A new era: Refereeing and VAR

A few days after Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana signalled the final whistle, FIFA looks back extremely satisfied with how the referees performed at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ and how the historic implementation of Video Assistant Referees (VARs) contributed to the resounding success of refereeing at the tournament. “We said we wanted this to be the best World Cup ever and it’s been the best World Cup ever. A crucial role in this achievement was played by the referees who excelled with performances of the highest standard," said FIFA President Gianni Infantino. Following the fundamental decision to use VARs at the World Cup, FIFA is extremely happy with the overwhelming acceptance of VAR by players, coaches, fans and the media. 
FIFA’s Deputy Secretary General (Football), Zvonimir Boban, who oversaw the entire VAR project, underlined the importance of the revolutionary use of video technology to football. “As said by the FIFA President, VAR is not changing football, it is cleaning football, and this was our overriding aim when we started the VAR project together with The IFAB. The extensive preparation, both before and during the tournament, coordinated and guided by the chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee Pierluigi Collina and FIFA’s Director of Refereeing, Massimo Busacca, has produced outstanding results and I am proud to have been part of this team.” The implementation of VAR represented a huge talking point during the World Cup, generating fantastic debate about football and its rules. “It is great that there has been such widespread discussion, but only fully understanding the Laws of the Game and VAR procedures gives credibility to these discussions," added Boban. Building on the success of refereeing and the use of VAR at the World Cup, FIFA will continue its efforts to improve and develop overall standards of refereeing and assist all member associations and leagues wishing to implement VAR in their competitions. 

Source: FIFA

UEFA U-19 Euro 2018 – Group Stage (Matchday 2)

19 July 2018
Finland – Norway
Referee: Jonathan Lardot (BEL, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Bojan Zobenica (CRO)
Assistant Referee 2: Bryngeir Valdimarsson (ISL)
Fourth Official: Sandro Schärer (SUI)
Referee Observer: Bo Karlsson (SWE)

Portugal – Italy
Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (POL)
Assistant Referee 1: Ian Bird (WAL)
Assistant Referee 2: Joakim Nilsson (SWE)
Fourth Official: Andrew Dallas (SCO)
Referee Observer: Karen Nalbandyan (ARM)

20 July 2018
Ukraine – England
Referee: Manuel Schüttengruber (AUT)
Assistant Referee 1: Aron Härsing (EST)
Assistant Referee 2: Uroš Stojković (SRB)
Fourth Official: Petri Viljanen (FIN)
Referee Observer: Jouni Hyytiä (FIN)

Turkey – France
Referee: Juan Martinez Munuera (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Alexandru Cerei (ROU)
Assistant Referee 2: Damir Lazić (BIH)
Fourth Official: Ville Nevalainen (FIN)
Referee Observer: Nikolai Levnikov (RUS)

AIA: "Irrati saved the World Cup"

The president of the Italian Referees Association (AIA) praises Massimiliano Irrati, the head of the VAR team appointed to the World Cup final: "He helped Pitana make the right decision; I do not know what would have happened without that penalty kick". And he consoles Rocchi: "He was up there, but after Rizzoli four years ago..."
There was no Gianluca Rocchi to referee the final, to whom the Argentinian Pitana was preferred, but the Italian referees nevertheless made a decisive contribution during France - Croatia. Merit of Massimiliano Irrati, head of the VAR team designated for the conclusive act of the World Cup. For Marcello Nicchi, president of the Italian Referees Association, "Irrati saved the World Cup, he was the creator of a fundamental decision". The head of the Italian referees refers to the decision taken on the occasion of the penalty kick awarded to France in the first half, when Perisic touched the ball with his hand in the penalty area. Pitana first awarded a corner kick, then followed the indication of colleagues at the VAR, looked at the images and awarded the penalty kick. "Without that penalty kick to France I do not know what would have happened", underlines Nicchi at Radio Anch'io Sport of Radio1. Then he commented the exclusion of Rocchi: "For us, Rocchi was in the final, but FIFA will have made their evaluations and I would say that he did well. Rocchi did perfectly what he had to do, I felt it daily. He expected a little more, but he is very satisfied, one might say that in the end one was worth the other perhaps, but it is not so, we must respect the political operations, the various components and the various federations. Since another Italian, Rizzoli, refereed the last final, it was predictable that it could happen not to hit the target. To Rocchi cannot be attributed anything, I would have seen him well in place of Pitana". And he adds: "Our referees are the most sought-after in the world, we have an association that never reached this level".
The debate has already started on the possibility of establishing a single central "VAR room" also in Serie A, following the example of the World Cup. A hypothesis that, at least for the moment, does not seem to convince Nicchi: "It depends on the strategic and economic possibilities of the League. The last year we worked very well in the VAR room at the stadium: if they want to experiment with other systems is fine, but leave the certain for the uncertain". But Italy remains at the forefront: "We have reached these levels because the referees are a more important component than ever, for example without us there would never have been the VAR".

UEFA Europa League – First Qualifying Round (Second Leg)

17-19 July 2018

FC Shkupi – Rangers
Referee: Halil Umut Meler (TUR, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Kerem Ersoy (TUR)
Assistant Referee 2: İbrahim Uyarcan (TUR)
Fourth Official: Koray Gençerler (TUR)
Referee Observer: Martin Ingvarsson (SWE)

Levski Sofia – FC Vaduz
Referee: Robert Harvey (IRL)
Assistant Referee 1: Robert Clarke (IRL)
Assistant Referee 2: Wayne McDonnell (IRL)
Fourth Official: Raymond Matthews (IRL)
Referee Observer: Jan Wegereef (NED)

Budapest Honvéd – FK Rabotnički
Referee: Marius Avram (ROU)
Assistant Referee 1: Mircea Orbuleț (ROU)
Assistant Referee 2: Vladimir Urzică (ROU)
Fourth Official: Iulian Călin (ROU)
Referee Observer: David Malcolm (NIR)

FK Željezničar – Narva Trans
Referee: George Găman (ROU)
Assistant Referee 1: Mircea Grigoriu (ROU)
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Mitruți (ROU)
Fourth Official: Sebastian Colțescu (ROU)
Referee Observer: Vencel Tóth (HUN)

Tobol Kostanay – FC Samtredia
Referee: Tihomir Pejin (CRO)
Assistant Referee 1: Goran Pataki (CRO)
Assistant Referee 2: Marjan Tomas (CRO)
Fourth Official: Zdenko Lovrić (CRO)
Referee Observer: László Vágner (HUN)

Kairat Almaty – UE Engordany
Referee: Jovan Kaludjerović (MNE)
Assistant Referee 1: Danijel Dević (MNE)
Assistant Referee 2: Vladan Todorović (MNE)
Fourth Official: Predrag Radovanović (MNE)
Referee Observer: Jiří Ulrich (CZE)

Irtysh Pavlodar – FK Trakai
Referee: Luca Barbeno (SMR)
Assistant Referee 1: Francesco Lunardon (SMR)
Assistant Referee 2: Salvatore Tuttifrutti (SMR)
Fourth Official: Raffaele Delvecchio (SMR)
Referee Observer: Kostadin Gerginov (BUL)

FC Viitorul - Union Lëtzebuerg
Referee: Aleksandr Aliyev (KAZ)
Assistant Referee 1: Aleksandr Pavlov (KAZ)
Assistant Referee 2: Yuriy Tikhonyuk (KAZ)
Fourth Official: Artyom Kuchin (KAZ)
Referee Observer: Sabri Çelik (TUR)

Dinamo Minsk – Derry City
Referee: Jens Maae (DEN)
Assistant Referee 1: Heine Sørensen (DEN)
Assistant Referee 2: Victor Skytte (DEN)
Fourth Official: Morten Krogh (DEN)
Referee Observer: Pavel Saliy (KAZ)

KF Laçi – Anorthosis Famagusta
Referee: Donatas Rumšas (LTU)
Assistant Referee 1: Dovydas Sužiedėlis (LTU)
Assistant Referee 2: Arūnas Šeškus (LTU)
Fourth Official: Robertas Valikonis (LTU)
Referee Observer: Yuri Baskakov (RUS)

Gandzasar Kapan – Lech Poznań
Referee: Mohammed Al-Hakim (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Mehmet Culum (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Stefan Hallberg (SWE)
Fourth Official: Bojan Pandzic (SWE)
Referee Observer: Michális Koukoulákis (GRE)

Nõmme Kalju – Stjarnan
Referee: Giorgi Kruashvili (GEO)
Assistant Referee 1: Levan Varamishvili (GEO)
Assistant Referee 2: Zaza Pipia (GEO)
Fourth Official: Davit Kharitonashvili (GEO)
Referee Observer: Zoran Petrović (SRB)

Slavia Sofia – Ilves Tampere
Referee: Nenad Djokić (SRB)
Assistant Referee 1: Nemanja Petrović (SRB)
Assistant Referee 2: Dejan Petrović (SRB)
Fourth Official: Igor Stojiljković (SRB)
Referee Observer: Haim Jakov (ISR

Molde FK – Glenavon FC
Referee: Alexandru Tean (MDA)
Assistant Referee 1: Anatolie Bodean (MDA)
Assistant Referee 2: Victor Mardari (MDA)
Fourth Official: Piotr Stoianov (MDA)
Referee Observer: Luc Wilmes (LUX)

Gżira United – Radnički Niš
Referee: Suren Baliyan (ARM)
Assistant Referee 1: Erik Arevshatyan (ARM)
Assistant Referee 2: Vanik Simonyan (ARM)
Fourth Official: Artak Simonyan (ARM)
Referee Observer: Gylfi Thór Orrason (ISL)

Riga FC – CSKA Sofia
Referee: Furkat Atazhanov (KAZ)
Assistant Referee 1: Yevgeniy Belskiy (KAZ)
Assistant Referee 2: Aydyn Tasybayev (KAZ)
Fourth Official: Arman Ismuratov (KAZ)
Referee Observer: Aleksandr Gvardis (RUS)

Slovan Bratislava – Milsami Orhei
Referee: Nejc Kajtazovič (SVN)
Assistant Referee 1: Matej Žunič (SVN)
Assistant Referee 2: Manuel Vidali (SVN)
Fourth Official: Mitja Žganec (SVN)
Referee Observer: Petteri Kari (FIN)

Žalgiris Vilnius – KÍ Klaksvík
Referee: Milovan Milačić (MNE)
Assistant Referee 1: Milutin Djukić (MNE)
Assistant Referee 2: Veselin Radunović (MNE)
Fourth Official: Miloš Savović (MNE)
Referee Observer: Asim Xudiyev (AZE)

FC Prishtina – Fola Esch
Referee: Urs Schnyder (SUI)
Assistant Referee 1: Jan Köbeli (SUI)
Assistant Referee 2: Efe Kurnazca (SUI)
Fourth Official: Alain Bieri (SUI)
Referee Observer: Peter Fröjdfeldt (SWE)

Dinamo Tbilisi – Dunajská Streda
Referee: Dimitar Mečkarovski (MKD)
Assistant Referee 1: Dejan Nedelkoski (MKD)
Assistant Referee 2: Goce Petreski (MKD)
Fourth Official: Dejan Jakimovski (MKD)
Referee Observer: Vasyl Melnychuk (UKR)

Apollon Limassol – FC Stumbras
Referee: Eldorjan Hamiti (ALB)
Assistant Referee 1: Ridiger Çokaj (ALB)
Assistant Referee 2: Egin Doda (ALB)
Fourth Official: Kreshnik Cjapi (ALB)
Referee Observer: Kevin Azzopardi (MLT)

Zaria Bălți – Górnik Zabrze
Referee: Rəhim Hasanov (AZE)
Assistant Referee 1: Yaşar Abbasov (AZE)
Assistant Referee 2: Akif Amirali (AZE)
Fourth Official: Rauf Cabbarov (AZE)
Referee Observer: Ioánnis Tsachilídis (GRE)

FK Vardar – FC Pyunik
Referee: Ian McNabb (NIR)
Assistant Referee 1: Stephen Bell (NIR)
Assistant Referee 2: Ryan Kelsey (NIR)
Fourth Official: Thomas Clarke (NIR)
Referee Observer: Rusmir Mrković (BIH)

AIK – Shamrock Rovers
Referee: Nicolas Laforge (BEL)
Assistant Referee 1: Laurent Conotte (BEL)
Assistant Referee 2: Karel De Rocker (BEL)
Fourth Official: Wim Smet (BEL)
Referee Observer: Andrejs Sipailo (LVA)

Shakhtyor Soligorsk – Nomads FC
Referee: Admir Šehović (BIH)
Assistant Referee 1: Sreten Udovičić (BIH)
Assistant Referee 2: Amer Macić (BIH)
Fourth Official: Zoran Grbić (BIH)
Referee Observer: Salustià Ciprés (AND)

Maccabi Tel Aviv – Ferencvárosi TC
Referee: Hugo Miguel (POR)
Assistant Referee 1: Ricardo Ferreira (POR)
Assistant Referee 2: Bruno Miguel (POR)
Fourth Official: Hélder Azevedo (POR)
Referee Observer: Vladimir Antonov (MDA)

Keşla FK – Balzan FC
Referee: Mikhail Vilkov (RUS)
Assistant Referee 1: Aleksey Vorontsov (RUS)
Assistant Referee 2: Vladimir Minevich (RUS)
Fourth Official: Aleksey Sukhoy (RUS)
Referee Observer: Stephen Lodge (ENG)

Sarpsborg FF – ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar
Referee: Genc Nuza (KVX)
Assistant Referee 1: Fatlum Berisha (KVX)
Assistant Referee 2: Bujar Selimaj (KVX)
Fourth Official: Visar Kastrati (KVX)
Referee Observer: Leif Sundell (SWE)

BK Häcken – FK Liepāja
Referee: Sergey Ivanov (RUS)
Assistant Referee 1: Valeri Danchenko (RUS)
Assistant Referee 2: Dmitri Bereznev (RUS)
Fourth Official: Yevgeni Turbin (RUS)
Referee Observer: Igor Șațkii (MDA)

Progrès Niederkorn – Qabala İK
Referee: Keith Kennedy (NIR)
Assistant Referee 1: Stephen Donaldson (NIR)
Assistant Referee 2: Kristian Francis Hanna (NIR)
Fourth Official: Evan Boyce (NIR)
Referee Observer: Milan Karadžić (SRB)

FC Nordsjaelland – Cliftonville FC
Referee: Eitan Shmuelevitz (ISR)
Assistant Referee 1: Sagy Metzamber (ISR)
Assistant Referee 2: Avraham Goldstain (ISR)
Fourth Official: Idan Leiba (ISR)
Referee Observer: Helmut Fleischer (GER)

Beitar Jerusalem – Chikhura Sachkhere 

Referee: Marco Di Bello (ITA)
Assistant Referee 1: Matteo Passeri (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Rodolfo Di Vuolo (ITA)
Fourth Official: Rosario Abisso (ITA)
Referee Observer: Manuel López Fernández (ESP)

KS Luftëtari – FK Ventspils
Referee: Anders Poulsen (DEN)
Assistant Referee 1: Jesper Dahl (DEN)
Assistant Referee 2: Henrik Sønderby (DEN)
Fourth Official: Peter Munch Larsen (DEN)
Referee Observer: Patrick Kelly (IRL)

FC København – KuPS Kuopio
Referee: Vilhjálmur Thórarinsson (ISL)
Assistant Referee 1: Gylfi Sigurðsson (ISL)
Assistant Referee 2: Gunnar Gudmundsson (ISL)
Fourth Official: Thóroddur Hjaltalín (ISL)
Referee Observer: Iain Robertson Brines (SCO)

NK Maribor – FK Partizani
Referee: Paul Tierney (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Constantine Hatzidakis (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Adrian Holmes (ENG)
Fourth Official: Lee Mason (ENG)
Referee Observer: Kóstas Kapitanís (CYP)

FK Sarajevo – FC Banants
Referee: Lionel Tschudi (SUI)
Assistant Referee 1: Stéphane De Almeida (SUI)
Assistant Referee 2: Raffael Zeder (SUI)
Fourth Official: Fedayi San (SUI)
Referee Observer: Kjell Alseth (NOR)

AS Trenčín – Budućnost Podgorica
Referee: Sergey Lapochkin (RUS)
Assistant Referee 1: Aleksey Lebedev (RUS)
Assistant Referee 2: Aleksandr Kudryavtsev (RUS)
Fourth Official: Vitali Meshkov (RUS)
Referee Observer: Emil Božinovski (MKD)

OFK Titograd – B36 Tórshavn
Referee: Ömar Paşayev (AZE)
Assistant Referee 1: Namiq Hüseynov (AZE)
Assistant Referee 2: Mübariz Haşımov (AZE)
Fourth Official: Aliyar Ağayev (AZE)
Referee Observer: Patrițiu Abrudan (ROU)

FK Partizan – Rudar Pljevlja
Referee: Daniele Doveri (ITA)
Assistant Referee 1: Alessandro Giallatini (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Alfonso Marrazzo (ITA)
Fourth Official: Fabrizio Pasqua (ITA)
Referee Observer: Zbigniew Przesmycki (POL)

Coleraine FC – Spartak Subotica
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann (MLT)
Assistant Referee 1: Alan Camilleri (MLT)
Assistant Referee 2: Christopher Francalanza (MLT)
Fourth Official: Stefan Pace (MLT)
Referee Observer: Ján Fašung (SVK)

NK Osijek – Petroclub Sărata Galbenă
Referee: Dimítris Masiás (CYP)
Assistant Referee 1: Ioánnis Lazárou (CYP)
Assistant Referee 2: Mários Kalogírou (CYP)
Fourth Official: Loúkas Sotiríou (CYP)
Referee Observer: Plarent Kotherja (ALB)

NSÍ Runavík – Hibernian FC
Referee: Luís Teixeira (AND)
Assistant Referee 1: Manuel Fernandes (AND)
Assistant Referee 2: Hugo Pereira (AND)
Fourth Official: Joan Serra (AND)
Referee Observer: Nicolae Grigorescu (ROU)

SP Tre Fiori – Rudar Velenje
Referee: Fyodor Zammit (MLT)
Assistant Referee 1: Duncan Sultana (MLT)
Assistant Referee 2: William Debattista (MLT)
Fourth Official: Emanuel Grech (MLT)
Referee Observer: Dušan Krchňák (SVK)

Dundalk FC – Levadia Tallinn
Referee: Adrien Jaccottet (SUI)
Assistant Referee 1: Vital Jobin (SUI)
Assistant Referee 2: Jonas Erni (SUI)
Fourth Official: Pascal Erlachner (SUI)
Referee Observer: António Almeida (POR)

NK Domžale – Široki Brijeg
Referee: Antti Munukka (FIN)
Assistant Referee 1: Jonas Turunen (FIN)
Assistant Referee 2: Jukka Honkanen (FIN)
Fourth Official: Mohammed Al-Emara (FIN)
Referee Observer: Geórgios Bíkas (GRE)

Újpest FC – Neftçi PFK
Referee: Anastásios Papapétrou (GRE)
Assistant Referee 1: Trýfon Petrópoulos (GRE)
Assistant Referee 2: Vasílios Kamboúris (GRE)
Fourth Official: Ángelos Evangélou (GRE)
Referee Observer: Bernardino González Vázquez (ESP)

Hafnarfjördur – FC Lahti
Referee: Espen Eskås (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Øystein Ytterland (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Isaak Bashevkin (NOR)
Fourth Official: Rohit Saggi (NOR)
Referee Observer: Hans Reijgwart (NED)

UEFA Champions League – First Qualifying Round (Second Leg)

17-18 July 2018

Celtic – Alashkert
Referee: Horațiu Feșnic (ROU, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Mihai Artene (ROU)
Assistant Referee 2: Valentin Avram (ROU)
Fourth Official: Andrei Chivulete (ROU)
Referee Observer: Jaap Uilenberg (NED)

HJK Helsinki – Víkingur
Referee: Duje Strukan (CRO)
Assistant Referee 1: Goran Perica (CRO)
Assistant Referee 2: Mario Pepur (CRO)
Fourth Official: Goran Gabrilo (CRO)
Referee Observer: Gevorg Hovhannisyan (ARM)

Apoel – Sūduva
Referee: Glenn Nyberg (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Magnus Sjöblom (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Fredrik Klyver (SWE)
Fourth Official: Magnus Lindgren (SWE)
Referee Observer: Draženko Kovačić (CRO)

Malmö FF – KF Drita
Referee: Laurent Kopriwa (LUX)
Assistant Referee 1: Claude Ries (LUX)
Assistant Referee 2: Gilles Becker (LUX)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Morais (LUX)
Referee Observer: Uno Tutk (EST)

Hapoel Beer Sheva – Flora Tallinn
Referee: Tomasz Musiał (POL)
Assistant Referee 1: Radosław Siejka (POL)
Assistant Referee 2: Sebastian Mucha (POL)
Fourth Official: Tomasz Kwiatkowski (POL)
Referee Observer: Miroslav Vitković (CRO)

The New Saints – KF Shkëndija
Referee: Pavel Orel (CZE)
Assistant Referee 1: Petr Blažej (CZE)
Assistant Referee 2: Petr Caletka (CZE)
Fourth Official: Ondřej Lerch (CZE)
Referee Observer: Drago Kos (SVN)

Valletta FC – FK Kukësi
Referee: Igor Pajač (CRO)
Assistant Referee 1: Ivica Modrić (CRO)
Assistant Referee 2: Vedran Djurak (CRO)
Fourth Official: Fran Jović (CRO)
Referee Observer: Shmuel Shteif (ISR)

Videoton FC – F91 Dudelange
Referee: Donald Robertson (SCO)
Assistant Referee 1: Francis Connor (SCO)
Assistant Referee 2: Stuart Stevenson (SCO)
Fourth Official: Barry Cook (SCO)
Referee Observer: Robert Małek (POL)

Crvena Zvezda – Spartaks Jūrmala
Referee: Alper Ulusoy (TUR)
Assistant Referee 1: Ekrem Kan (TUR)
Assistant Referee 2: Ali Ögel (TUR)
Fourth Official: Arda Kardeşler (TUR)
Referee Observer: Sergey Zuyev (RUS)

Crusaders – Ludogorets
Referee: Roomer Tarajev (EST)
Assistant Referee 1: Sten Klaasen (EST)
Assistant Referee 2: Veiko Mõtsnik (EST)
Fourth Official: Siim Rinken (EST)
Referee Observer: Ilkka Koho (FIN)

Legia Warszawa – Cork City
Referee: Kai Erik Steen (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Jan Erik Engan (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Tom Harald Grønevik (NOR)
Fourth Official: Kristoffer Hagenes (NOR)
Referee Observer: Goran Mihaljević (MNE)

FC Sheriff – Torpedo Kutaisi
Referee: Peter Andersen (DEN)
Assistant Referee 1: Niels Brixen (DEN)
Assistant Referee 2: Dennis Rasmussen (DEN)
Fourth Official: Jørgen Daugbjerg (DEN)
Referee Observer: Rune Pedersen (NOR)

Qarabağ FK – Olimpija Ljubljana
Referee: Erez Papir (ISR)
Assistant Referee 1: David Bitton (ISR)
Assistant Referee 2: Eliyahu Casapu (ISR)
Fourth Official: David Fuxman (ISR)
Referee Observer: Sokol Jareci (ALB)

HŠK Zrinjski – Spartak Trnava
Referee: Julian Weinberger (AUT)
Assistant Referee 1: Maximilian Kolbitsch (AUT)
Assistant Referee 2: Andreas Heidenreich (AUT)
Fourth Official: Markus Hameter (AUT)
Referee Observer: Frank De Bleeckere (BEL)

Rosenborg BK – Valur Reykjavík
Referee: Stefan Apostolov (BUL)
Assistant Referee 1: Veselin Dobriyanov (BUL)
Assistant Referee 2: Petar Dzhuganski (BUL)
Fourth Official: Ivaylo Stoyanov (BUL)
Referee Observer: Robert Sedlacek (AUT)

FK Sutjeska – FC Astana
Referee: João Pinheiro (POR)
Assistant Referee 1: Rui Tavares (POR)
Assistant Referee 2: Bruno Rodrigues (POR)
Fourth Official: Vítor Ferreira (POR)
Referee Observer: Marián Ružbarský (SVK)

CONMEBOL Copa Sudamericana – Second Round (First Leg)

17-19 July 2018

Sol de América – Nacional
Referee: Anderson Daronco (BRA, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Bruno Boschilia (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Fabricio Vilarinho (BRA)
Fourth Official: Wagner Magalhaes (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Francisco Mondria (CHI)

Caracas – Sport Huancayo
Referee: Ivo Méndez (BOL)
Assistant Referee 1: José Antelo (BOL)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Montaño (BOL)
Fourth Official: Luis Yrusta (BOL)
Referee Assessor: José Buitrago (COL)

Lanús – Junior
Referee: Arnaldo Samaniego (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Milciades Saldívar (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Roberto Cañete (PAR)
Fourth Official: Julio Quintana (PAR)
Referee Assessor: Darío Ubriaco (URU)

Defensa y Justicia – El Nacional
Referee: Piero Maza (CHI)
Assistant Referee 1: Raúl Orellana (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Alejandro Molina (CHI)
Fourth Official: César Deischler (CHI)
Referee Assessor: Roberto Perassi (BRA)

Deportivo Cali – Bolívar
Referee: Fernando Espinoza (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Gustavo Rossi (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Maximiliano Del Yesso (ARG)
Fourth Official: Jorge Baliño (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Carlos Torres (PAR)

Deportivo Cuenca – Jorge Wilstermann
Referee: Esteban Ostojich (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Richard Trinidad (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Gabriel Popovits (URU)
Fourth Official: Gustavo Tejera (URU)
Referee Assessor: Candelario Andarcia (VEN)

Rampla Juniors – Independiente Santa Fe
Referee: Carlos Orbe (ECU)
Assistant Referee 1: Edwin Bravo (ECU)
Assistant Referee 2: Flavio Nall (ECU)
Fourth Official: Guillermo Guerrero (ECU)
Referee Assessor: Saul Laverni (ARG)

24-26 July 2018

Junior – Lanus
Referee: Wilton Sampaio (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Kleber Gil (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Alessandro Rocha (BRA)
Fourth Official: Luis Oliveira (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Carlos Herrera (ECU)

Sport Huancayo – Caracas
Referee: Nicolás Gallo (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Díaz (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: John León (COL)
Fourth Official: Carlos Herrera (COL)
Referee Assessor: Paulo Silva (ARG)

Bahía – Atletico Cerro
Referee: Michael Espinoza (PER)
Assistant Referee 1: Coty Carrera (PER)
Assistant Referee 2: Jesús Sánchez (PER)
Fourth Official: Joel Alarcón (PER)
Referee Assessor: Ubaldo Aquino (PAR)

LDU de Quito – Vasco Da Gama
Referee: Juan Soto (VEN)
Assistant Referee 1: Elbis Gómez (VEN)
Assistant Referee 2: Lubin Torrealba (VEN)
Fourth Official: Jesús Valenzuela (VEN)
Referee Assessor: Jorge Jaimes (PER)

Boston River – Banfield
Referee: Andres Rojas (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Wilmar Navarro (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Dionisio Ruiz (COL)
Fourth Official: Gustavo Murillo (COL)
Referee Assessor: Sergio Cristiano (BRA)

Atletico Paranaense – Peñarol
Referee: Fernando Rapallini (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Gabriel Chade (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Lucas Germanotta (ARG)
Fourth Official: Fernando Echenique (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Juan Lugones (BOL)

General Díaz – Millonarios
Referee: Gery Vargas (BOL)
Assistant Referee 1: Edwar Saavedra (BOL)
Assistant Referee 2: Reluy Vallejos (BOL)
Fourth Official: Juan García (BOL)
Referee Assessor: Rodolfo Otero (ARG)

San Lorenzo – Deportes Temuco
Referee: Rodolpho Toski (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Rodrigo Correa (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Guilherme Camilo (BRA)
Fourth Official: Wagner Reway (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Alberto Tejada (PER)

UEFA U-19 Euro 2018 – Group Stage (Matchday 1)

16 July 2018
Finland – Italy
Referee: Juan Martinez Munuera (ESP, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Uroš Stojković (SRB)
Assistant Referee 2: Aron Härsing (EST)
Fourth Official: Bartosz Frankowski (POL)
Referee Observer: Karen Nalbandyan (ARM)

Norway – Portugal
Referee: Manuel Schüttengruber (AUT)
Assistant Referee 1: Damir Lazić (BIH)
Assistant Referee 2: Bojan Zobenica (CRO)
Fourth Official: Ville Nevalainen (FIN)
Referee Observer: Bo Karlsson (SWE)

17 July 2018
Turkey – England
Referee: Sandro Schärer (SUI)
Assistant Referee 1: Bryngeir Valdimarsson (ISL)
Assistant Referee 2: Alexandru Cerei (ROU)
Fourth Official: Petri Viljanen (FIN)
Referee Observer: Nikolai Levnikov (RUS)

France – Ukraine
Referee: Andrew Dallas (SCO)
Assistant Referee 1: Joakim Nilsson (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Ian Bird (WAL)
Fourth Official: Jonathan Lardot (BEL)
Referee Observer: Jouni Hyytia (FIN)

World Cup referee Faghani harassed over handshake

According to IranWire, the Iranian referee for the World Cup third place play-off between England and Belgium has threatened to leave Iran forever. Alireza Faghani made his comments following a scandal that emerged after he shook hands with a female colleague on Wednesday, July 11, during the England-Croatia game in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. Soon after, photographs of the handshake were posted and shared on social media. The Islamic Republic of Iran bans unrelated members of opposite sex from touching each other.
Faghani initially took a conciliatory tone when responding to the controversy. “Such behavior in cyberspace is only natural,” he said. “This lady is a colleague of mine and is also married to one of my closest referee friends. I am sorry for those who are looking for a scandal in such a situation.” But the controversy intensified. Just a day before he was to be a FIFA referee in the July 14 play-off, Iranian Football Federation security officials demanded an explanation. Faghani’s comments became more adamant and angry. “I don’t understand this,” he said. “I have known her since 2013 and I am close to both her and her spouse [Fernanda Colomba and Sandro Ricci]. When we met she congratulated me for my matches. If they want to create problems because of this, I tell you right now: I will leave… I will take my wife and my family and go.”
Alireza Faghani, who has been a FIFA referee since 2008, has a long and distinguished record as an international referee - from the 2014 Asian Champions League Final and the 2015 Asian Cup Final to the 2015 Club World Cup Final, the final match in the 2016 Summer Olympics, the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the third-place match in the 2018 World Cup.
Faghani's distinguished career helps bring prestige to Iranian football. But now he has threatened to abandon his home country, all because he shook hands with a female colleague in front of the cameras.

Source: IranWire

Pitana's path from film extra to World Cup final referee

Argentine Nestor Pitana’s roundabout route to becoming a World Cup final referee has taken in work as a film extra and as a security guard at a disco as well as a spell playing basketball at regional level. 
The 43-year-old from the small sub-tropical province of Misiones will become the second referee after compatriot Horacio Elizondo to officiate at both the opening match and final after being picked for Sunday’s match between France and Croatia. At 1.92 meters tall, Pitana is a physically imposing figure who, having learned his trade in the cut-and-thrust world of Argentine domestic football, does not take to being bullied by angry players. “Pitana is as strong as a rock,” Pierluigi Collina, the head of FIFA’s referees committee, told Argentine media at the start of the tournament. “He won’t allow himself to be taken in by the players’ protests and demands.” 
According to the statistics on website Transfermarkt, Pitana has refereed 347 professional games, shown 1,658 yellow cards and 108 red cards and awarded 81 penalties since his debut in 2007. Like any referee, he has not avoided being caught up in controversy. In a league match in April, he failed to see the Estudiantes goalkeeper had been unable to keep the ball in play while trying to prevent a corner and seconds later awarded Chacarita a penalty. “If I had been playing, the match probably would not have finished,” said furious Estudiantes president Juan Veron after his side’s 2-0 defeat. Pitana is also remembered for his part in a Superclasico derby in 2014 when River Plate scored a late winner from a corner that Boca Juniors claimed should not have been given. 
Having played basketball and football at regional level, Pitana took up refereeing and also studied physical education. He also took on odd jobs which included a minor acting role as a prison guard in the 1997 Argentine film “La Furia” as well as working as a lifeguard and a security guard at a disco. He made his refereeing debut in the top flight of Argentine football in 2007, became an international referee three years later and officiated at four matches at the last World Cup in Brazil. “For any kid who loves football, the dream is to get to the World Cup final,” he told FIFA’s website. “This team have worked so hard to get where we are, we’ve managed one of the greatest achievements in the world of refereeing. And now we want to finish the job, in the best way possible”. 

Source: Reuters

Webb reflects on heated 2010 final

While the world dissected Howard Webb, the English referee was conversing with his assistants. “I remember saying to my assistants over the radio, ‘This is not going as planned. This is not what we expected,” Webb told the Toronto Sun prior to this World Cup. 
It has been eight years since Webb took charge of a World Cup final that, like Sunday, also featured a pair of UEFA sides at Soccer City, Johannesburg. “I got lucky when Spain won,” Webb said. “We were three minutes away from kicks from the penalty mark to decide the game.” Webb admits he was, perhaps, three minutes from having his career alter course. However, he doesn’t shy away from addressing one of the most controversial incidents in World Cup history. At issue, of course, was Webb’s decision to caution Dutch hard man Nigel de Jong when he should have been sent off for karate kicking Spain’s Xabi Alonso midway through the first half. “The serious foul play challenge by Nigel de Jong (became) insignificant,” Webb responded. But while Webb’s decision didn’t impact the outcome, the former Premier League disciplinarian says it still impacts him. “I get reminded of it quite often,” he added. “If the Netherlands would have won that game, my career would have taken a different direction, for sure. So I got lucky.” 
Webb is one of just 20 referees to take charge of the biggest game on the planet. He’s among the elite group of officials who can recount the hours leading up to becoming the most-watched person in the world. “Looking back now - eight years later - it’s almost like looking back on someone else,” Webb said. “To think how you sleep the night before that game knowing what’s at stake… The sport is so huge globally,” he added. “It’s just such a significant thing to do.” He was “feeling pretty confident” as his team attended Soccer City the night before the final to get a feel for the behemoth venue. Webb recalls being tended to by technical instructors and physios. “On the morning of the game we sat back with a sports psychologist and looked back on all the big games we’d delivered well,” Webb said. “We drew strength from that. We had some technical instruction as to how the teams would play.” After all, La Furia Roja were in the midst of their “Tiki-taka” era and the Dutch offered a list of quality attackers. “The game was so much harder than I ever anticipated,” Webb remarked. “I just couldn’t have imagined it would be quite so physical.” In a match that ended with 13 cautions and a sending off, Webb reminisces about an early interaction that indicated things were going to be different. “There was (an early) tackle by Robin van Persie, who at the time played for Arsenal. I knew Robin pretty well. I’d refereed him a dozen times or so,” Webb said. “He committed a foul that wasn’t worthy of a caution, but it was worthy of a word of advice. “I spoke to Robin, but he seemed a little bit different in his demeanour towards me … He wasn’t quite as responsive as I’d expect during a Premier League game. “I guess it was the intensity of the occasion and these players knowing they were on the cusp of something great.” He had already cautioned four players inside the first 30 minutes when de Jong crushed Alonso. “(The cards) didn’t calm anything down,” Webb continued. “It kept coming and coming.” He adds Spanish defender Carlos Puyol would have been ejected had Arjen Robben gone down under a second-half challenge. “It would have been a sending off. It would have been for sure,” Webb interjected. But Webb correctly played advantage upon seeing Robben shrug off Puyol’s cynical challenge. With only the goalkeeper to beat, the Dutchman’s breakaway was denied by Iker Casillas, paving the way for Iniesta’s moment in extra time. But even that moment caused the English referee to hold his breath. “I’d already cautioned 12 players,” Webb pointed out. “When Iniesta took his shirt off to celebrate my heart sank because I’d lost a bit of track of who’d been cautioned. “I looked at my card … There was no ‘No. 6’ on the Spanish side (of my book). That was another piece of good fortune on my side.” While most of the talk and thoughts have centred around the players ahead of Sunday’s final between France and Croatia, Webb will be thinking of someone else. “I remember having dinner the night before the final in 2014. I’d been with (World Cup final referee Nicola Rizzoli) and remember thinking I… could imagine how he was feeling,” Webb said. “I didn’t really wish I was going into that game the following day. You just know that it’s something that will change your life. Hopefully it goes well and nobody is remembering you for the wrong reason, but that can happen.” 
Former World Cup referee Howard Webb didn’t have video assistant referees, making life all the more difficult for old-school officials. “The results… are extremely clear and extremely positive,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said, according to The Daily Telegraph. There have been 440 “checks” during this World Cup, with 19 reviews and 16 decision changes. “VAR is cleaning football, making it more transparent and honest, helping referees to make decisions,” Infantino continued, claiming 99.32% of calls at this tournament have been correct. “Offside goals are finished in football, at least with VAR. You will never see an offside goal scored because with VAR you either are, or you are not, offside. How many times have you (the media) been writing about this: Is he offside or not? Now you will have other arguments because offside is finished.” Webb told the Sun that VAR helps World Cup referees sleep better at night. 

Source: Toronto Sun