UEFA Champions League 2020/2021 – Group Stage (Matchday 4)

24 November 2020
FC Krasnodar – Sevilla FC
Referee: Marco Guida (ITA, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Ciro Carbone (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Giorgio Peretti (ITA)
Fourth Official: Fabio Maresca (ITA)
VAR: Marco Di Bello (ITA)
AVAR: Maurizio Mariani (ITA)
Referee Observer: Levan Paniashvili (GEO)

Stade Rennais – Chelsea FC
Referee: Björn Kuipers (NED)
Assistant Referee 1: Sander van Roekel (NED)
Assistant Referee 2: Erwin Zeinstra (NED)
Fourth Official: Serdar Gözübüyük (NED)
VAR: Pol van Boekel (NED)
AVAR: Dennis Higler (NED)
Referee Observer: Miroslav Tulinger (CZE)

Lazio – Zenit
Referee: Michael Oliver (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Stuart Burt (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Simon Bennett (ENG)
Fourth Official: Andrew Madley (ENG)
VAR: Christopher Kavanagh (ENG)
AVAR: Craig Pawson (ENG)
Referee Observer: David Fernandez Borbalan (ESP)

Borussia Dortmund – Club Brugge
Referee: Ivan Kružliak (SVK)
Assistant Referee 1: Branislav Hancko (SVK)
Assistant Referee 2: Rui Tavares (POR)
Fourth Official: Peter Kralović (SVK)
VAR: Pawel Gil (POL)
AVAR: Bartosz Frankowski (POL)
Referee Observer: Jaap Uilenberg (NED)

Dynamo Kyiv – FC Barcelona
Referee: Matej Jug (SVN)
Assistant Referee 1: Matej Žunič (SVN)
Assistant Referee 2: Robert Vukan (SVN)
Fourth Official: Nejc Kajtazovič (SVN)
VAR: Sascha Stegemann (GER)
AVAR: Jure Praprotnik (SVN)
Referee Observer: Konrad Plautz (AUT)

Juventus – Ferencvarosi TC
Referee: Daniel Siebert (GER)
Assistant Referee 1: Jan Seidel (GER)
Assistant Referee 2: Rafael Foltyn (GER)
Fourth Official: Harm Osmers (GER)
VAR: Marco Fritz (GER)
AVAR: Mark Borsch (GER)
Referee Observer: Vladimir Antonov (MDA)

Paris Saint Germain – RB Leipzig
Referee: Danny Makkelie (NED)
Assistant Referee 1: Mario Diks (NED)
Assistant Referee 2: Hessel Steegstra (NED)
Fourth Official: Allard Lindhout (NED)
VAR: Kevin Blom (NED)
AVAR: Jochem Kamphuis (NED)
Referee Observer: Fritz Stuchlik (AUT)

Manchester United – Istanbul Başakşehir
Referee: Ovidiu Haţegan (ROU)
Assistant Referee 1: Octavian Șovre (ROU)
Assistant Referee 2: Sebastian Gheorghe (ROU)
Fourth Official: Marius Avram (ROU)
VAR: Joao Pinheiro (POR)
AVAR: Javier Estrada Fernandez (ESP)
Referee Observer: Juan Fernandez Marin (ESP)

25 November 2020
Borussia Mönchengladbach – Shakhtar Donetsk
Referee: Cüneyt Cakir (TUR)
Assistant Referee 1: Bahattin Duran (TUR)
Assistant Referee 2: Tarik Ongun (TUR)
Fourth Official: Halil Meler (TUR)
VAR: Abdulkadir Bitigen (TUR)
AVAR: Mete Kalkavan (TUR)
Referee Observer: Drago Kos (SVN)

Olympiacos FC – Manchester City
Referee: Davide Massa (ITA)
Assistant Referee 1: Filippo Meli (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Stefano Alassio (ITA)
Fourth Official: Paolo Valeri (ITA)
VAR: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
AVAR: Alberto Tegoni (ITA)
Referee Observer: Marc Batta (FRA)

Bayern München – FC Salzburg
Referee: Orel Grinfeld (ISR)
Assistant Referee 1: Roy Hassan (ISR)
Assistant Referee 2: Idan Yarkoni (ISR)
Fourth Official: Eitan Shmuelevitz (ISR)
VAR: Roi Reinshreiber (ISR)
AVAR: David Fuxman (ISR)
Referee Observer: Bertrand Layec (FRA)

Atletico de Madrid – Lokomotiv Moskva

Referee: Slavko Vinčić (SVN)
Assistant Referee 1: Tomaž Klančnik (SVN)
Assistant Referee 2: Andraž Kovačič (SVN)
Fourth Official: Rade Obrenovič (SVN)
VAR: Bastian Dankert (GER)
AVAR: Bibiana Steinhaus (GER)
Referee Observer: Vitor Melo Pereira (POR)

Internazionale Milano – Real Madrid
Referee: Anthony Taylor (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Gary Beswick (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Adam Nunn (ENG)
Fourth Official: David Coote (ENG)
VAR: Stuart Attwell (ENG)
AVAR: Lee Betts (ENG)
Referee Observer: Alain Hamer (LUX)

Olympique de Marseille – FC Porto
Referee: Andreas Ekberg (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Mehmet Culum (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Stefan Hallberg (SWE)
Fourth Official: Kristoffer Karlsson (SWE)
VAR: Juan Martinez Munuera (ESP)
AVAR: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoechea (ESP)
Referee Observer: Roberto Rosetti (ITA)

Liverpool FC – Atalanta BC
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Yuste Jimenez (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Roberto Alonso Fernandez (ESP)
Fourth Official: Jose Munuera Montero (ESP)
VAR: Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez (ESP)
AVAR: Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez (ESP)
Referee Observer: Ichko Lozev (BUL)

AFC Ajax – FC Midtjylland
Referee: Sergei Karasev (RUS)
Assistant Referee 1: Igor Demeshko (RUS)
Assistant Referee 2: Maksim Gavrilin (RUS)
Fourth Official: Kirill Levnikov (RUS)
VAR: Vitali Meshkov (RUS)
AVAR: Vladimir Moskalev (RUS)
Referee Observer: Elmir Pilav (BIH)

African referees pre-selected for FIFA Women's World Cup 2023

Of the 156 referees and assistant referees from all over the world who are candidates to officiate at FIFA Women's World Cup Australia/New Zealand 2023, 8 referees and 11 assistant referees are from CAF, coming from 15 member associations. The candidates will join the “Road to AUS/NZL” project, which will determine the best match officials to operate during the upcoming competition. 
Referees
Salima Mukansanga (RWA), Lidya Tafesse Abebe (ETH), Maria Rivet (MRI), Bouchra Karboubi (MAR), Ndidi Madu (NGA), Vincentia Amedome (TOG), Fatou Thioune (SEN), Dorsaf Ganouati (TUN)
Assistant Referees
Mary Njoroge (KEN), Lidwine Rakotozafinoro (MAD), Bernadettar Kwimbira (MWI), Queency Victoire (MRI), Diana Chikotesha (ZAM), Mimisen Iyorhe (NGA), Fatiha Jermoumi (MAR), Houda Afine (TUN), Fanta Kone (MLI), Carine Atezambong (CMR), Yara Atef (EGY)

Source: CAF

UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 – Qualifying Round (Matchday 15)

26-27 November 2020 

Georgia – Malta
Referee: Eszter Urban (HUN, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Katalin Török (HUN)
Assistant Referee 2: Anita Vad (HUN)
Fourth Official: Reka Molnar (HUN)

Slovakia – Iceland
Referee: Lina Lehtovaara (FIN)
Assistant Referee 1: Tonja Paavola (FIN)
Assistant Referee 2: Lotta Vuorio (FIN)
Fourth Official: Ifeoma Kulmala (FIN)

Kazakhstan – North Macedonia
Referee: Lucie Šulcova (CZE)
Assistant Referee 1: Nikol Šafrankova (CZE)
Assistant Referee 2: Zuzana Špindlerova (CZE)
Fourth Official: Jana Adamkova (CZE)

Albania – Cyprus
Referee: Jelena Cvetković (SRB)
Assistant Referee 1: Danijela Stojanović (SRB) 
Assistant Referee 2: Ivana Jovanovic (SRB)
Fourth Official: Milica Milovanovic (SRB)

Croatia – Lithuania
Referee: Rebecca Welch (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Sian Massey (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Emily Carney (ENG)
Fourth Official: Abigail Marriott (ENG)

Germany – Greece
Referee: Marta Frias Acedo (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Eliana Fernandez Gonzalez (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Elena Pardos Mainer (ESP)
Fourth Official: Zulema Gonzalez Gonzalez (ESP)

Estonia – Turkey
Referee: Volha Tsiareshka (BLR)
Assistant Referee 1: Natalia Ceban (MDA)
Assistant Referee 2: Anastasiya Danchenko (BLR)
Fourth Official: Alena Kanaplianikava (BLR)

Russia – Kosovo
Referee: Ewa Augustyn (POL)
Assistant Referee 1: Paulina Baranowska (POL)
Assistant Referee 2: Katarzyna Wasiak (POL)
Fourth Official: Katarzyna Lisiecka-Sek (POL)

Northern Ireland – Belarus
Referee: Silvia Domingos (POR)
Assistant Referee 1: Vanessa Dias (POR)
Assistant Referee 2: Ana Silva (POR)
Fourth Official: Tatiana Martins (POR)

Portugal – Scotland
Referee: Ivana Martinčić (CRO)
Assistant Referee 1: Sanja Rodjak-Karšić (CRO)
Assistant Referee 2: Maja Petravić (CRO)
Fourth Official: Jelena Kumer (CRO)

Spain – Moldova
Referee: Shona Shukrula (NED)
Assistant Referee 1: Franca Overtoom (NED)
Assistant Referee 2: Nicolet Bakker (NED)
Fourth Official: Lizzy Van Der Helm (NED)

France – Austria
Referee: Esther Staubli (SUI)
Assistant Referee 1: Chrysoula Kourompylia (GRE)
Assistant Referee 2: Susann Küng (SUI)
Fourth Official: Michele Schmölzer (SUI)

Handball controversy is sweeping football

Remember the penalty Tottenham Hotspur's Moussa Sissoko gave away in the 2019 Champions League final? Or Eric Dier conceding a spot kick even though the Spurs player had his back to the ball? What about Stade Rennes defender Dalbert being sent off for a second yellow card for handling the ball in the Champions League at Chelsea? ESPN has spoken to the head of referees in Germany plus high-profile ex-referees from each of Europe's top leagues, which have seen a plague of controversial handball penalties in recent seasons. Why do some leagues have many more penalties than others? Who is to blame? And what needs to happen to fix the problem?
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is leading the charge for change, proclaiming that "many unfair decisions are being made which have been met with growing frustration and discomfort by the football community." On Monday, November 23, the technical and football advisory panels of football's lawmakers, the IFAB (International Football Association Board), meet to discuss proposed law changes. This is the one and only chance for Ceferin's argument to be heard, for the matter to be debated by the referees and former players who matter, and where hope for a new handball interpretation for 2021-22 lies. The handball law was not changed for the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, though VAR has undoubtedly led to it being enforced to the absolute letter. In 2014, the IFAB created its advisory panels - featuring former players such as Luis Figo and Hidetoshi Nakata - to work on the development of the Laws of the Game. The IFAB wanted to "eliminate inconsistency in the judgement applied by officials" on handball. This search for consistency has removed common sense and rational interpretation -- much to the anger of players, coaches, former referees and supporters. This strict interpretation - which removed intent and judged the arm being in an "unnatural position" away from the body and blocking the path of the ball - was first implemented by FIFA at the 2018 World Cup (the first major international tournament to have VAR). It led to nine penalty kicks for handball in the 64 games, compared to just one in the 2014 edition. France were awarded a hugely controversial penalty in the final, given against Croatia's Ivan Perisic when the score was 1-1; France went on to win the game 4-2. In 2019 a "more precise and detailed wording for the different types of handball offences" was added to the Laws (p104). This was supposed to clear up all the confusion about what FIFA and the IFAB wanted, what was a handball and wasn't. But top-level former referees say it has just led to confusion, which leaves us where we are today. Two years on from the World Cup, and at the plea of Ceferin and many within football, the IFAB has been asked to reconsider. Ceferin wants a complete backtrack, for the old handball law to be reinstated to allow the referee to make his or her own judgement on intent. But ESPN sources have said that just because some leagues shout loudest does not mean the IFAB will recommend a significant law change.

Champions League
UEFA's chief refereeing officer is Roberto Rosetti, and he is also the chairman of the IFAB Referees' Committee and sits on the IFAB Technical Subcommittee, so it will come as no surprise that the handball law has been strictly applied in UEFA competitions. Before 2018, the frequency of handball penalties was around the same as in the top leagues, but after the World Cup the number of spot kicks doubled. This season, penalties have increased again dramatically. The first three matchdays have seen 11 handball penalties awarded in just 48 games, with the frequency nearly trebling from a spot kick every 12.13 games to 4.63. It's part of a remarkable glut of penalties for all offences, now averaging one every 1.33 games - the highest in the domestic leagues is 1.90 in the Premier League, which in itself has doubled from 2019-20. In the 2019 Champions League final, Sissoko was penalised in the very first minute when the ball accidentally hit his outstretched arm, and Liverpool went on to win the game 2-0. UEFA's referees were already officiating to the definition as used in the 2018 World Cup. "The big challenge is the position of the arm," Rosetti had told The Times earlier that year in warning that handball penalties were likely to rise. "When the arm is totally out of the body above the shoulder it should be penalised. If the defender is making the body bigger in order to block the ball it is not fair. If he is looking to block a cross or a shot on goal and the player is trying to spread his body then it is a handball." This season, Rennes conceded a penalty for handball against Dalbert, when they were trailing 1-0 at Chelsea. The controversy was doubled in this instance, as Dalbert was already on a yellow card. The ball deflected off Dalbert's foot onto his arm, but because Tammy Abraham's shot was on target it was a mandatory booking. Rennes were 2-0 down and left with 10 men. "The Rennes player was adjudged to have deliberately handled the ball and then sent off for a second yellow card," Halsey said of this incident. "That was absolutely scandalous, absolute nonsense. To be given as a handball and then be dismissed? It's madness, they are going to kill the game and drive fans away. OK, give the penalty but it's not a second yellow card." In his letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Ceferin made it abundantly clear he wants a rethink. But he will also need to persuade Pierluigi Collina, the chairman of the FIFA referees committee and on the same IFAB Technical Subcommittee as Rosetti. "The spirit of the game must be preserved at all times," Ceferin wrote. "I believe that going back to the previous wording, perhaps reviewed and integrated by a provision which does not allow goals to be scored with a hand/arm, is an option to be taken into account. There is no shame in admitting that sometimes decisions that are made for the good do not achieve their objectives and should be reviewed. The use of VAR in many competitions has simply exacerbated the problem and pushes referees and media to vivisection every situation, with paranoid effects and controversial outcomes."

Premier League
The Premier League had always operated with a more relaxed interpretation of handball, leaving it more to the judgement of the referee rather than trying to apply the law to the letter. In 2017-18 just six penalties were awarded, compared to 20 in Italy and 31 in Spain. The number rose in the Premier League after the 2018 World Cup to 14, then the introduction of VAR only caused the number to rise to 20 - the lowest across the top leagues last season. However, the Premier League's resistance to using the VAR protocol in full last season irked FIFA. So when world football's governing body took control of the VAR project this summer, the Premier League was told to toe the line. And that included adopting the handball law as the IFAB intended. Even though Mike Riley, the head of referees in the Premier League, had warned that there would be an increase in penalties, it proved to be a baptism of fire. In the first 28 games, six penalties were given for handball. Averaged across a season, that would lead to 81 spot kicks - 24 more than the 57 Serie A endured during its controversial 2019-20. The Premier League backtracked, agreeing to a more relaxed interpretation based on the expected position of the arm; the irony being that, despite the hullabaloo, Dier would still concede the penalty as his arm was above his shoulder - considered a mandatory penalty by the IFAB. Mark Halsey, who was a Premier League referee for 14 years and FIFA-listed for six, didn't hold back in his criticism. "We're confused of what's natural and what's unnatural," Halsey told ESPN. "That's where we're having a lot of problems and that deliberate act, or movement. The Premier League have talked about an expected position, well that word 'expected' is not in the laws of the game, so why have they brought that in? It's either a natural, or an unnatural position making the body bigger. Look at the Leicester City penalty against Wolves, and the Manchester City penalty against Liverpool; their arms are in a natural position, because they are running. You look at the penalty Dier conceded, and the Premier League say they still going to give that. He's got his back to the ball and you need your arms to elevate that lift. That is a natural position. If a player is jumping and acting as another goalkeeper, that's totally different. I remember, before I retired [in 2012], we sat in a room, all 18 professional referees. Seven or eight videos were shown for what should be deemed deliberate handball and what should not. We were astounded even then, and said 'we're not giving those.' All the referees were in agreement that we're not giving handballs of that nature, and at that time it was left to our discretion. People are telling me they can't watch it anymore and they are switching their TV off. They need to start listening to ex-referees, players and managers. It's not about the Laws of the Game, it's about knowing the game of football. We need to drastically go back to interpreting handling the ball as we always have done."

La Liga
Handball has been treated very differently in Spanish football, to the point that the ball hitting the hand usually led to a yellow card. Before the 2018 World Cup, La Liga's numbers were consistent: 20, 18 and 19 penalties awarded in the preceding three seasons. The introduction of VAR for 2018-19 saw decisions rise by 75%, with another spike last season to 48. It meant the combination of VAR and the law change had led to a 140% increase in handball penalties within two seasons. Eduardo Iturralde is Spain's most high profile former referee, having spent 17 years as a top-flight official and 15 years on FIFA's International Referees List before retiring in 2012. Iturralde has never been afraid to speak his mind after stepping away from the game, and that is no different when it comes to handball. "In Spain, we're going toward an indoor-football type sport where I believe all handballs are punishable," Iturralde told ESPN. "We should give more freedom to referees to interpret handballs. There hasn't been any change compared to last season. This 'natural or unnatural hand' thing looks good in a book but it depends how you're challenging for the ball and a lot of other things. We're heading towards all handballs being punishable. There's dialogue between the refereeing chiefs in Italy, Germany, Spain, England to all head in the same direction." Perhaps the most controversial incident came on the final day of last season, when Leganes were denied what looked to be a clear spot kick. With the score at 2-2, the ball clearly hit the outstretched arm of Madrid's Luka Jovic inside the area. A 3-2 win would have given Leganes the extra two points they needed to avoid relegation. "Leganes are in Segunda because of a handball that wasn't given that is always given," Iturralde said. "Jovic's handball in the Madrid game is a handball that's been given for years. If that isn't clear and obvious... If a handball's given and they score the penalty, Leganes would still be in the Primera. So the system is failing. The IFAB has changed 178 Laws," Iturralde added. "They want to check everything and take the responsibility away from referees. They have so many directives that they now don't know what's handball and what isn't. Handball is the most difficult thing to assess. It was in my time too, but before there weren't so many problems. Now with VAR and the criteria they've broken football's spirit. They have stopped referees from interpreting the laws. Not all handballs are the same, that's the big problem. VAR was brought in to deal with the obvious and now it's getting involved in actions which should be down to the referee. Fans can be confused, but the problem is that the players are confused, the coaches... that's the worst thing that can happen to a sport. It's been bad, not just for La Liga, but for football in general. I think referees would be more comfortable if they left them to interpret the law, if they didn't restrict them so much, and football would be better off."

Serie A
Serie A already faced the highest number of penalties before the 2018 World Cup. Thirty-one were given in the 2017-18 season, Italy's first season with VAR, which was over 50% more than La Liga and five times as many as the Premier League. After the World Cup, there was only a small rise, but after the Laws were amended in the summer of 2019 there was a 54% season-on-season increase. But this isn't only about handball, as 187 penalties were awarded in Serie A last season, 65 more than in 2018-19, with handball accounting for almost a third. It meant that roughly half of all games in the Italian top flight saw a penalty. "It's curious to see how the Italian and Spanish statistics are very similar, but distant to the Anglo-Saxon nations," Italy's referee designator, Nicola Rizzoli, said about the higher number of handball penalties in Italy and Spain compared to the other top leagues. "This denoted a substantial cultural influence in the Latin countries. There is a problem." Rizzoli was determined that Italy would not face the same situation this season, insisting "some penalties were too soft" and that "the objective is allowing defenders to play football without having their arms clamped to their side like penguins." He used the De Roon incident as a specific example of a handball which so no longer be given. His assertion that "not every contact equals a penalty" has got through. So far in 2020-21, only five penalties have been awarded for handball -- with the frequency more than halving from one every 6.67 games to 14.00. Luca Marelli is a former Serie A referee who now writes a blog on officiating and is a regular pundit on Italian radio and TV. "The principles governing what handballs are punishable and the interpretative guidelines have not changed," Marelli told ESPN. "The truth is that IFAB tried to harmonise language in the law that wasn't clear by using more granular and specific language, but, in so doing, they made a cardinal error: they failed to clearly explain that nothing would change in the concrete application of the law. Unfortunately, this change in language was treated like some kind of revolution, which it was never intended to be. That's precisely the problem we've had in Italy." Marelli is glad that, as of this season, referees are taking more responsibility for decisions rather than officiating in a matter-of-fact way. "Without question this year we'll see fewer handball penalties in Serie A and you're already noticing this in the first few match days," he added. "Referees have been given specific instructions. They've been told to be less severe in their judgement of touches in the box and VARs have been told to have fewer reviews for handball. VAR will only intervene in extreme cases, situations where arms and hands are well beyond the body's natural silhouette and in clearly unnatural positions. It's obvious though that the rise in penalties awarded for handball has a specific cause; without VAR these incidents remained 'invisible.'"

Bundesliga
Germany suffered the biggest "shock" when it implemented FIFA's new interpretation straight after the 2018 World Cup. Referees were applying a strict definition without having a written law. It led to penalties more than doubling from 15 in 2017-18 to 31 in 2018-19. When the definition was added to the Laws in 2019, it gave German officials a clear framework to apply the Law in an objective manner. Germany returned back to a level similar to that seen in 2017-18, with 18 awarded. Players in the Bundesliga had also learned from their own experience, defending crosses into the box with their arms behind their backs. However, penalties have been on the rise again this season with five given in the first seven matchdays. If that ratio is to continue, the Bundesliga would up to 24 by the end of this campaign. As in La Liga, the most controversial decision came when a penalty was not awarded. Borussia Dortmund hosted Bayern in a crucial Bundesliga title match in May. With Bayern leading 1-0, Jerome Boateng blocked Erling Haaland's shot with his arm and it caused outrage that neither the referee nor the VAR awarded the penalty. Germany's referee chief, Lutz-Michael Frohlich, told ESPN that this was a mistake. "It's important for the referees that there is more clarity," Frohlich said of the mixed messaging since 2018. "The Law changes in 2019 were regarded more positive, but 2018 was not that helpful. It was a major step forward last season." Frohlich explained how referees from the major leagues are in regular dialogue to try an ensure a level on continuity, though as Rizzoli had explained there can be cultural differences between leagues. Frohlich is not in favour of making changes for next season. "There is a regular exchange between the referees of the top five leagues," he added. "There is not a great difference between the assessment of the individual cases. Maybe our focus in Germany has been more on the change of rules in 2019, on the aspect of the absolute intention to play handball. What we now have is a remarkably simple definition of when it's handball or not. We have well-founded exceptions. But the handball rule will always remain part of the discussion. Football has become more complex and with it the laws. You can change the laws how you like, there will always be discussions. It's less a question of the law, but rather one of the zeitgeist."

Ligue 1
Ligue 1 has followed a similar trajectory to Germany. Both leagues had an average of a handball penalty every 20 games before the 2018 World Cup. It then rose to 11.18 in France and 9.87 in Germany. French referees appear to have hit the right note, though, as this season the frequency of handballs has fallen close to the levels pre-2018. Some of the harsher any penalties awarded in Spain, Italy and England wouldn't be given in France. But that doesn't mean there aren't still issues. Former Ligue 1 referee Bruno Derrien, who now works as a consultant for RMC Sport, told ESPN that it remains controversial even if fewer penalties are being given. Rather than there being a change in interpretation, it's player behaviour which has reduced the number of handballs. "It's the same here in France," Derrien said. "Now, we punish more defenders for handballs. It's considered to be an offence when the player can't move his arm out of the way. That's why you'll see defenders put their hands behind their backs so the ball doesn't touch their hand." Derrien said that he would support a revision to the handball law, to bring it closer to the old interpretation. "By wanting to help the referees to judge the intention of handball, we've just complicated matters," Derrien added. "We must return to the origins of the law for handballs where it's a deliberate action in the case of the hand going towards the ball. Not every single handball should be punished. VAR was put in the place to amend big mistakes but not to re-officiate instead of the match official. VAR should only intervene in handball situations similar to Diego Maradona or Thierry Henry. When the handball is completely intentional and the referee misses it, which happens and it's happened to me, then that's when VAR should help out. But when it's not so obvious and the referee has seen it, there's no reason to reverse the decision."

Source: ESPN

MLS Awards 2020: Elfath and Nesbitt

Ismail Elfath has been named the 2020 MLS Referee of the Year, and Kathryn Nesbitt is the 2020 Assistant Referee of the Year, becoming the first woman to receive this end of season award. Elfath took charge of 16 MLS games during this year’s regular season, as well as refereeing the MLS is Back Tournament Final – his 12th match in Orlando including his fourth official and VAR assignments. The FIFA official also centered the 150th MLS regular-season game of his career in Week 8, when Portland Timbers hosted Real Salt Lake. Elfath made his professional debut in NASL over 10 years ago and has previously received two MLS Referee of the Year nominations in 2013 and 2017. 
In August, Nesbitt was also on the MLS is Back final crew as an assistant referee, making history as the first female to ever officiate an MLS title game. In addition to her seven AVAR assignments, the FIFA assistant referee flagged 18 regular-season games in 2020, which is her highest MLS total having been assigned 15 times in both 2018 and 2019, after receiving her first professional assignment in NWSL seven years ago. 

Source: PRO

Spanish referee hit by ball not able to finish match

One of the images from the weekend was that of Sara Fernandez, the referee of the women’s match Real Madrid - Athletic Club. The referee was hit by the ball in the final moments of the game, which prevented her to the end the clash. The video became viral on Twitter and some have left macho insults and humiliating messages for the simple fact that she could not bear the blow. 
In one of the last attacks by Athletic Club in the match where they were desperately looking for a goal to equalize, Naroa Uriarte fired a powerful shot from outside the penalty area on the local goal defended by Misa Rodriguez. This launch would never reach the immediate vicinity of the goal, as the ball hit the referee sharply. She fell on the grass and had to be taken care of instantly. Sara did not lose consciousness, but she did show signs of severe headache from the trauma. In fact, while she was lying on the ground receiving medical assistance, screams of pain could be heard on the broadcast. In any case, Sara recovered and even left the field on her own feet, without being able to finish the match, but everyone was in a tremendous scare. Sandra Gonzalez had to jump onto the field to end the match. 

Source: El Espanol

CONMEBOL Libertadores 2020 – Round of 16 (First Leg)

24-26 November 2020
 
Liga de Quito – Santos
Referee: Fernando Rapallini (ARG, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Ezequiel Brailovsky (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Julio Fernandez (ARG)
Fourth Official: Nicolas Lamolina (ARG)
VAR: Mauro Vigliano (ARG)
AVAR: Fernando Espinoza (ARG)
VAR Observer: Omar Ponce (ECU)
Referee Assessor: Juan Albarracin (ECU)

Athletico Paranaense – River Plate
Referee: Andres Rojas (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Alexander Guzman (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Dionisio Ruiz (COL)
Fourth Official: Carlos Orbe (ECU)
VAR: Nicolas Gallo (COL)
AVAR: Carlos Herrera (COL)
VAR Observer: Emerson De Carvalho (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Regildenia Moura (BRA)

Racing – Flamengo
Referee: Alexis Herrera (VEN)
Assistant Referee 1: Jorge Urrego (VEN)
Assistant Referee 2: Lubin Torrealba (VEN)
Fourth Official: Orlando Bracamonte (VEN)
VAR: Jesus Valenzuela (VEN)
AVAR: John Ospina (COL)
VAR Observer: Hernan Maidana (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Angel Sanchez (ARG)

Delfín – Palmeiras
Referee: Leodan Gonzalez (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Nicolas Taran (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Richard Trinidad (URU)
Fourth Official: Nicolas Lamolina (ARG)
VAR: Esteban Ostojich (URU)
AVAR: Fernando Espinoza (ARG)
VAR Observer: Wilson Avila (ECU)
Referee Assessor: Juan Corozo (ECU)

Independiente Del Valle – Nacional
Referee: Raphael Claus (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Alessandro Rocha (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Rafael Alves (BRA)
Fourth Official: Fernando Rapallini (ARG)
VAR: Rafael Traci (BRA)
AVAR: Mauro Vigliano (ARG)
VAR Observer: Omar Ponce (ECU)
Referee Assessor: Jose Carpio (ECU)

Libertad – Jorge Wilstermann
Referee: Anderson Daronco (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Marcelo Van Gasse (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Rodrigo Correa (BRA)
Fourth Official: Guillermo Guerrero (ECU)
VAR: Rodolpho Toski (BRA)
AVAR: Juan Belatti (ARG)
VAR Observer: Carlos Torres (PAR)
Referee Assessor: Manuel Bernal (PAR)

Internacional – Boca Juniors
Referee: Roberto Tobar (CHI)
Assistant Referee 1: Alejandro Molina (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Raul Orellana (CHI)
Fourth Official: Nicolas Gallo (COL)
VAR: Julio Bascunan (CHI)
AVAR: Angelo Hermosilla (CHI)
VAR Observer: Roberto Perassi (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Paolo Conceicao (BRA)

Guarani – Gremio
Referee: Guillermo Guerrero (ECU)
Assistant Referee 1: Christian Lescano (ECU)
Assistant Referee 2: Byron Romero (ECU)
Fourth Official: Marlon Vera (ECU)
VAR: Daniel Fedorczuk (URU)
AVAR: Juan Belatti (ARG)
VAR Observer: Paulo Silva (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Oscar Viera (PAR)

CONMEBOL Sudamericana 2020 – Round of 16 (First Leg)

24-26 November 2020 

Bahia – Union
Referee: Kevin Ortega (PER, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Jonny Bossio (PER)
Assistant Referee 2: Michael Orue (PER)
Fourth Official: Joel Alarcon (PER)
VAR: Diego Haro (PER)
AVAR: Michael Espinoza (PER)
VAR Observer: Sergio Correa (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Manoel Serapiao (BRA)

Velez – Deportivo Cali
Referee: Cristian Garay (CHI)
Assistant Referee 1: Claudio Urrutia (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Edson Cisternas (CHI)
Fourth Official: Andres Matonte (URU)
VAR: Piero Maza (CHI)
AVAR: Eduardo Gamboa (CHI)
VAR Observer: Sergio Viola (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Sabrina Lois (ARG)

Bolivar – Lanus
Referee: Flavio De Souza (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Kleber Gil (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Bruno Boschilia (BRA)
Fourth Official: Augusto Aragon (ECU)
VAR: Braulio Machado (BRA)
AVAR: Juan Soto (VEN)
VAR Observer: Juan Lugones (BOL)
Referee Assessor: Oscar Maldonado (BOL)

Fenix – Independiente
Referee: Juan Benitez (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Roberto Canete (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Rodney Aquino (PAR)
Fourth Official: Mario Diaz de Vivar (PAR)
VAR: Derlis Lopez (PAR)
AVAR: Jose Mendez (PAR)
VAR Observer: Dario Ubriaco (URU)
Referee Assessor: Roberto Silvera (URU)

Coquimbo Unido – Sport Huancayo
Referee: Gery Vargas (BOL)
Assistant Referee 1: Jose Antelo (BOL)
Assistant Referee 2: Edward Saavedra (BOL)
Fourth Official: Raul Orosco (BOL)
VAR: Bruno Arleu (BRA)
AVAR: Ivo Mendez (BOL)
VAR Observer: Patricio Polic (CHI)
Referee Assessor: Barbra Bastias (CHI)

River Plate – Universidad Catolica
Referee: Jose Mendez (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Rodney Aquino (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Roberto Canete (PAR)
Fourth Official: Mario Diaz de Vivar (PAR)
VAR: Juan Benitez (PAR)
AVAR: Derlis Lopez (PAR)
VAR Observer: Dario Ubriaco (URU)
Referee Assessor: Juan Cardellino (URU)

Junior – Union La Calera
Referee: Facundo Tello (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Gabriel Chade (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Cristian Navarro (ARG)
Fourth Official: Jose Argote (VEN)
VAR: Patricio Loustau (ARG)
AVAR: Luis Quiroz (ECU)
VAR Observer: Wilson Lamouroux (COL)
Referee Assessor: Abraham Gonzalez (COL)

Defensa y Justicia – Vasco Da Gama
Referee: Andres Matonte (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Carlos Barreiro (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Martin Soppi (URU)
Fourth Official: Jesus Valenzuela (VEN)
VAR: John Ospina (COL)
AVAR: Piero Maza (CHI)
VAR Observer: Hernan Maidana (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Ricardo Casas (ARG)

AFC Champions League 2020 – Group Stage (East Region, Matchday 2)

18-22 November 2020 

Sydney FC – Shanghai SIPG 
Referee: Abdulrahman Al-Jassim (QAT, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Saoud Al-Maqaleh (QAT)
Assistant Referee 2: Ramzan Al-Naemi (QAT)
Fourth Official: Saoud Al-Adba (QAT)

Perth Glory – Shanghai Shenhua
Referee: Mohammed Abdulla (UAE)
Assistant Referee 1: Mohamed Al-Hammadi (UAE)
Assistant Referee 2: Hasan Al-Mahri (UAE)
Fourth Official: Ammar Al-Jneibi (UAE)

FC Seoul – Beijing FC
Referee: Turki Al Khudayr (KSA)
Assistant Referee 1: Mohammed Al Abakry (KSA)
Assistant Referee 2: Khalaf Al Shammari (KSA)
Fourth Official: Ali Al Qaysi (IRQ)

Ulsan FC – Shanghai Shenhua
Referee: Khamis Al-Marri (QAT)
Assistant Referee 1: Yousef Al-Shamari (QAT)
Assistant Referee 2: Zahy Al-Shammari (QAT)
Fourth Official: Abdulrahman Al-Jassim (QAT)

Suwon Bluewings – Guangzhou Evergrande
Referee: Christopher Beath (AUS)
Assistant Referee 1: Anton Shchetinin (AUS)
Assistant Referee 2: Ashley Beecham (AUS)
Fourth Official: Muhammad Bin Jahari (SIN)

Jeonbuk Motors – Shanghai SIPG
Referee: Ammar Al-Jneibi (UAE)
Assistant Referee 1: Mohamed Al-Hammadi (UAE)
Assistant Referee 2: Hasan Al-Mahri (UAE)
Fourth Official: Mohammed Abdulla (UAE)

VAR "light" concept taking shape

The FIFA Working Group for Innovation Excellence met on 27 October to coordinate the next steps in the development of VAR technology. Meeting for the fourth time, 13 competition organisers, who are experienced with the use of VAR technology, used a videoconference to discuss the latest developments. 
One key topic was the development of the VAR “light” concept, which aims to create more affordable VAR systems to enable the use of VAR at all levels of the game. The working group identified variable cost factors, talked about the potential quality decrease and the minimum requirements for such a technology setup. In addition, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the French Football Federation (FFF) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) provided the working group with their findings from offline tests with more cost-efficient VAR technology. Based on the discussions and the results of research and testing, a recommendation on the next steps to implement the VAR “light” concept in the world of football will now be presented within FIFA and IFAB. 
The agenda also covered the development of semi-automated offside technology to make the review process for offside incidents as efficient as possible. After initial demonstrations of the capabilities of this new technology, three technology providers are interested in the next development phase, which had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic but should take place as early as possible next year. The aim of this development phase is to further improve the algorithms of the systems based on a collection of datasets from hundreds of different offside incidents. In addition, the working group considered the improvement of the visualisation of close offside incidents. FIFA had issued a request for information to the market and shared the received proposals and ideas with the working group. As a next step, interested technology providers will receive anonymised datasets, based on which they should present possible solutions to the working group. The Working Group for Innovation Excellence embodies the commitment to stay ahead of the curve in a technology sector that is rapidly evolving and part of FIFA’s innovation road map to 2022. 

Source: FIFA