February 29, 2016

Complete EURO 2016 Referee Teams Ready

As announced in last December, UEFA seems to have determined the full referee teams for EURO 2016 in February - in the literal nick of time and, if there was no leap year, even with slight delay...

Each team consists of five match officials who will definitely attend France. In case of an injury of an Assistant Referee before the tournament, the respectively appointed Reserve Assistant Referees will jump in.

With Aleksei Kulbakov and Tasos Sidiropoulos, two Fourth Officials have been nominated.

The 25th Team in France:
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February 22, 2016

Felix Zwayer's Match Suspension: An Absolutely Overdue Signal

Incredible, historical and an absolutely overdue signal: As most of you have probably already seen, German Bundesliga and UEFA First Group Referee Felix Zwayer of Berlin decided to suspend Sunday's top match between Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund for nine minutes - because Leverkusen's coach Roger Schmidt refused to be sent off onto the seats. 

Check this video (click on the pic):


What happened?

Minute 64: A Dortmund player was clearly fouled in the midfield. Zwayer correctly awarded a free-kick. Dortmund made a quick free-kick whose position was 5,8m away from where the offence had occurred. From this quickly taken free-kick, Dortmund's Aubameyang scored the only goal of the evening.

Minute 65: Protests emerged. Some players protested - according to some Dortmund players -, because they thought the ball had not been stationary. Most likely they criticized the wrong free-kick position though. Leverkusen coach Schmidt protested too much and was therefore sent off to the seats - having already been warned by the fourth official earlier in the game. 

Minute 66: Schmidt continuously ignored to leave the technical area.

Minute 67: Zwayer asked the captain, Stefan Kießling - the scorer of Felix Brych's legendary ghost goal - to make his coach leave the technical area as kind of very last warning. Reading Zwayer's lips, he already indicated that otherwise he would have to halt the game. As Schmidt still did not want to go off, Zwayer ordered the teams to leave the pitch. Play was re-started 9 minutes later.
Technical Aspects

First, the free-kick decision was absolutely correct. The Laws of the Game and UEFA's practical information for match officials actually prescribe that direct free-kicks - and even quick free-kicks - have to be taken from where the offence occurred. Of course nobody knows the exact moment as the human eye is not finetuned that much in such situations. Allowing some metres deviance is surely justifiable given a) common sense (a quick counterattack was prevented, so that the non-offending team should profit from a quick execution of the free-kick) and b) a certain margin of discretion which the referee has. For my taste, 5,8m is definitely borderline, but understandable. Everybody who once has stepped on a football field knows best that estimating distances depends on the visual angle you have - from the TV or the sideline, 6 metres look more dramatically than from Zwayer's position.

Suspending the match is clearly in line with what the Laws and guidelines prescribe: If a player or team official refuses to leave the field of play or technical area having been sent off by the referee, play has to be suspended and the referee has to threaten the liable team with abandoning the match.

So, was Zwayer's decision fully right?

In my view: Yes. Allowing the free-kick as it was executed is justifiable or at least defendable for the reasons given above. Most people critizing Zwayer for his decision focussed on another point: He should have walked out to the coach and explained him a) his decision and b) why he has sent him off to the seats.

Some remarks on that:

1. It is the referee's good right to choose how he communicates with players or team officials who have been sent off. Like you do not have to justify yourself for a red card that was just issued, you do not have to explain the decision to send a coach off. If a coach is in a rage, you can try to calm him down. But you don't have to. In such cases, it is common praxis that the team captain functions as a medium between the referee and team officials.

2. What Roger Schmidt did was nothing but challenging the referee. Checking who has the bigger balls - or in less vulgar words - who has more pull. 

a) Having immediately shaken his head after he was ordered to the tribune with a hand signal, Schmidt exactly knew what he was doing. The assistant referee even told him something like "Don't make it worse than it already is!".

b) Like a disappointed child, he ordered Zwayer to come to him, making gestures like "you should come to me!" If you, as a referee, react to THAT, you can better directly throw your authority in the dustbin.

c) Schmidt's co-coach even told him "come on, leave it..." - Schmidt denied that. 

d) Kießling definitely informed him about what Zwayer said. He must have told him "otherwise he suspends the match" - reading Schmidt's lips, he said "He should do that...!". I am pretty sure that Schmidt did not expect that Zwayer stands by his promises...


In my opinion, Felix Zwayer cannot be praised much enough for his decision for different reasons. There is only one thing that can be maybe criticized: Ideally, he could have directly walked out to him. Immediately after the goal, after the very first protests. Like someone to whom I spoke correctly pointed out, sending someone off from much distance is "no premium solution" - Manuel Mejuto González knows that best. I however can understand why he did not do it. As soon as Schmidt tried to gain the upper hand by his "come here"-gestures, Zwayer had no other choice - he had to stay where he is.

What the world of football witnessed yesterday was a very necessary signal. Coaches turn respectless more and more. It has been the literal low point of a long trend observable during the past seasons. I think I don't have to remind you on situations like that

The behaviour shown by some coaches like all those 'special ones' during and after the match would be described as choleric by most people and as psychopathic or narcisstic by most psychologists.

The big problem is that the behaviour at the very top - by players like Neymar diving more than playing football, by coaches behaving as Schmidt has behaved - one-to-one reaches the grassroot level at the next weekend.

Zwayer's decision, courage and determined body language is, from my point of view, nothing but a strongly needed support for hundred of thousands amateur referees keeping this sport alive every week and a very needed and overdue signal sending pictures that are going around the world. He has done something good for us referees and our authority, even though he very likely did not realize it in that moment.
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Europa League 2015/16 - Round of 32 - Referee Appointments (II)

These are the choices made by UEFA Referees Committee for Europa League's Round of 32 second legs. Israeli Liran Liany will be in charge of Braga - Sion. 

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Youth League 2015/16 - Round of 16 - Referee Appointments

UEFA has appointed the following officials  to handle 2015/16 UEFA Youth League  Round of 16 matches.

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Champions League 2015/16 - Round of 16 (IV): Daniele Orsato and Antonio Mateu Lahoz to complete First Leg's appointments

Daniele Orsato and Antonio Mateu Lahoz are the referees appointed by UEFA for PSV - Atletico and Dynamo Kyiv - Manchester City.  The Italian Elite will make his debut in CL KO phase, under the eyes of UEFA Referees Committee's Marc Batta.

20:45 CET -  Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands
PSV Eindhoven


Atletico Madrid

Referee: Daniele Orsato (ITA)
Assistant Referee 1: Lorenzo Manganelli (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Riccardo Di Fiore (ITA)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Paolo Valeri (ITA)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Daniele Doveri (ITA)
4th Official: Elenito Di Liberatore (ITA)
UEFA Referee Observer: Marc Batta (FRA)
UEFA Delegate: Nils Fisketjonn (NOR)
Blog Referee Observer: Harry (ENG)

20:45 CET - NSK Olympiyskiy, Kyiv, Ukraine
Dynamo Kyiv


Manchester City

Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Pau Cebrián Devís (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Roberto Díaz Pérez Del Palomar (ESP)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Jesús Gil Manzano (ESP)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Carlos Clos Gómez (ESP)
4th Official: Raúl Cabañero Martínez (ESP)
UEFA Referee Observer: Paul Allaerts (BEL)
UEFA Delegate: Christian Mutschler (SUI)
Blog Referee Observer: Howard M. (GER)

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February 21, 2016

Video Training: Illegal Use of Arms (PSG-CHE & BAY-DAR) - 2 Clips

During the last week, two situations where arms and specially elbows were used illegally by players caught my attention. As both referees unfortunately did not choose the adequate level of punishment, it might be important to brighten and sharpen your awareness for this type of infringement as well. 

Please watch the following clip.

Be reminded on the classification of illegally used arms:

1. 'Careless' means that the player has shown a lack of attention or consideration when making his challenge or that he acted without precaution. In the case of carelessly used arms in a duel, there is no further disciplinary sanction needed - a verbal warning might be given of course.

2. 'Reckless' means that the player has acted with complete disregard of the danger to, or consequences for, his opponent. He must be cautioned. Players, who deploy their arm or elbow as a tool, are considered to have acted in a reckless manner and must receive a yellow card.

3. 'Using excessive force' means that the player has far exceeded the necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring his opponent. In such a case, the player has to be sent off with a red card. Players, who deploy their arm or elbow as a weapon, are considered to have used excessive force and must be sent off with a red card.

In Situation 1, Eden Hazard (White #10) and Marco Verratti (Blue #6) both jump for an aerial duel for the ball with relatively equal chances to reach it (#10 is a bit higher though).
White #10 clearly carts out his left forearm and elbow, which are not in a natural position typical of a jump, and makes unfair contact with #6's head or facial area. He thus acts with complete disregard of the danger to and consequences for his opponent and uses his arm as a tool. Therefore, #10 must be cautioned with a yellow card.

Something noone wants to see: Illegally used arms often lead to injuries

In Situation 2, there are actually two elbow offences in a row: Rafinha (Red #13) tries to shield the ball which is high in the air. His opponent, Blue #14, fairly uses his body and physical advantage to get into a promising position to get the ball first. As kind of frustrated reaction, #13 first rams his right elbow into Blue #14's chest with relatively high force and a targeted lunging movement. This should or at least could already be deemed as excessive force clearly endangering the safety of the opponent. The action is visually blocked for the referee (maybe the first assistant referee could have spotted it, however it is not really close to him and not in his clear area of responsibility).
The second offence is visible for the referee though: #13 uses his right arm as a weapon, again making a clear hitting movement and using excessive force. #14 is hit in his face / head so that his safety is clearly endangered. #13 has to be sent off with a red card.

Both situations could have been anticipated better: In both cases, two players were fighting for a high ball going into an aeriel duel. In such cases, your alarming bells should ring and you should draw special attention to the players' arm movements and positions. 

More on this topic:
Referee Education: Illegal Use of Arms
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Champions League 2015/16 - Round of 16 (III): Martin Atkinson and Cüneyt Çakır to referee Tuesday's top clashes

Last season's UEFA club competition final referees Martin Atkinson and Cüneyt Çakır have been designated to take control over Tuesday's Champions League top clashes Juventus Turin v Bayern München and Arsenal FC v FC Barcelona respectively.

20:45 CET - Emirates Stadium, London, England
Arsenal FC
Arsenal FC
FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona

Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (TUR)
Assistant Referee 1: Bahattin Duran (TUR)
Assistant Referee 2: Tarik Ongun (TUR)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Hüseyin Göçek (TUR)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Barış Şimşek (TUR)
4th Official: Çem Satman (TUR)
UEFA Referee Observer: Peter Fröjdfeldt (SWE)
UEFA Delegate: Jim Stjerne Hansen (DEN)
Referee Liaison Officer: Alan Wiley (ENG)
Blog Referee Observer: Gi

20:45 CET - Juventus Stadium, Torino, Italy
Juventus Turin
FC Bayern München
Bayern München

Referee: Martin Atkinson (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Michael Mullarkey (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Stephen Child (ENG)
Additional Assistant Referee 1: Michael Oliver (ENG)
Additional Assistant Referee 2: Craig Pawson (ENG)
4th Official: Gary Beswick (ENG)
UEFA Referee Observer: Luis Medina Cantalejo (ESP)
UEFA Delegate: Roland Tis (BEL)
Referee Liaison Officer: Fabrizio Malacart (ITA)
Blog Referee Observer: Edward (GRE)

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February 20, 2016

Cüneyt Çakır and Ravshan Irmatov in charge of Olympic Games 2016 Play-Offs

Turkish Champions League 2015 final referee Cüneyt Çakır and Uzbekistan's Ravshan Irmatov - the referee with the highest number of World Cup matches ever - have been appointed by FIFA to take charge of the play-off matches between Colombia and the USA who will combat for the last tickets to Rio at the end of March. They will be observed by FIFA's Suisse connection (Massimo Busacca and Manuel Navarro respectively).

25.03.2016 - Barranquilla (COL)
Colombia - USA
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (TUR, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Orkun Aktaş (TUR)
Assistant Referee 2: Çem Satman (TUR)
Fourth Official: Hüseyin Göçek (TUR)
FIFA Referee Assessor: Massimo Busacca (SUI)

29.03.2016 - Frisco (USA)
USA - Colombia
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)
Assistant Referee 1: Abduxamidullo Rasulov (UZB)
Assistant Referee 2: Jakhongir Saidov (UZB)
Fourth Official: Sherzod Kasimov (UZB)
FIFA Referee Assessor: Manuel Navarro (SUI)
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February 16, 2016

Europa League 2015/16 - Round of 32 - Referee Appointments (I)

UEFA has designated the following match officials for Europa League's Round of 32 first legs. Among others, Italian Luca Banti will handle the clash between Borussia Dortmund and FC Porto.

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February 15, 2016

Champions League 2015/16 - Round of 16 (II): Pavel Královec in charge of AS Roma-Real Madrid - Svein Moen to officiate Gent-Wolfsburg

Czech Republican Pavel Královec will take charge of Wednesday's sonorous Champions League clash between AS Roma and Real Madrid in Stadio Olimpico. Along with his Slovakian-Czech teammates, he will be observed by Greek UEFA Referee Committee member Kyros Vassaras (who handled this match himself eight years ago). The other match of that evening - KAA Gent vs VfL Wolfsburg - will be officiated by Norway's Svein Oddvar Moen, who already met the German side in the group stage (at home against CSKA Moskva).

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February 14, 2016

Champions League 2015/16 - Round of 16 (I): Gianluca Rocchi to referee Benfica-Zenit - Carlos Velasco assigned for PSG-Chelsea

UEFA has appointed Italian Gianluca Rocchi and Carlos Velasco of Spain to kick-off this year's Champions League knockout-stage in Lisbon and Paris respectively.

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February 8, 2016

Youth League 2015/16 - Play-Offs for Round of 16 - Referee Appointments

UEFA has appointed the following officials  to handle 2015/16 UEFA Youth League Play-offs for Round of 16. 

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Referee Observers and Delegates for Champions and Europa League (16-25 Feb.)

UEFA has designated the Referee Observers and Delegates for both Champions League Round of 16 (First Leg) and Europa League's complete Round of 32. 

PDF: Observers & Delegates 16-25 Feb.

Do you dare to make some predictions?
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