Clattenburg leaves English Premier League for Saudi Arabia

England’s leading referee is swapping the Premier League for Saudi Arabia where he will replace Howard Webb as the head of refereeing. Unlike Webb, though, Clattenburg, who refereed the Euro 2016 final, is also expected to officiate at matches throughout the kingdom. The 41-year-old was announced at a slightly stilted press conference in Jeddah on Thursday when the County Durham-born Clattenburg reaffirmed his love for Newcastle United before pronouncing himself on an “educational” mission to improve and “professionalise” refereeing standards throughout Saudi Arabia. Premier League sources acknowledged he may have taken charge of his final game in England but refused to entirely rule out the possibility of his officiating in this country again – possibly even this season.
Identified as a high flyer right from his early days as an 18-year-old assistant referee in the Northern League, Clattenburg reportedly grew disillusioned by the level of public support officials are offered by Professional Game match officials Ltd. With Clattenburg’s relationship with Mike Riley, the referee’s overlord, apparently tense, he began listening to offers from the Middle East, China and the United States. It now seems Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Hull last Saturday may have been the final domestic act of a Newcastle-based FIFA official whose talent has enabled him to surmount setbacks that might have floored some peers.
In 2008-2009 Clattenburg served an eight-month suspension while PGMOL investigated his business dealings. He was swiftly and emphatically cleared of any wrongdoing. In 2012 Chelsea complained he had used inappropriate language towards Mikel Jon Obi. His career trajectory seemed serenely in the ascendant until a reprimand from Riley in 2014. This involved breaches of protocol when he drove to Tyneside to see an Ed Sheeran concert after refereeing a Crystal Palace v West Bromwich game and speaking to the then Palace manager Neil Warnock on the phone after the game.
Very much a man of his time, Clattenburg resisted the convention that referees should be models of discretion and happily displayed the tattoos of the European Cup and European Championship trophies he acquired after taking charge of both finals last summer. 
PGMOL was unstinting in its praise for Clattenburg during an amicable parting of the ways, with no bridges apparently burned. “Mark set standards for others to follow,” it said in a statement. “Mark has been a great asset to the English game and hopefully an inspiration to those who want to get into refereeing at the grassroots of the game. We understand this is an exciting opportunity for Mark”.
Clattenburg, meanwhile, was introducing himself to a new public. “My name is Mark Clattenburg”, he told Saudi journalists, before outlining plans. “I’m from a city called Newcastle. Anybody who knows England well, knows we have the best team in the country. I was recently voted the best referee in the world [at Dubai’s Globe Soccer Awards in December], therefore I bring a wealth of knowledge and a passion for improving refereeing and education here in Saudi Arabia. “I’m very humbled by this exciting opportunity to support and educate referees, to use my expertise in refereeing some matches and bring referees from other countries around the world to improve the standard here”.

Source: The Guardian

FIFA Seminar for prospective World Cup 2018 referees in Italy

FIFA has recently chosen the Italian Technical Centre of Coverciano as the host for the upcoming seminar for referees in the running for the World Cup 2018. The seminar, scheduled from 3 to 7 April, will include fitness tests, as well as theoretical and practical analysis in preparation for the World Cup that will take place in a little over a year in Russia.
At 27 years after the last international referee seminar hosted by Italy (Tirrenia in 1990), FIFA wanted to use again the organization and the facilities of Coverciano. Under the direction of the new chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, Pierluigi Collina, and the Head of the Referee Department, Massimo Busacca, the seminar will also provide training on Video Assistant Referees (VAR), taking into consideration FIFA’s intention to apply the technology at the Russian World Cup in 2018. The seminar will be attended by 53 referees from all confederations: AFC (7), CAF (7), CONCACAF (7), CONMEBOL (10), OFC (2), UEFA (20). Italy will be represented by Daniele Orsato and Gianluca Rocchi (photo). 

Source: FIGC

UEFA Europa League – Round of 32 (First Leg)

16 February 2017

KAA Gent – Tottenham Hotspur
Referee: Benoît Bastien (FRA, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Hicham Zakrani (FRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Frédéric Haquette (FRA)
Additional AR 1: Benoît Millot (FRA)
Additional AR 2: Jérôme Miguelgorry (FRA)
Fourth Official: Julien Pacelli (FRA)
Referee Observer: Peter Mikkelsen (DEN)

Astra Giurgiu – KRC Genk

Referee: Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Kim Haglund (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Magnus Lundberg (NOR)
Additional AR 1: Svein Erik Edvartsen (NOR)
Additional AR 2: Tore Hansen (NOR)
Fourth Official: Jan Erik Engan (NOR)
Referee Observer: Nikolai Levnikov (RUS)

FC Krasnodar – Fenerbahçe

Referee: Ivan Kružliak (SVK)
Assistant Referee 1: Martin Balko (SVK)
Assistant Referee 2: Tomaš Somoláni (SVK)
Additional AR 1: Peter Kralović (SVK)
Additional AR 2: Mario Vlk (SVK)
Fourth Official: Tomaš Mokoš (SVK)
Referee Observer: Robert Sedlacek (AUT)

AZ Alkmaar – Olympique Lyonnais
Referee: Robert Madden (SCO)
Assistant Referee 1: Alastair Mather (SCO)
Assistant Referee 2: Stuart Stevenson (SCO)
Additional AR 1: Andrew Dallas (SCO)
Additional AR 2: Donald Robertson (SCO)
Fourth Official: Graeme Stewart (SCO)
Referee Observer: Elmir Pilav (BIH)

Celta de Vigo – Shakhtar Donetsk
Referee: Gediminas Mažeika (LTU)
Assistant Referee 1: Vyautas Šimkus (LTU)
Assistant Referee 2: Vytenis Kazlauskas (LTU)
Additional AR 1: Donatas Rumšas (LTU)
Additional AR 2: Jurij Paskovskij (LTU)
Fourth Official: Dovydas Sužiedėlis (LTU)
Referee Observer: Matteo Trefoloni (ITA)

PFK Ludogorets – FC København
Referee: Ivan Bebek (CRO)
Assistant Referee 1: Tomislav Petrović (CRO)
Assistant Referee 2: Miro Grgić (CRO)
Additional AR 1: Ante Vučemilović-Šimunović (CRO)
Additional AR 2: Goran Gabrilo (CRO)
Fourth Official: Goran Pataki (CRO)
Referee Observer: Miroslav Tulinger (CZE)

Olympiacos – Osmanlıspor
Referee: Ruddy Buquet (FRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Cyril Gringore (FRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Frédéric Cano (FRA)
Additional AR 1: Nicolas Rainville (FRA)
Additional AR 2: Amaury Delerue (FRA)
Fourth Official: Eric Danizan (FRA)
Referee Observer: Uno Tutk (EST)

Borussia Mönchengladbach – Fiorentina
Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Ángel Nevado Rodríguez (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Yuste Jiménez (ESP)
Additional AR 1: Carlos Del Cerro Grande (ESP)
Additional AR 2: José Sánchez Martínez (ESP)
Fourth Official: Javier Aguilar Rodríguez (ESP)
Referee Observer: Ilkka Koho (FIN)

FC Rostov – Sparta Praha
Referee: Bas Nijhuis (NED)
Assistant Referee 1: Rob van de Ven (NED)
Assistant Referee 2: Charles Schaap (NED)
Additional AR 1: Serdar Gözübüyük (NED)
Additional AR 2: Dennis Higler (NED)
Fourth Official: Bas van Dongen (NED)
Referee Observer: Levan Paniashvili (GEO)

Hapoel Beer Sheva – Beşiktaş
Referee: Martin Atkinson (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Stephen Child (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Stuart Burt (ENG)
Additional AR 1: Craig Pawson (ENG)
Additional AR 2: Kevin Friend (ENG)
Fourth Official: Adam Nunn (ENG)
Referee Observer: Miroslav Vitković CRO)

CF Villarreal – AS Roma
Referee: Danny Makkelie (NED)
Assistant Referee 1: Mario Diks (NED)
Assistant Referee 2: Hessel Steegstra (NED)
Additional AR 1: Kevin Blom (NED)
Additional AR 2: Jochem Kamphuis (NED)
Fourth Official: Jan de Vries (NED)
Referee Observer: Murat Ilgaz (TUR)

Manchester United – AS Saint Étienne
Referee: Pavel Královec (CZE)
Assistant Referee 1: Roman Slyško (SVK)
Assistant Referee 2: Ivo Nádvorník (CZE)
Additional AR 1: Petr Ardeleánu (CZE)
Additional AR 2: Karel Hrubeš (CZE)
Fourth Official: Tomáš Mokrusch (CZE)
Referee Observer: Michel Piraux (BEL)

PAOK – Schalke
Referee: Javier Estrada Fernández (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Miguel Martínez Munuera (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Teodoro Sobrino Magán (ESP)
Additional AR 1: Alejandro Hernández Hernández (ESP)
Additional AR 2: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea (ESP)
Fourth Official: Pau Cebrián Devís (ESP)
Referee Observer: Kristinn Jakobsson (ISL)

Legia Warszawa – Ajax
Referee: David Fernández Borbalán (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Raúl Cabañero Martínez (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Roberto Alonso Fernández (ESP)
Additional AR 1: Carlos Clos Gómez (ESP)
Additional AR 2: Juan Martínez Munuera (ESP)
Fourth Official: Diego Barbero Sevilla (ESP)
Referee Observer: Kaj Østergaard (DEN)

RSC Anderlecht – FC Zenit
Referee: Michael Oliver (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Jake Collin (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Simon Bennett (ENG)
Additional AR 1: Andre Marriner (ENG)
Additional AR 2: Robert Madley (ENG)
Fourth Official: Ian Hussin (ENG)
Referee Observer: Alain Hamer (LUX)

Athletic Club – Apoel Nicosia
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Mathias Klasenius (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Wärnmark (SWE)
Additional AR 1: Stefan Johannesson (SWE)
Additional AR 2: Markus Strömbergsson (SWE)
Fourth Official: Mehmet Culum (SWE)
Referee Observer: Sándor Piller (HUN)

Copa Libertadores – Round 3 (First Leg)

15 February 2017
Atletico Paranaense – Deportivo Capiata
Referee: Daniel Fedorczuk (URU, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Mauricio Espinosa (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Richard Trinidad (URU)
Fourth Official: Oscar Rojas (URU)
Referee Assessor: Ednilson Corona (BRA)

Botafogo – Olimpia
Referee: Roddy Zambrano (ECU)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Macías (ECU)
Assistant Referee 2: Luis Vera (ECU)
Fourth Official: Luis Quiroz (ECU)
Referee Assessor: Nilson Moncao (BRA)

16 February 2017
Junior – Atletico Tucuman
Referee: Sandro Ricci (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Emerson De Carvalho (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Marcelo Van Gasse (BRA)
Fourth Official: Luiz De Oliveira (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Wilson Berrio (COL)

Union Espanola – The Strongest

Referee: Wilmar Roldan (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Diaz (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Humberto Clavijo (COL)
Fourth Official: Andres Rojas (COL)
Referee Assessor: Claudio Puga (CHI)

UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 (First Leg, I)

14 February 2017
Paris SG – FC Barcelona
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (POL, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Pawel Sokolnicki (POL)
Assistant Referee 2: Tomasz Listkiewicz (POL)
Additional AR 1: Pawel Raczkowski (POL)
Additional AR 2: Tomasz Musial (POL)
Fourth Official: Radoslaw Siejka (POL)
Referee Observer: Herbert Fandel (GER)

SL Benfica – Borussia Dortmund
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)
Assistant Referee 1: Elenito Di Liberatore (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Riccardo Di Fiore (ITA)
Additional AR 1: Luca Banti (ITA)
Additional AR 2: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
Fourth Official: Mauro Tonolini (ITA) 
Referee Observer: Jean Lemmer (LUX)

15 February 2017
Real Madrid – SSC Napoli
Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN)
Assistant Referee 1: Jure Praprotnik (SVN)
Assistant Referee 2: Robert Vukan (SVN)
Additional AR 1: Matej Jug (SVN)
Additional AR 2: Slavko Vinčič (SVN)
Fourth Official: Tomaž Klančnik (SVN)
Referee Observer: Jaap Uilenberg (NED)

Bayern München – Arsenal
Referee: Milorad Mažić (SRB)
Assistant Referee 1: Milovan Ristić (SRB)
Assistant Referee 2: Dalibor Djurdjević (SRB)
Additional AR 1: Danilo Grujić (SRB)
Additional AR 2: Nenad Djokić (SRB)
Fourth Official: Nemanja Petrović (SRB)
Referee Observer: Roberto Rosettti (ITA)

Brych too expensive for Egypt

The Egyptian Football Federation (EFA) have announced the three candidates to referee the Egyptian Super Cup between Al Ahly and Zamalek in Abu-Dhabi.
The head of the referees committee, Essam Abdel-Fattah, has revealed that German referee Felix Brych (photo) will not officiate the Egyptian Super Cup match due to his high financial demands which was refused by the EFA. “The German referee has asked for flight tickets which cost around 400,000 EGP (21,000 euro) and the EFA has declined his request”, Abdel-Fattah told Youth and Sports radio channel. “We are now choosing between three names, Pavel Královec from Czech Republic, Damir Skomina from Slovenia and Milorad Mažić from Serbia, after receiving the acceptance of their federations. We do not prefer Emirati referees to officiate the game. We understand the strong relations between Egypt and UAE, but it may put pressure on the referees. However, we may refer the game to the Emirati officials if we fail to reach an agreement with these three referees”, he explained the situation. After negotiations with the candidates, the Egyptian referees committee settled on Královec, according to a statement that the EFA released on their official Facebook page. The Cairo giants Al Ahly and Zamalek are set to challenge for the Egyptian Super Cup at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday, 10 February 2017.

Source: Kingfut

Webb hired as PRO Manager of VAR Operations

Retired FIFA referee Howard Webb will be joining the Professional Referee Organization as Manager of Video Assistant Referee Operations. Beginning in March, Webb will oversee the development and education, assessment and assignment of Video Assistant Referees (VARs) for the PRO. During approximately 30 pre-season matches, MLS will continue live, in-game VAR testing with the goal of implementing live, in-game VAR review during MLS regular season matches in the second half of the 2017 season.
Webb retired from an illustrious 25-year career after officiating more than 500 English Premier League and Football League games, overseeing UEFA Champions League games and serving as a referee for UEFA European Championship matches and during two FIFA World Cups. Webb remains the only referee to officiate both a UEFA Champions League final and FIFA World Cup Final in the same year (2010). Following his retirement, Webb served for a short time as the Technical Director of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), which develops referee standards and match officials for all English competitions. From 2015 until recently, he was the Director of Referees for the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, where he had a 3-year contract that earned him $300,000 annually. Webb has also been a member of the BT Sport broadcast team for UEFA Champions League, utilizing video replay systems to analyze tactical situations and referee decisions in real-time on the air. “I am delighted to join the Professional Referee Organization for this new challenge and contribute to the implementation of what I view as a crucial development for the sport”, Webb said. Howard Webb will be a great asset to PRO in spearheading the VAR project”, PRO General Manager Peter Walton said. “His high-level officiating experience and work as a broadcaster will bring tremendous value as he guides our referees through various VAR testing and assessment exercises ahead of forthcoming VAR implementation”.
A combined 15 of the 22 MLS clubs will gain exposure to live in-game video review during preseason competition, including matches in the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic, 2017 Desert Friendlies, FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup, Portland Timbers Preseason Tournament, and Carolina Challenge Cup. In addition to the in-game tests during pre-season, offline testing, with no impact on the game, will take place at MLS stadiums during MLS regular season matches from March through August. MLS will look to incorporate video review into MLS matches following the 2017 MLS All-Star Game in August.

Source: PRO / Arbitrage57

Rizzoli gives up on World Cup 2018

The last image with Nicola Rizzoli at a World Cup will remain the final whistle of the 2014 final won by Germany against Argentina at the Maracana in Brazil. The Italian referee, who was among those pre-selected by FIFA for the next World Cup, has decided to give up on Russia 2018. The news was revealed by the AIA president Marcello Nicchi. Rizzoli wrote in his letter: "Everything has a beginning and certainly everything has an end. I think it is fair to leave the same opportunity to other referees. The time to take a step back is always important and complicated. But I believe that, once the decision is made, it is right to live the feelings completely and fully, as I always have. Therefore, after sharing my decision to give up the path that could lead to Russia in 2018, I think it's time for thanks. I will never be able to personally thank all the people, small or large, who contributed to personal achievements of an unforgettable international career. Successes, as I have always said, are part of an important group - the Italian referees. For this reason, the main thanks go to AIA. Today, I maintain the enthusiasm of a kid and the experience of a man and mature referee. As always, I will cheer and will support with all my skills the referee who will have the honour of representing the AIA at the World Cup in Russia".
Rizzoli will leave room for another Italian referee at next year’s World Cup, but he will continue to referee in Serie A. The favourite to represent Italy in Russia becomes Gianluca Rocchi. The AIA president Nicchi had previously been informed of Rizzoli’s intention and, after receiving the letter, he decided to make it public to emphasize his high quality as a person and referee. "Nicola Rizzoli is a model for many young referees, which I hope will follow the passion and professionalism that he has always shown on the field", said the Italian federation president, Carlo Tavecchio, about Rizzoli’s decision to give up his participation in the selection for the World Cup in Russia in 2018. "Rizzoli, he added, has confirmed, in an incredible career, the talent and quality of Italian referees Italian, representing our country in the final of a World Cup and helping to write some of the most important pages in the history of Italian football within the last few years". The AIA president, Marcello Nicchi, thanked Rizzoli. "This initiative reflects the high qualities, known by the whole Association, the FIGC and the international organizations, of Rizzoli, as a person and a referee, a true sportsman who always worked and will continue to do so for the growth of our Association and refereeing culture".

Source: AIA/Mediaset

Copa Libertadores – Round 2 (Second Leg)

7 February 2017
Cartagena Junior – Carabobo
Referee: Enrique Caceres (PAR, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Cardozo (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Rodney Aquino (PAR)
Fourth Official: Jose Mendez (PAR)
Referee Assessor: Jose Buitrago (COL)

Union Espanola – Atletico Cerro

Referee: Sandro Ricci (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Emerson Carvalho (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Marcelo Van Gasse (BRA)
Fourth Official: Dewson Freitas (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Enrique Osses (CHI)

El Nacional – Atletico Tucuman
Referee: Andres Cunha (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Nicolas Taran (URU) 

Assistant Referee 2: Miguel Nievas (URU)
Fourth Official: Leodan Gonzalez (URU)
Referee Assessor: Otalvaro Polanco (COL)

8 February 2017
Millonarios – Atletico Paranaense
Referee: Julio Bascunan (CHI)
Assistant Referee 1: Christian Schiemann (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Carlos Astroza (CHI)
Fourth Official: Carlos Ulloa (CHI)
Referee Assessor: Candelario Andarcia (VEN)

Colo Colo – Botafogo
Referee: Patricio Loustau (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Ezequiel Brailovsky (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Ivan Nunez (ARG)
Fourth Official: Silvio Trucco (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Cesar Escano (PER)

9 February 2017
The Strongest – Wanderers
Referee: Roddy Zambrano (ECU)
Assistant Referee 1: Byron Romero (ECU)
Assistant Referee 2: Christian Lescano (ECU)
Fourth Official: Juan Albarracin (ECU)
Referee Assessor: Francisco Mondria (CHI)

Olimpia – Independiente del Valle
Referee: Wilmar Roldan (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Alexander Guzman (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Cristian De la Cruz (COL)
Fourth Official: Andres Rojas (COL)
Referee Assessor: Ubaldo Aquino (PAR)

Universitario – Deportivo Capiata
Referee: Jose Argote (VEN)
Assistant Referee 1: Carlos Lopez (VEN)
Assistant Referee 2: Luis Sanchez (VEN)
Fourth Official: Adrian Cabello (VEN)
Referee Assessor: Jorge Jaimes (PER)

UEFA women referees raising the bar

Europe's women referees are meeting the standards required by the rapid development of women's football – and in UEFA Women's Euro year, have been showing their quality at the latest UEFA winter course in Spain. Elite female match officials have been joined by newcomers to the FIFA international list for four days of training, practical work and feedback sessions with UEFA's Referees Committee. The quality of their contribution to the courses in Spain reflects the flourishing calibre of the women's game on this continent.
UEFA decided to invite female referees to join their male counterparts on its courses in 2013, and the move has proved judicious in terms of helping the former raise their overall standards and fitness. "They have certainly reacted positively to what is needed today," said UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina. "Women's football is played faster than before, and the quality of play is definitely higher than before, so the referees today are also better athletes than before. We are very happy about this. Also, their ability to read a match is getting higher and higher. So they are coping with the increased level of women's football."
The Referees Committee will soon be selecting the teams of officials who will take charge of the 31 matches at seven venues in the Netherlands from 16 July to 6 August, in the first Women's Euro to feature 16 sides. The referees will attend a Euro preparatory workshop in Zeist (Netherlands) in May. "I think this course has been a special one, because of this year's EURO," said UEFA Referees Committee member and former international referee Dagmar Damková. "It was one of the last opportunities for the referees to show if they are ready." The women officials' fitness training involved sprints and the yo-yo intermittent test, and UEFA was delighted at a 100% pass rate. "I'm proud of them," added Damková. The guidance of UEFA referee fitness expert Werner Helsen and his team has been crucial in this positive fitness factor. He explained the specific aspects that differentiate women's fitness from that of their male counterparts.
"One of the biggest differences concerns speed, explosiveness and acceleration – sprint work, let's say," Helsen reflected. "In many disciplines, in particular endurance sports, the differences between men and women have narrowed over the past few decades. However, there remains one big difference, which is speed, and speed equals strength. This means that women referees who would like to improve their sprints need to do strength training, and this has been a primary objective for many women referees." Swedish elite referee Sara Persson has lived through the major development of women's football and referees' fitness. "The tempo and physical performance in football have increased a lot," she said, "so it's very important for the referees to have top fitness too, so you can keep up. "You must be as well-trained as the players," she added. "With a good fitness level, you also become a better referee."

Source: UEFA