While there has been the usual drama from the players on the pitch, one thing that has been noticeably absent from Euro 2016 is controversial calls from referees. And as the month-long tournament approaches the semi-finals, one former Arab referee believes it is time to recognise the excellent roles the men in black — or yellow, blue or red as they also are these days — have played in the competition. Gamal Al Ghandour, the ex-Egyptian referee who officiated at Euro 2000 as a result of collaboration between the authorities for the European event and the Africa Cup of Nations, spoke to Gulf News on Monday to share his views and experience as the only Arab and first African referee to participate in a Euro event. Al Ghandour (photo), who also refereed in World Cups 1998 and 2002, held in France and South Korea and Japan, said that the officials at Euro 2016 are performing admirably.
“They are gaining confidence all the time, which goes back to UEFA’s Chief Refereeing Officer Pierluigi Collina’s work, and I believe the large number of referees participating in the tournament is creating a fierce competition among them on who will carry on till the end of the tournament which is good,” he said. Commenting on Collina’s ways of developing the relationship between referees, players and UEFA refereeing officers, Al-Ghandour said that “his ways are emanating from practice and experience, which is what such position he is filling exactly needs.” When asked about who he thinks is the best and worst performing referees currently at Euro 2016, he said: “Viktor Kassai had the best spell of them all in the matches he was in charge of and has the most experience among them. I think Cüneyt Çakır’s performance fell a little. He’s not the ref we knew in recent European tournaments who used to be the best,” he added. And on whether a European referee would still outmatch an African and an Asian referee in terms of quality, Al Ghandour said: “In terms of quality, there are referees who are just as good as European ones in Asia and Africa. The difference comes in terms of the self-confidence both African and Asian referees unfortunately lack. Confidence comes from those they deal with, those that direct them. I wish they would have that [trust]. Both Asia and Africa have refereeing lecturers of great quality, but then their role will never be as effective as that of an [refereeing] official,” he added. Al Ghandour also talked about the difference between an Arab and a European referee and said that “an Arab referee knows more in the game’s rules; he reads it more, and gives refereeing far more time than a European referee. An Arab referee’s only problem is lack of trust and that, partially, goes back to his own personality, but mainly is because of the officials responsible for him in additional to the working environment he is involved in that revolves around conspiracy that puts him in blame most of the time,” he said. “This weakens the Arab referee’s trust in himself, in despite of his visible diligence. The difference between both referees [European and Arab] is made by what they receive morally and financially. If an Arab referee was to be treated equally as the European referee, he would surpass him,” he added. However, when it comes to current technological advancements on the pitch and how helpful they are to referees, he said that “its negatives have exceeded its positives.” The former ref added: “Refereeing failed to make good use of increasing the number of officials on the pitch. I believe only the goal-line and earpiece technologies (have been) convincing to me. Anything more than these two would be an exaggeration”.
Source: Gulf News