Nepotism in Romanian refereeing

Adrian Vidan had the most AR appointments in the Romanian first league: 300. He has been a FIFA assistant referee since 2000, with 75 international matches under his belt. Last month, the former leaders of the Romanian Referees Committee decided to remove him from the FIFA AR List in order to make room for Valentin Avram, the second of son of Vasile Avram, the ex-chairman of the committee, who managed to put his first son, Marius Avram, on the FIFA List of referees in 2010. The former deputy chairman of the committee, Constantin Gheorghe, also put his son, Sebastian Gheorghe, on the FIFA AR List in 2009. Finally, another associate member of the former national committee, Tudor Constantinescu, had his son, Andrei Constantinescu, nominated for the FIFA AR List this year.
Last week, when the new chairman of the Romanian Referees Committee, Ion Craciunescu, met with all referees from the first two divisions, Vidan stood up and said: "I want to talk! To talk about what happened to me during the last year and a half. It was a hunting lately, I was hunted, I felt hunted”.
- Mr. Vidan, why hunting, why did you feel hunted?
- Because they had made a plan. Looking to make room for their children, they needed to find a victim and they turned to one who is weaker, not as a referee, but in other areas. Then it followed a hunt, I felt it on my skin. I felt, actually hunted.
- What was the first sign?
- To be on the FIFA list you need to be in the first division for two years. Last year they were not allowed to put on the list either Valentin Avram or Andrei Constantinescu. Then they left things as they were, but they had already prepared the ground for their sons.
- Who are they?
- They, who led the committee, Vasile Avram and Constantin Gheorghe. The first sign that something was wrong was in April 2010, CFR - Rapid 1-0, with no problems on the field. After the game, the observer Constantin Gheorghe said that I looked at my watch 15 times, I spit 12 times and I entered the field 4 times. I thought he was joking and, while talking, I asked the waiter something. Gheorghe snapped at me: "You do not look at me when you talk?" and threatened me that I will not be assigned any more matches. Since then I realized that they were preparing something.
- What is the episode number 2?
- In the summer of 2010, my colleague referee Augustus Constantin phoned me and told me that we will be going together to an UEFA tournament. After two days, Vasile Avram called and told me that it would be better for Sebastian Gheorghe, the son of the deputy chairman Constantin Gheorghe, to go at that tournament instead of me, so I stayed home and he was taken there. Then ...
- It was the third episode?
- In the game CFR - Gloria Bistrita 0-1, a year ago, referee Balaj gave a penalty kick after I flagged for a foul in the penalty area. After that match, I was not assigned other games, although the video images clearly showed that it was a penalty kick. The referee observer told me that he gave me the highest mark within the trio, but the Referees Committee explained that I was not assigned other games in order to be… protected. Well, what did I steal in order to be “protected”? This was followed by other episodes, step by step.
- Tell us!
- Last winter, at our annual refresher course, it became clear that people had a plan that they wanted me out. They said at the course: "Some will have to withdraw or we will remove them from the FIFA List in the fall. We are referring to the older referees, because UEFA asked us to rejuvenate the list." A big lie! I met with an international observer and he told me that UEFA never require such things; each committee does what they see fit. They marched on the idea that Valentin Avram and Andrei Constantinescu are young and must enter the FIFA List, while I am 43. At the same course, we passed the fitness tests. The next day, we were told that FIFA require us to do some simulation exercises. On either side were two assistants. In a couple of situations, I signalled different than the other assistant, but I got the correct ones. The next day, when the analysis were made, we were given no advice, but instead they put six videos, all with me: "Look at him: he does not hold the arm straight, runs too slowly, etc”, but nobody said that I had made all the correct decisions!
- What happened next?
- Next up was in April this year. On the day of the first league match Steaua - Urziceni, with only two hours before going to the stadium, I was asked to go to the committee. They put me in a room where there were Vasile Avram (chairman), Constantin Gheorghe (deputy chairman), Dan Petrescu and Constantin Zotta (members). They showed me some stats and said: "Look, we appointed you often and you speak the committee on the back saying that here we promote our children." I asked: "Whom I have spoken to, gentlemen?" and they said, "You know, you know… Craciunescu, who else?" I have not spoken to Craciunescu for years… I went to the game, I was wrong on a goal, because my mind was at that meeting, not at the game… My luck was that it finished 5-0 and nothing has happened.
- However, we do not understand...
- I have another episode, but, frankly, and I am embarrassed to tell it. Last summer, the theoretical tests consisted of two parts: a multiple choice test and video. My mark was 7.02, while the minimum was 7.0. For the video test they could not do anything, because there were clear answers coming from UEFA, I think I got them all correct. I say, what the hell, I did not do anything on the multiple choice test? ... I knew that I answered them correctly. Do you know what they said? "We have not considered the answers that you have indicated with X and circle. Constantin Gheorghe requested that we cancel all your answers." Can you believe it?
- It seems that everything is possible in the refereeing world...
- I think so, especially after a discussion with Vasile Avram that put a lid on it. There are witnesses for whatever I said until this moment; what I say now was a discussion face-to-face with Avram. This happened just a few days before he was arrested for corruption. He said this: “I know that you do not deserve to be removed from the FIFA List, but UEFA had asked us and there is nothing we can do. Plus you are the only one who has not called anyone in the committee". He meant that I had no friends in clubs to intervene for me. I was shocked, I could not believe it, but I said, "If that is the price, thank you, I do not need to stay on the FIFA List. I was not and I did not want to be anyone's servant!" A week later, God punished Avram and he was arrested for corruption.
- What do you want?
- I do not want to appear as a justice, but I had to publicly tell these things for my peace of mind. Anyone in my place would have felt the same, because I was a victim of the nepotism that had taken over the Romanian refereeing. If UEFA's slogan is "We Care About Football”, the Romanian refereeing became "This is a family business". Ghinguleac was their next target. During a match where he was an assistant referee, Constantin Gheorghe phoned the referee observer Tudor Constantinescu, the father of Andrei Constantinescu: “You must give Ghinguleac a low mark!” Constantinescu replied that the AR did nothing wrong, but was rushed: "If I told you to give him a low mark, you must do that!" He eventually complied with those “orders” because both Gheorghe and Constantinescu have sons who are active ARs, while Avram has both sons involved, one as a referee and the other as an assistant referee.

Source: Gazeta Sporturilor