi Collina and his Referees committee at UEFA may think so? We simply do not know (yet).
However, what we do know is that Collina and UEFA take a relatively harsher view in its interpretation of Law 12 because we know that for Nani's action the FA probably would not award a Red Card, whereas UEFA has interpreted it to be SFP.

Conclusion: the interpretation of SFP remains a grey area.

Note: Referee Kenn Hansen (Denmark) was excellent in his man-management skills. He knew the offending player (Stepanenko) would be subjected to criticism and even possible physical retaliation from players of the opposing team. Therefore Hansen quickly cordoned off Stepanenko from other players. This is optimum officiating and Hansen deserves praise and plaudits for his sensible and sensitive handling of the situation. Here are the freeze frames:
 Referee Kenn Hansen cooly and calmly cordons off Stepanenko from other players


If Referees need to physically step in to separate players, then this is the best approach. Hansen was cool, calm and collected and knew what he had to do.

The worst approach is to use brute force to physically separate or push players away … which is demonstrated often by Howard Webb's physical approach to man-handling players. Webb's way to separate players is way too physical, excessive and untidy (examples can be seen here, here and here).