Collina: “97.5% accuracy rate for offside is huge”

UEFA's chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina has expressed his satisfaction at the quality of refereeing in the 24 group stage matches at UEFA Euro 2012 – and has also praised the players for their overall behaviour in the tournament so far.
Giving his overall view of refereeing issues up to now in Poland and Ukraine, Collina said that the pre-tournament dialogue between members of the UEFA Referees Committee and the players and coaches of each team had played a considerable part in the reduced number of incidents during matches. "There has been a long period of preparation for the match officials in various aspects, to help them to produce the best possible performances on the field of play," said the experienced Italian, who took charge of some of the biggest matches in world football during a distinguished career. "Over the last two years the feedback we have received about referees' performances has been very good. The general feeling from the football world has been very positive, and we are very happy about this. The 12 referees selected for Euro 2012 are definitely among the best in Europe," Collina added. "After the first 24 matches, we are satisfied by the performances. We have tried to achieve consistency, which is always a very important goal when you need to interpret the Laws of the Game on the field of play – and in particular, decisions relating to offside and fouls. We need to reach consistency, and I think we have had it in this competition. We felt the need to make the decisions of the referees understood by the players and coaches," Collina explained. "The feedback is very positive. The players' behaviour on the field has been very positive in terms of cooperation with referees and accepting referees' decisions. We have definitely seen fewer incidents on the field of play. We have had no red cards for violent conduct. I would like to take this public opportunity to thank all the players who have played in the first 24 matches."
Collina said that the preparation of the assistant referees had also been stepped up in recent times. "In modern football, offside has become very important. We decided to dedicate more attention to the assistant referees – a staff of former assistant referees worked with the selected referees before Euro, and we have former assistant referees here as instructors. When an assistant referee takes a decision, he can raise the flag or keep the flag down. We considered all the assessments made by assistant referees involving a distance of one metre from the offside line, with the assistant either raising his flag or keeping the flag down. We had 302 of these decisions in the 24 matches - with 289 correct decisions and 13 wrong decisions. This represents 95.7% accuracy and that is a huge result. What is even more important, 19 goals were scored on a very positive decision taken by the assistant referees to keep the flag down. We can be very happy about the performances of the assistant referees."
The 31 games in Poland and Ukraine are each being handled by a referee, two assistant referees and fourth official, supplemented by two additional assistant referees, as well as a reserve assistant referee. The additional assistant referees are positioned behind the goal line as part of a continuing experiment, authorized by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), and they focus in particular on incidents in and around the penalty area. "As an overall assessment, the additional assistants have contributed 16 times in the 24 matches to the decision taken by the referees," Collina explained. "Among these were three goal/non-goal situations. Two decisions were absolutely correct and the third was unfortunately wrong – it was a human mistake made by a human being. The ball crossed the line. That was unfortunate. It would have been better not to have it", Collina told a news conference in the Polish capital, Warsaw. He blamed human error for the call but said two similar decisions in the 24 matches so far played in the tournament – in the Germany - Portugal and Italy - Croatia group matches – had been correct, adding: "The third, unfortunately, was wrong." Collina tried to put the Ukraine incident into context, saying that the five officials system had been trialled successfully over "thousands of matches" in European domestic competitions. "This is the only problem we have had," he said. "It's one negative decision in three years of Champions League and two years of Europa League and 24 matches in the Euro," he told reporters. "I would be very happy to know if the same questions would have been asked without yesterday's decision." Collina said the decision was not a reflection on Kassai's overall performance and insisted that officials had a 95.7 percent accuracy rate in calling offside decisions in the group matches. They included a disputed goal by Spain's Jesus Navas in their 1-0 win against Croatia and two Cristiano Ronaldo goals in Portugal's 2-1 win against the Netherlands. But a goal by Greece in their match against the Czech Republic should not have been disallowed for offside, said Collina, blaming again "human error".
The incident has reopened the debate about the introduction of goal-line technology after a series of high-profile cases where goals were either given or disallowed, including against England in the last World Cup two years ago. FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, who is in favour of technology, wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter: "After last night's match #GLT (goal-line technology) is no longer an alternative but a necessity." That again put him at odds with his counterpart at European football's governing body UEFA, Michel Platini, who told reporters this week that the five officials currently being used in Euro 2012 were enough to prevent any controversial decisions. FIFA is currently trialling two prototypes of goal-line technology, one from British firm HawkEye, which uses a series of cameras in stadium roofs to track the trajectory of the ball, and another from German firm GoalRef, which uses sensors.

Source: AFP/UEFA