The inside story of how VAR was born

The Dutch Refereeing 2.0 project created goal-line technology. Its next creation – VAR – has proven to be more divisive among footballers, fans and pundits at the Russian World Cup. The first video referral in World Cup history happened during the Group B opener between Spain and Portugal, in Sochi. In the 24th minute, Spanish striker Diego Costa clattered against defender Pepe, elbowing him in the face. The defender fell to the ground and, in the sequence of the play, Costa sent the ball into the corner of the net. As Spain celebrated equalising the match at 1-1, referee Gianluca Rocchi consulted the video assistant referee (VAR) using his headset, asking if he had seen anything wrong with the play. The VAR, who at the time was sitting in a video operations room in Moscow, 1,620km away from the action, replied that all was OK. The goal was allowed to stand. "It was a clear foul,” Fernando Santos, Portugal’s boss, said after the match. Even Spain's Diego Costa agreed: "I saw it afterwards. You could give a foul. It's the referee's interpretation." When asked about VAR, he added: "I don't like it… I scored a goal but I didn't know whether to celebrate or not. If there is a questionable part of the play, you don't celebrate. It can make you look stupid." 
VAR was conceived as part of an ambitious project conducted by The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) called Refereeing 2.0. Its aim? To reinvent refereeing. "With all the 4G and Wi-Fi in stadia today, the referee is the only person who can’t see exactly what is happening and he’s actually the only one who should," says Lukas Brud, IFAB secretary at the International Football Association (IFAB). "We knew we had to protect referees from making mistakes that everyone can see immediately." One of the project’s first successes was the introduction of goal-line technology by FIFA in 2012, after a two-year trial conducted by KNVB. Thanks to that, at World Cup matches, referees are now instantly alerted when the ball completely crosses the line, via a technology developed by British tech company Hawk-Eye. (The same company widely adopted in professional tennis). “Soccer has always been very conservative when it came to the introduction of technology,” Brud says. “We knew that we are opening a very wide door and that if we started down this path, there would be no way back.” In 2014, KNVB began informally petitioning IFAB, the organisation responsible for developing the laws of the game, to introduce video-assistance in football matches. However, it was only after the departure of FIFA’s disgraced boss Sepp Blatter, a man notoriously adverse to football's technological enhancement, that the project received proper consideration. In October 2015, FIFA’s new boss, the Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino, held a preparatory meeting at FIFA’s HQ in Zurich to consider the Dutch proposal for VAR. The idea was well received. Most of the members of the football body were of the opinion that there had already been enough high-profile controversies in football – from Thierry Henry’s handball that qualified France to the 2010 World Cup at the expense of Ireland to Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany in the World Cup of 2014 – that justified seeking a solution that would prevent similar errors in the future. “Those were serious incidences that could have been easily corrected with video assistant referees," Brud says. "If we had mentioned the idea of introducing video referees in 2010, people would say we were crazy, but now they saw it as an opportunity to help referees and to achieve fairer outcomes in a match." At that stage, the technology was still untested in top-flight matches. The Dutch had only conducted offline testing and mock trials at the Eredivise, Netherlands top-flight championship, during the 2012-13 season. In March 2016, at IFAB’s Annual General Meeting, a decision was made to start a two-year experiment to scientifically validate VAR. Its first test came at two international friendly matches that month between Italy and Spain and Italy and Germany. “It was very successful because nothing happened," Brud laughs. It confirmed what we were hoping for, that this is not going to be used in every single match." 
Initially, the intention was to use VAR to address most incidents in the game, but they quickly realised that was an unrealistic prospect. Instead they opted to reduce its remit, so as to achieve what they call "minimum interference and maximum benefit" in the game. The use of VAR is restricted to what is defined as "clear and obvious errors" in match-changing situations: possible infringement just before a goal, penalties, red cards, and instances when the referee mistakenly cautions the wrong player. “The game has become quicker and it’s increasingly difficult for referees to keep up with everything and make perfect decisions but we’re not trying to improve every problem in refereeing and that’s a misconception that people have," Brud says. "We’re trying to avoid scandals. We don’t want to create something in football that’s constantly interruptive and destroying the game." Last season, VAR was trialled by various national football associations, like the German Bundesliga, the Italian Serie A, and the Portuguese Primeira Liga. In England, it was tested at the League Cup and the FA Cup. These trials, as expected, often made headlines, for all the wrong reasons. For instance, in Australia, at the A-League grand final between Melbourne Victor and the Newcastle Jets, the referee tried to consult the system after a winning goal was scored from an offside position, to no avail as the cameras had frozen moments just before the incident. In Portugal, a review following a goal also proved impossible as the offside camera was blocked by a flag. In the final of the German cup, a penalty in the 93rd minute was not awarded. There was apparent contact when the defender hit the left leg of the player and he went down immediately in the penalty box. The referee was given advice by the VAR to look at the situation again, which he did, and still didn’t award a penalty. “Today it’s still not clear what happened," Brud says. "In many those cases the referee's decision was actually right, but people have a different understanding of the laws of the game. They have a different opinion. The referee is normally basing his decisions on pure neutral facts, but for some people they are emotionally involved and it is really difficult to understand." Brud might have a point. In an analysis carried out by sport scientists at KU Leuven, encompassing more than 800 matches in more twenty countries, it was found that the total accuracy in refereeing decisions had risen from 93 per cent to nearly 99 per cent in the four categories that VAR intervenes in. Nearly 57 per cent of VAR checks were for penalties and goals; VAR was used less than five times per match, and the average time lost due to the usage of VAR was less than 90 seconds in a game. 
The World Cup in Russia is the first competition using VAR in full. The system works as follows: five officials — the referee, the two on-pitch assistants, the fourth official and the video assistant referee (VAR)— are in constant communication via headset. After an incident, either VAR makes a recommendation or the referee requests their opinion. VAR can also flag events that the referee has missed, in which case, the referee can simply accept VAR’s verdict or check a monitor located on the side of the pitch. The VAR itself is located on a video operating room at the headquarters in Moscow. The VAR will consist of one VAR and three assistants – all FIFA match officials. These referees, wearing full kit, are located in a video operations room furnished with ten screens displaying the multiple camera angles from broadcast cameras and the two offside cameras in the stadium. These touchscreens allow referees to zoom in and out and instantly select different angles. Furthermore, to counteract criticism that the decision-making process was often unclear to players and fans, replays and graphics explaining the decision are shown on giant screens inside the stadia. So far at the World Cup, four penalties have been given by VAR, and there were only five reviews in the first 17 matches of the competition. Concerns that VAR would lead for long interruptions have also been proven wrong. Of course, critics continue to point incidents were VAR has failed to rectify a decision from the referee, such as clash between Costa and Pepe before the Spain goal. For instance, at the England - Tunisia game, VAR was reviewed twice when England striker Harry Kane is seen being wrestled by Tunisian defenders, but no penalty was given. "That is what VAR is there for," Kane said to the press. "At a few corners I couldn't move." It seems to be a naive criticism, however. Without VAR those decisions would have remained the same, regardless. Surely the point of VAR is in rectifying not all, but some incorrect decisions. That's what happened in the game between Peru and Denmark, after striker Christian Cueva went down in the area. The referee waved on but 23 seconds later, stopped play to consult and correctly awarded the penalty. "The problem is that people are always looking and picking out the controversial things," Brud says. "No one cares if someone had a happy day. This is why this will always be a problem of VAR's. People just ignore how well it can work. Normally it works well, but as soon as it doesn't, the discussions start again." Whatever happens, football will never be the same again. 

Source: Wired

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Matches 33-36)

25 June 2018

Uruguay – Russia
Referee: Malang Diedhiou (SEN, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Djibril Camara (SEN)
Assistant Referee 2: El Hadji Samba (SEN)
Fourth Official: Bamlak Tessema (ETH)
Reserve AR: Hasan Al-Mahri (UAE)

Saudi Arabia – Egypt
Referee: Wilmar Roldan (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Alexander Guzman (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Cristian De la Cruz (COL)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Montero (CRC)
Reserve AR: Hiroshi Yamauchi (JPN)

Iran – Portugal
Referee: Enrique Caceres (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Cardozo (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Zorrilla (PAR)
Fourth Official: Mehdi Abid Charef (ALG)
Reserve AR: Anouar Hmila (TUN)

Spain – Morocco
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)
Assistant Referee 1: Abduxamidullo Rasulov (UZB)
Assistant Referee 2: Jakhongir Saidov (UZB)
Fourth Official: Mohammed Abdulla (UAE)
Reserve AR: Mohammed Al-Hammadi (UAE)

Serbia filed official complaint against referee Brych

For Serbia, it was a day and a night of agonising frustration, and at the end it boiled over. Before kick-off against Switzerland, they had watched Costa Rica holding out against Brazil, backs to the wall. By the end of normal time, it was goalless and, if Kaylor Navas could keep the Brazilians at bay for six more minutes, Serbia would go out on to the pitch in Kaliningrad knowing that, if they beat the Swiss, they would qualify for the knockout phase of a World Cup for the first time in 20 years when they still went by the name of Yugoslavia.
Costa Rica did not cling on in St. Petersburg and after dominating the opening hour in Kaliningrad, Serbia did not cling on against Switzerland. Now, they will have to beat Brazil in Moscow’s Spartak Stadium to go through. They were irritated beyond measure by the double-eagle celebrations of Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri that marked the goal-scorers out as children of Kosovan refugees, but they were not prepared to discuss the politics of Kosovo. They were, however, prepared to talk about the refereeing of Felix Brych, which Savo Milosevic claimed cost them a clear penalty for a foul on Aleksandar Mitrovic. In the first match against Costa Rica, Mitrovic had also had a fierce claim for a penalty waved away. Since Serbia won that match, it did not matter. This did. “We have filed an official complaint, that is all we can do”, said Milosevic, who spent three years at Aston Villa and is now vice-president of the Serbian FA. “Two decisions in two games is too much. This is a World Cup and those kinds of decisions are deciding games. This decision, against Mitrovic, was at 1-1 and they have decided the game on the pitch instead of us. I congratulate the Swiss, they are an excellent team but, really? I understand the referee didn’t see it but that is why we have VAR. What are those guys doing up there? Do we need another four men up there, do we need 100 people to control VAR for something we can all see perfectly well? We are Serbia and nobody cares, that is all I can think of”, concluded Milosevic. 

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Matches 30-32)

24 June 2018

England – Panama
Referee: Ghead Grisha (EGY, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Redouane Achik (MAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Waleed Ahmed (SDN)
Fourth Official: Norbert Hauata (TAH) 

Reserve AR: Bertrand Brial (NCL)
VAR: Danny Makkelie (NED)
AVAR 1: Pawel Gil (POL)
AVAR 2: Sander van Roekel (NED)
AVAR 3: Mark Geiger (USA)

Japan – Senegal
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)
Assistant Referee 1: Elenito Di Liberatore (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Mauro Tonolini (ITA)
Fourth Official: Abdulrahman Al Jassim (QAT)
Reserve AR: Taleb Al Marri (QAT)
VAR: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
AVAR 1: Tiago Martins (POR)
AVAR 2: Hernan Maidana (ARG)
AVAR 3: Paolo Valeri (ITA)

Poland – Colombia
Referee: Cesar Ramos (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Marvin Torrentera (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Miguel Hernandez (MEX)
Fourth Official: Julio Bascunan (CHI)
Reserve AR: Christian Schiemann (CHI)
VAR: Mauro Vigliano (ARG)
AVAR 1: Gery Vargas (BOL)
AVAR 2: Roberto Diaz Perez (ESP)
AVAR 3: Daniele Orsato (ITA)

Egypt to file complaint against referee Caceres

Egypt will formally protest to FIFA about the performance of Paraguay referee Enrique Caceres (photo) whose decisions they feel prejudiced the outcome of their World Cup game against hosts Russia in St Petersburg on Tuesday. “We want an investigation into the performance of the whole refereeing team”, Egyptian Football Association president Hany Abo Rida told Reuters. 
Egypt lost the game 3-1 to suffer a second defeat at the tournament and an early elimination in their first World Cup appearance since 1990. Abo Rida, who is also a FIFA Council member, said Egypt felt fullback Ahmed Fathi was pushed in the process of attempting to clear the ball two minutes into the second half and resultantly steered it into his own net to give Russia the lead. He also felt there was a legitimate penalty appeal in the 78th minute for striker Marwan Mohsen, bundled over by Russia defender Ilya Kutepov. By that stage, Egypt were 3-1 down. “The referee should have used the VAR system to check and award the penalty. They should have also seen that Fathi had been pushed. It is our right to complain and ask for an investigation”, added Abo Rida. 

Source: Reuters

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Matches 27-29)

23 June 2018

Belgium – Tunisia
Referee: Jair Marrufo (USA, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Corey Rockwell (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Zumba (SLV)
Fourth Official: Andres Cunha (URU)
Reserve AR: Nicolas Taran (URU)
VAR: Mark Geiger (USA)
AVAR 1: Bastian Dankert (GER)
AVAR 2: Joe Fletcher (CAN)
AVAR 3: Felix Zwayer (GER)

Korea – Mexico
Referee: Milorad Mažić (SRB)
Assistant Referee 1: Milovan Ristić (SRB)
Assistant Referee 2: Dalibor Djurdjević (SRB)
Fourth Official: John Pitti (PAN)
Reserve AR: Gabriel Victoria (PAN)
VAR: Daniele Orsato (ITA)
AVAR 1: Artur Dias (POR)
AVAR 2: Carlos Astroza (CHI)
AVAR 3: Tiago Martins (POR)

Germany – Sweden
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (POL)
Assistant Referee 1: Pawel Sokolnicki (POL)
Assistant Referee 2: Tomasz Listkiewicz (POL)
Fourth Official: Ryuji Sato (JPN)
Reserve AR: Toru Sagara (JPN)
VAR: Clement Turpin (FRA)
AVAR 1: Pawel Gil (POL)
AVAR 2: Cyril Gringore (FRA)
AVAR 3: Paolo Valeri (ITA)

Elleray: VAR interventions allow fairness to prevail

The introduction of video assistant referees was one of the major issues heading into this World Cup and, as expected, it has been a near constant talking point during the first round of games. But FIFA says it is "extremely satisfied with the level of refereeing to date and the successful implementation of the VAR system". David Elleray, technical director of the International Football Association Board - the body which oversees the laws of the game, told BBC Sport its overall impact has been very positive. "There have only been five reviews in the first 17 matches, which conforms to the global average of one in every three games," said Elleray, who helps to train referees in the use of VAR. "This is 'minimal interference' and with the outcome of three matches being directly affected by the VAR intervention this is 'maximum benefit' and a fairer World Cup. The behaviour of players has been excellent, with only one red card and a low average of yellow cards and little mobbing of referees." Here, we take a look at the incidents so far and get Elleray's verdict on whether VAR worked in each case.


England – Tunisia
The first incident in the Group G game in Volgograd came in the 39th minute. Ferjani Sassi, who had scored a debatable penalty four minutes earlier for Tunisia, appeared to grab Kane in the penalty area and wrestle him to the floor from an England free-kick. The video assistant referee, Sandro Ricci of Brazil, did initiate a review but no penalty was awarded. The second incident, at an England corner in the 52nd minute, appeared to show Kane being pulled to the floor by Yassine Meriah. Again the decision was checked, again the same outcome.
Elleray: "The incident in the first half is more blatant than in the second half. FIFA said referees would be strong on clear holding in the penalty area, so it is not clear why the VAR did not recommend an on-field review, unless he felt that there were also offences by other England players." 

France – Australia 
In the 54th minute of France's Group C game against Australia in Kazan, France forward Antoine Griezmann was challenged by Josh Risdon. Referee Andres Cunha waved play on but, after play continued for about 20 seconds, he stopped the game and headed to the review screen by the dugouts, before awarding the penalty. Griezmann converted to set France on their way to a win. 
Elleray: "The initial challenge by the Australia defender looks fair but close examination shows that the defender then lifts his leg to trip Griezmann. This is something the referee did not see and thus he made a clear error in not awarding a penalty kick. Correct VAR intervention." 

Brazil – Switzerland 
Brazil were leading their Group E opener with Switzerland when they felt defender Miranda was pushed as Steven Zuber headed in a 50th-minute equaliser. The Brazilians also felt Gabriel Jesus was manhandled inside the Switzerland penalty area later in the second half, but neither incident appeared to be reviewed by VAR. 
Elleray: "Brazilian anger is retrospective; there is no immediate reaction from the Brazilian defenders when the goal is scored. There is always some pushing and shoving in the penalty area and the referee's decision not to penalise the attacker is not a clear and obvious error." 

Peru – Denmark 
With the Group C game between Peru and Denmark goalless in the 44th minute in Saransk, Christian Cueva went down in the area under a challenge from Yussuf Poulsen. Referee Bakary Gassama waved play on but, again, after play continued for about 23 seconds, the official blew his whistle and stopped play to consult the review screen. A penalty was awarded to Peru, but Cueva couldn't cash in, shooting over. 
Elleray: "This is a clear referee error and the VAR intervention allows fairness to prevail and the correct decision to be given, which directly affected the final result. VAR at its best." 

Sweden – Korea 
Sweden's Group F game with South Korea appeared to be drifting towards a goalless draw in Nizhny Novgorod when Viktor Claesson fell under a Kim Min-woo challenge in the Korean penalty area in the 65th minute. Referee Joel Aguilar initially allowed play to go but called a halt moments later. He looked at the incident again on the pitch-side screen and about 90 seconds later Andreas Granqvist scored the penalty that was awarded. 
Elleray: "This is a very clear missed penalty and it is somewhat surprising that the referee made such a clear error. This incident shows how VAR has brought greater fairness to the World Cup as this penalty directly affected the result of the match." 

Russia – Egypt 
In Group A match between Egypt and Russia, Mohamed Salah was held by Roman Zobnin when running into the area. The holding began outside but continued into the 18-yard box. Initially referee Enrique Caceres gave a free-kick but VAR deemed the infringement was inside the box. 
Elleray: "The laws of the game clearly state that if holding starts outside the penalty area and continues into the penalty area it is a penalty kick. This was a good example of the VAR assisting the referee to make the correct decision." 

Source: BBC

FIFA denies referee Geiger asked for Portugal shirt

FIFA has denied claims by a Morocco player that American referee Mark Geiger asked for a player’s shirt during Portugal’s 1-0 win on Wednesday.
Geiger denied the allegation to FIFA, which says the referee behaved in an “exemplary and professional manner” in a statement issued Thursday. “FIFA unequivocally condemns the allegations supposedly made by a member of the Moroccan team,” the statement read. “FIFA referees are under clear instructions with regard to their behavior and relationship with the teams and it can be confirmed that Mr. Geiger has acted in an exemplary and professional manner as an appointed match official. FIFA would like to remind teams of their duty to respect all principles of Fair Play”.
The claim was made by Morocco player Nordin Amrabat in a post-game interview with Netherlands public broadcaster NOS. Amrabat said Portugal defender Pepe told him the referee had asked for his shirt during the first half. “I do not know what he is used to”, Morocco midfielder Nordin Amrabat told Dutch television NOS. “But he was very impressed with Ronaldo and I hear from Pepe that he asked in the first half if he could have his shirt. What are we talking about? At the World Cup? It’s not a circus here”. Some media reported Amrabat as saying Pepe told him Geiger had asked for Ronaldo’s shirt. FIFA responded by saying it learned of reports of the allegation with “regret and disappointment”.

Source: The Guardian

UEFA Europa League – Preliminary Round (Second Leg)

5 July 2018

Klaksvík – Birkirkara
Referee: Kristoffer Karlsson (SWE, photo)

Assistant Referee 1: Peter Allheim (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Mikael Hallin (SWE)
Fourth Official: Andreas Ekberg (SWE)
Referee Observer: Rusmir Mrković (BIH)

St. Joseph's FC – B36 Torshavn
Referee: Christophe Pires (LUX)
Assistant Referee 1: Daniel Da Costa (LUX)
Assistant Referee 2: Gilles Becker (LUX)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Morais (LUX)
Referee Observer: Dragutin Poljak (CRO)

FK Trakai – Cefn Druids
Referee: Dejan Jakimovski (MKD)
Assistant Referee 1: Nikola Karakolev (MKD)
Assistant Referee 2: Kushtrim Lika (MKD)
Fourth Official: Dimitar Mečkarovski (MKD)
Referee Observer: Aleksandr Gvardis (RUS)

FC Prishtina – Europa FC
Referee: Ioánnis Papadópoulos (GRE)
Assistant Referee 1: Ilías Alexéas (GRE)
Assistant Referee 2: Konstantínos Nikolaidis (GRE)
Fourth Official: Emmanouíl Skoulás (GRE)
Referee Observer: Dušan Krchňák (SVK)

Gżira United – Sant Julia
Referee: Juxhin Xhaja (ALB)
Assistant Referee 1: Denis Rexha (ALB)
Assistant Referee 2: Ilir Tartaraj (ALB)
Fourth Official: Klajdi Kola (ALB)
Referee Observer: Brian Lawlor (WAL)

Bala Town – Tre Fiori
Referee: Kristoffer Hagenes (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Reidar Gundersen (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Øystein Ytterland (NOR)
Fourth Official: Tom Harald Hagen (NOR)
Referee Observer: Pjetur Sigurdsson (ISL)


Folgore – Engordany
Referee: Zbyněk Proske (CZE)
Assistant Referee 1: Radek Kotík (CZE)
Assistant Referee 2: Jiří Kříž (CZE)
Fourth Official: Pavel Orel (CZE)
Referee Observer: Milan Karadžić (SRB)

UEFA Europa League – Preliminary Round (First Leg)

26-28 June 2018

Europa FC – FC Prishtina
Referee: João Capela (POR, photo)

Assistant Referee 1: Nélson Cordeiro (POR)
Assistant Referee 2: Pedro Ferreira (POR)
Fourth Official: António Carvalho (POR)
Referee Observer: William Young (SCO)

Sant Julia – Gżira United
Referee: Denys Shurman (UKR)
Assistant Referee 1: Oleksandr Zhukov (UKR)
Assistant Referee 2: Valentyn Kutsev (UKR)
Fourth Official: Mykola Balakin (UKR)
Referee Observer: Jari Maisonlahti (FIN)

Birkirkara – Klaksvík
Referee: Besfort Kasumi (KVX)
Assistant Referee 1: Edmond Zeqiri (KVX)
Assistant Referee 2: Fatmir Sekiraqa (KVX)
Fourth Official: Genc Nuza (KVX)
Referee Observer: Nicolae Grigorescu (ROU)

Engordany – Folgore
Referee: Kári Jóannesarson (FRO)
Assistant Referee 1: Andrew Christiansen (FRO)
Assistant Referee 2: Jørleif Djurhuus (FRO)
Fourth Official: Eiler Rasmussen (FRO)
Referee Observer: Plarent Kotherja (ALB)

B36 Torshavn – St. Joseph’s FC
Referee: Jari Järvinen (FIN)
Assistant Referee 1: Sami Nykänen (FIN
Assistant Referee 2: Jarno Kiistala (FIN)
Fourth Official: Atte Jussila (FIN)
Referee Observer: Vencel Tóth (HUN)

Cefn Druids – FK Trakai
Referee: Christopher Jäger (AUT)
Assistant Referee 1: Roland Riedel (AUT)
Assistant Referee 2: Christian Rigler (AUT)
Fourth Official: Walter Altmann (AUT)
Referee Observer: Václav Krondl (CZE)

Tre Fiori – Bala Town
Referee: Stanislav Todorov (BUL)
Assistant Referee 1: Martin Venev (BUL)
Assistant Referee 2: Aleksandar Atanasov (BUL)
Fourth Official: Ivaylo Stoyanov (BUL)
Referee Observer: Salustià Chato Ciprés (AND)

UEFA Champions League – Preliminary Round

Semi-finals

26 June 2018
Santa Coloma – KF Drita
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (IRL)
Assistant Referee 1: Darragh Keegan (IRL)
Assistant Referee 2: Darren Carey (IRL)
Fourth Official: Sean Grant (IRL)
Referee Observer: William Young (SCO)

La Fiorita – Lincoln FC
Referee: Jørgen Daugbjerg Burchardt (DEN)
Assistant Referee 1: Heine Sørensen (DEN)
Assistant Referee 2: Niels Høg (DEN)
Fourth Official: Michael Johansen (DEN)
Referee Observer: William Young (SCO)

Final

29 June 2018
Winner SF 1 - Winner SF 2
Referee: Manfredas Lukjančukas (LTU)
Assistant Referee 1: Aleksandr Radiuš (LTU)
Assistant Referee 2: Vladimir Gerasimov (LTU)
Fourth Official: Jurij Paškovskij (LTU)
Referee Observer: William Young (SCO)

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Matches 24-26)

22 June 2018

Brazil – Costa Rica
Referee: Björn Kuipers (NED, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Sander van Roekel (NED)
Assistant Referee 2: Erwin Zeinstra (NED) 

Fourth Official: Damir Skomina (SVN)
Reserve AR: Jure Praprotnik (SVN)
VAR: Danny Makkelie (NED)
AVAR 1: Artur Dias (POR)
AVAR 2: Joe Fletcher (CAN)
AVAR 3: Mark Geiger (USA)

Nigeria – Iceland
Referee: Matthew Conger (NZL)
Assistant Referee 1: Simon Lount (NZL)
Assistant Referee 2: Tevita Makasini (TGA)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Montero (CRC)
Reserve AR: Hiroshi Yamauchi (JPN)
VAR: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
AVAR 1: Pawel Gil (POL)
AVAR 2: Elenito Di Liberatore (ITA)
AVAR 3: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)

Serbia – Switzerland

Referee: Felix Brych (GER)
Assistant Referee 1: Mark Borsch (GER)
Assistant Referee 2: Stefan Lupp (GER)
Fourth Official: Nawaf Shukralla (BHR)
Reserve AR: Yaser Tulefat (BHR)
VAR: Felix Zwayer (GER)
AVAR 1: Bastian Dankert (GER)
AVAR 2: Carlos Astroza (CHI)
AVAR 3: Clement Turpin (FRA)

FIFA to investigate VAR failures

FIFA will investigate the failure of video technology after Harry Kane’s World Cup penalty farce. Kane was denied what looked like two clear penalty decisions in their 2-1 victory over Tunisia after twice being wrestled to the ground by Ferjani Sassi. Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan took no action and the four VAR officials also failed to intervene to leave the English fuming. That comes on top of Brazil also complaining to FIFA, after claiming they were denied two key decisions in Sunday's draw with Switzerland. It has all left VAR in danger of becoming a farce and now the Football Association are watching with interest to see what action the world governing body will take. FA technical director Dan Ashworth has already held a debrief on the game and England believe they were wronged on both decisions, but will not take action of their own until it is known whether FIFA will intervene.
FIFA are likely to hold their own referees’ meeting in the next week and then go on to explain publicly the decisions after introducing VAR at the tournament. It is being used in the World Cup for the first time and, according to FIFA, should only “correct clear and obvious errors and missed incidents in clearly defined match-changing decisions”. There were suggestions that at other infringements on the pitch at the time were to blame for Kane not being awarded either penalty. For the first, there is clearly a push from John Stones on Tunisia defender Ellyes Skhiri before the ball reaches Kane and Sassi, and then for the second it is possible to argue that Kane grabbed Yassine Meriah's arm as the pair tussled. England defender Kyle Walker, who conceded a controversial penalty himself, claims that the players have been left confused over VAR. Walker said: “We’ve had a briefing, but what’s correct and what’s not? When do you ask for it? You don’t want to crowd the referee and say ‘VAR’, because then it is a yellow card.I think you just have to let the referees get on with it and let them take the decisions. They have got a hard enough game as it is without putting any more confusion in it. Striker Marcus Rashford said: “The idea of bringing it (VAR) into the game is spot on. It will improve with time because there are some decisions where they have to at least check whether or not it’s a penalty. I’m sure it’s something they can improve on. We’ve not talked about last night (against Tunisia) specifically, but we’ve had conversations about it previously. It’s a tough one because I think it’s something the game needed. As with everything, it needs improving and I think it will improve in time”.
The Brazil FA also weighed into the controversy after they had two decisions they felt should have been reviewed ignored in their match against the Swiss. Brazilian football’s governing body said: "The CBF requires to know from FIFA the reason the technology was not used in key incidents during the game".

Source: Mirror

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Matches 21-23)

21 June 2018

Denmark – Australia
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Pau Cebrian Devís (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Roberto Díaz Perez (ESP)
Fourth Official: Bamlak Tessema (ETH) 

Reserve AR: Juan Mora (CRC)
VAR: Mark Geiger (USA)
AVAR 1: Jair Marrufo (USA)
AVAR 2: Joe Fletcher (CAN)
AVAR 3: Paolo Valeri (ITA)

France – Peru
Referee: Mohammed Abdulla (UAE)
Assistant Referee 1: Mohamed Al-Hammadi (UAE)
Assistant Referee 2: Hasan Al-Mahri (UAE)
Fourth Official: Janny Sikazwe (ZAM)
Reserve AR: Jerson Dos Santos (ANG)
VAR: Daniele Orsato (ITA)
AVAR 1: Abdulrahman Al Jassim (QAT)
AVAR 2: Taleb Al Marri (QAT)
AVAR 3: Szymon Marciniak (POL)

Argentina – Croatia
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)
Assistant Referee 1: Abduxamidullo Rasulov (UZB)
Assistant Referee 2: Jakhongir Saidov (UZB)
Fourth Official: Norbert Hauata (TAH)
Reserve AR: Bertrand Brial (NCL)
VAR: Felix Zwayer (GER)
AVAR 1: Bastian Dankert (GER)
AVAR 2: Corey Rockwell (USA)
AVAR 3: Danny Makkelie (NED)

Brazil requests VAR audio and video recordings

CBF sent a letter to FIFA the next day after the 1-1 draw with Switzerland, in which it questioned the procedures that led to the non-use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR). CBF would like to share with FIFA its firm belief in an appropriate and effective implementation of VAR technology. With that in mind, CBF respectfully requests that video and audio from the VAR be provided in order to verify what actually happened - it says in the document.
In the letter addressed to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, CBF asks for clarification regarding compliance with the VAR protocol and questions the reason why the technology was not used, in CBF's words, in the two key episodes of the game. The Brazilian players complained before the restart of the game, as soon as the screen of the arena in Rostov showed the replay of the foul. Mexican referee Cesar Ramos, however, did not listen to them. FIFA says the referee was right, but they condemned the replay on the big screen.
"We refer to match 9 of the World Cup, played between Brazil and Switzerland. After analyzing the game, we would like to draw your attention to certain key episodes of the match, which we noticed after a review by our technical department, in particular, regarding the conduct of referee Cesar Ramos and video assistant referee Paolo Valeri.

The episodes are as follows:
a) Minute 50: In the action that led to the Swiss goal, it is clear that the Brazilian player Miranda was clearly pushed and moved away by the goalkeeper. Zuber deliberately pulls Miranda on two different occasions with both hands. The second occasion is clearer, because the bodies of the two players are more distant. The action features a clear foul, which resulted in an advantage for Zuber, as Miranda was unable to reach the ball. The referee did not penalize the foul and Zuber scored the decisive goal.
b) Minute 74: Switzerland defender Manuel Akanji's fouled Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus, who, having been committed in the penalty area, would have resulted in a penalty kick in Brazil's favor, but was not awarded.

These two actions constitute, in CBF's opinion, clear errors of the referee, which should therefore have been analyzed by the VAR in accordance with the VAR protocol. On the other hand, the CBF knows that according to the protocol established by the IFAB and by FIFA, it is the referee's final decision whether a play should be reviewed or not and whether the VAR recommendation should be followed or not. Likewise, the CBF knows that the VAR must inform the referee about the actions that can be reviewed, providing him with all the facts and recommending the decision to be made.

Considering what has been said above and in light of the fact that the VAR has recently been introduced at the international level, and it is normal that certain clarifications are provided in the early stages of implementation in this new technology, CBF respectfully would like to be informed about:
1. Mr. Valeri, or someone else in the VAR, suggested to the referee to review any of the plays and how?
2. Did the referee, or someone with the power to do so, ask the VAR to analyze the plays?
3. In any of these cases, what was the communication between the two parties?

Finally, the CBF learned from news reports that the FIFA Referees Committee would have said that the referee decisions in the aforementioned plays were correct and there would be no need to review them with the use of the VAR. In this regard, CBF would like to receive an official position on this subject and, once provided with such a position, reserves all of its rights to comment, also in the light of which possible moves may be reviewed throughout this competition.”

Source: Globo Esporte

World Cup and Euro final referee Gonella mourned

Former Italian referee Sergio Gonella, who took charge of both FIFA World Cup final and UEFA Euro final in the 1970s, has died at the age of 85.
Gonella was promoted to Serie A in 1965 and became FIFA referee in 1972. He officiated the 1976 UEFA European Championship final in Belgrade, when Czechoslovakia defeated West Germany 5-3 on penalties after the two teams had finished level at 2-2 after extra time. He went on to referee the FIFA World Cup final in 1978, which saw host country Argentina beat the Netherlands 3-1 in Buenos Aires, also after extra time. After his retirement, Gonella became president of the Association of Italian Referees (AIA) between 1998 and 2000 and entered the Hall of Fame of Italian football in 2013.

Source: UEFA

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Matches 18-20)

20 June 2018

Portugal – Morocco 
Referee: Mark Geiger (USA, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Joe Fletcher (CAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Frank Anderson (USA)
Fourth Official: Sergei Karasev (RUS)
Reserve AR: Anton Averianov (RUS)
VAR: Felix Zwayer (GER)
AVAR 1: Jair Marrufo (USA)
AVAR 2: Simon Lount (NZL)
AVAR 3: Bastian Dankert (GER)

Uruguay – Saudi Arabia
Referee: Clement Turpin (FRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Nicolas Danos (FRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Cyril Gringore (FRA)
Fourth Official: John Pitti (PAN)
Reserve AR: Gabriel Victoria (PAN)
VAR: Szymon Marciniak (POL)
AVAR 1: Pawel Gil (POL)
AVAR 2: Pawel Sokolnicki (POL)
AVAR 3: Daniele Orsato (ITA)

Iran – Spain
Referee: Andres Cunha (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Nicolas Taran (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Mauricio Espinosa (URU)
Fourth Official: Julio Bascunan (CHI)
Reserve AR: Christian Schiemann (CHI)
VAR: Mauro Vigliano (ARG)
AVAR 1: Wilton Sampaio (BRA)
AVAR 2: Alexander Guzman (COL)
AVAR 3: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Matches 15-17)

19 June 2018

Colombia – Japan 

Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Jure Praprotnik (SVN)
Assistant Referee 2: Robert Vukan (SVN)
Fourth Official: Mehdi Abid Charef (ALG)
Reserve AR: Anouar Hmila (TUN)
VAR: Danny Makkelie (NED)
AVAR 1: Bastian Dankert (GER)
AVAR 2: Sander van Roekel (NED)
AVAR 3: Felix Zwayer (GER)

Poland – Senegal
Referee: Nawaf Shukralla (BHR)
Assistant Referee 1: Yaser Tulefat (BHR)
Assistant Referee 2: Taleb Al Marri (QAT)
Fourth Official: Abdulrahman Al Jassim (QAT)
Reserve AR: Mohammed Al-Hammadi (UAE)
VAR: Artur Dias (POR)
AVAR 1: Tiago Martins (POR)
AVAR 2: Hernan Maidana (ARG)
AVAR 3: Wilton Sampaio (BRA)

Russia – Egypt
Referee: Enrique Caceres (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Cardozo (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Zorrilla (PAR)
Fourth Official: Cüneyt Çakir (TUR)
Reserve AR: Bahattin Duran (TUR)
VAR: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
AVAR 1: Mauro Vigliano (ARG)
AVAR 2: Carlos Astroza (CHI)
AVAR 3: Szymon Marciniak (POL)

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Matches 12-14)

18 June 2018

Sweden – Korea
Referee: Joel Aguilar (SLV, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Zumba (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Mora (CRC)
Fourth Official: Norbert Hauata (TAH) 

Reserve AR: Bertrand Brial (NCL)
VAR: Mauro Vigliano (ARG)
AVAR 1: Abdulrahman Al Jassim (QAT)
AVAR 2: Taleb Al Marri (QAT)
AVAR 3: Daniele Orsato (ITA)

Belgium – Panama
Referee: Janny Sikazwe (ZAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Jerson Dos Santos (ANG)
Assistant Referee 2: Zakhele Siwela (RSA)
Fourth Official: Ryuji Sato (JPN)
Reserve AR: Hiroshi Yamauchi (JPN)
VAR: Bastian Dankert (GER)
AVAR 1: Felix Zwayer (GER)
AVAR 2: Sander van Roekel (NED)
AVAR 3: Danny Makkelie (NED)

Tunisia – England
Referee: Wilmar Roldan (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Alexander Guzman (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Cristian de la Cruz (COL)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Montero (CRC)
Reserve AR: Corey Rockwell (USA)
VAR: Sandro Ricci (BRA)
AVAR 1: Gerry Vargas (BOL)
AVAR 2: Emerson de Carvalho (BRA)
AVAR 3: Tiago Martins (POR)

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Matches 9-11)

17 June 2018

Costa Rica – Serbia
Referee: Malang Diedhiou (SEN, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Djibril Camara (SEN)
Assistant Referee 2: El Hadji Samba (SEN)
Fourth Official: Bamlak Tessema (ETH) 

Reserve AR: Tikhon Kalugin (RUS)
VAR: Clement Turpin (FRA)
AVAR 1: Pawel Gil (POL)
AVAR 2: Cyril Gringore (FRA)
AVAR 3: Artur Dias (POR)

Germany – Mexico
Referee: Alireza Faghani (IRN)
Assistant Referee 1: Reza Sokhandan (IRN)
Assistant Referee 2: Mohammadreza Mansouri (IRN)
Fourth Official: Mohammed Abdulla (UAE)
Reserve AR: Mohamed Al-Hammadi (UAE)
VAR: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
AVAR 1: Wilton Sampaio (BRA)
AVAR 2: Carlos Astroza (CHI)
AVAR 3: Mark Geiger (USA)

Brazil – Switzerland
Referee: Cesar Ramos (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Marvin Torrentera (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Miguel Hernandez (MEX)
Fourth Official: John Pitti (PAN)
Reserve AR: Gabriel Victoria (PAN)
VAR: Paolo Valeri (ITA)
AVAR 1: Mauro Vigliano (ARG)
AVAR 2: Elenito Di Liberatore (ITA)
AVAR 3: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Matches 5-8)

16 June 2018

France – Australia
Referee: Andres Cunha (URU, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Nicolas Taran (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Mauricio Espinosa (URU)
Fourth Official: Julio Bascunan (CHI) 

Reserve AR: Christian Schiemann (CHI)
VAR: Mauro Vigliano (ARG)
AVAR 1: Tiago Martins (POR)
AVAR 2: Hernan Maidana (ARG)
AVAR 3: Jair Marrufo (USA)

Argentina – Iceland
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (POL)
Assistant Referee 1: Pawel Sokolnicki (POL)
Assistant Referee 2: Tomasz Listkiewicz (POL)
Fourth Official: Wilmar Roldan (COL)
Reserve AR: Alexander Guzman (COL)
VAR: Mark Geiger (USA)
AVAR 1: Pawel Gil (POL)
AVAR 2: Joe Fletcher (CAN)
AVAR 3: Gery Vargas (BOL)

Peru – Denmark
Referee: Bakary Gassama (GAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Jean Birumushahu (BDI)
Assistant Referee 2: Abdelhak Etchiali (ALG)
Fourth Official: Mehdi Abid Charef (ALG)
Reserve AR: Anouar Hmila (TUN)
VAR: Felix Zwayer (GER)
AVAR 1: Bastian Dankert (GER)
AVAR 2: Mark Borsch (GER)
AVAR 3: Danny Makkelie (NED)

Croatia – Nigeria
Referee: Sandro Ricci (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Emerson de Carvalho (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Marcello Van Gasse (BRA)
Fourth Official: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP)
Reserve AR: Pau Cebrian Devis (ESP)
VAR: Daniele Orsato (ITA)
AVAR 1: Wilton Sampaio (BRA)
AVAR 2: Carlos Astroza (CHI)
AVAR 3: Artur Dias (POR)

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Matches 2-4)

15 June 2018

Egypt – Uruguay
Referee: Björn Kuipers (NED, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Sander van Roekel (NED)
Assistant Referee 2: Erwin Zeinstra (NED)
Fourth Official: Milorad Mazic (SRB) 

Reserve AR: Milovan Ristic (SRB)
VAR: Danny Makkelie (NED)
AVAR 1: Pawel Gil (POL)
AVAR 2: Cyril Gringore (FRA)
AVAR 3: Clement Turpin (FRA)

Morocco – Iran
Referee: Cüneyt Çakir (TUR)
Assistant Referee 1: Bahattin Duran (TUR)
Assistant Referee 2: Tarik Ongun (TUR)
Fourth Official: Sergei Karasev (RUS)
Reserve AR: Anton Averianov (RUS)
VAR: Felix Zwayer (GER)
AVAR 1: Bastian Dankert (GER)
AVAR 2: Mark Borsch (GER)
AVAR 3: Jair Marrufo (USA)

Portugal – Spain

Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)
Assistant Referee 1: Elenito Di Liberatore (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Mauro Tonolini (ITA)
Fourth Official: Ryuji Sato (JPN)
Reserve AR: Toru Sagara (JPN)
VAR: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
AVAR 1: Paolo Valeri (ITA)
AVAR 2: Carlos Astroza (CHI)
AVAR 3: Daniele Orsato (ITA)

FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group Stage (Match 1)

Argentina’s Nestor Pitana has been assigned as the referee for the Opening Match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup between Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday 12 June at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. He will be assisted by compatriots Juan Pablo Belatti and Hernan Maidana, with Sandro Ricci from Brazil designated as the fourth official. The Video Assistant Referee team is composed by Massimiliano Irrati, Italy (VAR), Mauro Vigliano, Argentina (AVAR 1), Carlos Astroza, Chile (AVAR 2) and Daniele Orsato, Italy (AVAR 3). 
Nestor Pitana is set to become the second Argentinian referee to participate in two World Cups after Norberto Coerezza, who oversaw two games in 1970 and one in 1978. Pitana is one of South America’s most experienced referees. He made his debut in the Argentinian league in 2007 and officiated his first international match in 2010. At the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, he oversaw four fixtures including France-Germany in the quarter-finals. Pitana returned to Brazil in 2016 for the Olympic Football Tournament where he was the man in the middle for the semi-final between Germany and Nigeria. A year later in 2017, he was involved in another semi-final, in the FIFA Confederations Cup between Germany and Mexico. (Source: FIFA)


14 June 2018
Russia – Saudi Arabia
Referee: Nestor Pitana (ARG, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Hernan Maidana (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Belatti (ARG)
Fourth Official: Sandro Ricci (BRA)
Reserve AR: Emerson de Carvalho (BRA)
VAR: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
AVAR 1: Mauro Vigliano (ARG)
AVAR 2: Carlos Astroza (CHI)
AVAR 3: Daniele Orsato (ITA)

FIFA World Cup 2018: Referee Media Briefing

A media briefing all about refereeing at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia took place on Tuesday, 12 June. Held at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, the briefing featured Chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee Pierluigi Collina and FIFA's Director of Refereeing Massimo Busacca, as well as referees Sandro Ricci and Ravshan Irmatov of Brazil and Uzbekistan respectively. Each reflected on what it has taken to ensure the referees, assistant referees and video assistant referees (VARs) are ready for Russia 2018, while the referee for the opening match was revealed. VARs are featuring at the World Cup for the first time and will support referees for match-changing situations, providing the assistance they need to increase fairness in the game. Questions were taken on this subject, and many others, from the assembled journalists.
Collina: “The preparation started shortly after the end of previous (2014) World Cup. Massimo and his staff worked for sure very hard. The process has been pretty long, very accurate. Officials worked very hard. Now, it is time to act, it is not anymore the time to talk or speak. All of them are eager to do that. Once we arrived here, we continued our prepration. We also organized mini-tournaments with local teams playing matches, to offer our referees the chance to get into the matches, to taste the pitch. Outcome was very good. All the teams participating to this WC have been visited and instructed about refereeing at this tournament. Our target is to have all people on the pitch speaking the same language, players, coaches, referees. We are going to announce the referee for the opener, he already knows it. The opening game will be officiated by Néstor Pitana, fourth official Sandro Ricci and then we have VARs: Irrati (ITA), Vigliano (ARG), Astroza (CHI), Orsato (ITA). I want also to say something about two circumstances occurred in last weeks: two officials selected for WC has been removed due to some allegations. They were from Saudi Arabia and Kenya. Once more, I want to underline that we are very strict with this kind of actions and we will continue to be strict in future. We are anyway very surprised about these allegations. The referees that are here deserve to be here – they’re the best. But if they make a mistake in an important match, everybody will forget what they did in the past to earn their place here and they will only think about the mistake. We have referees who are not here at the World Cup because they made a major mistake. So for them, having had VAR probably would have been a parachute and they would have been here with us. Like every other human being, referees make mistakes, but we now have the possibility to offer this human being a sort of parachute that saves his life.”
Busacca: “I can confirm you that we are working very hard since last WC edition, we want to success. We want to say that all the possibilities to prepare referees, have been done. And for me, this is the most important information. Referees are ready, they know how much important is to take very important decisions. They know the responsibility, they know what you are doing, in the right place and in the right moment, and they want to show that to everybody. We simulated many situations, also the tactics used by teams, thank to specialists who analyzed that for our referees. I can say that we are very happy about the results; every football teams are ready for this competition. We are here to give our best, to give consistency; we are looking to have good relationships with players and coaches. We showed many clips to teams about what are our expectations, so all teams received these clips and now we want to show you something about that. All the cameras working for VAR will spot everything, so it will be impossible to miss something about unsporting behavior, all these actions will be punished. Our goal is to protect the players. A foul directly targeted on a player can result in a very serious injury. So, we expect from you also a good cooperation about what to do and what to avoid in every second of the game. About DOGSO, you know, almost two years rules have been changed. The change is about the fouls inside the area and not outside. We still have the possibility to show RC inside the area when the challenge is not targeted on the ball: pushing, holding, this remains RC. Referees and teams have that very clear." Simulations this time will be impossible to miss. We will take the needed time to take decisions, no doubts that all situations will be punished. There is a way to discuss with referee, if a player will face the referee in not appropriate manner, he will be surely booked. We will have a very good support by VAR also in case of offside: active positions, line of visions, everything will be analyzed by VAR officials, to ensure that a correct decision on the pitch has been taken. For most of these situations shown in our clips, we have a "black or white" decision, so everything is clear. However, there will be also situations open to interpretation. We call it "grey area"; there can't be always a perfect explanation.” 
Collina: “Nowadays for referees it is more and more important to study tactics of the teams. We implemented in our staff some coaches to give referees feedbacks, information, about the tactics played by teams. Every referee will be able to get information about the teams involved in his games, in order to anticipate and know that on the pitch.”
Busacca: “Next topic, VAR. We have here Roberto Rosetti, VAR specialist, he worked for us in the last two years, from 2016. We are ready, referees are ready to take very important decisions in cooperation with VAR. Big support from VAR. We played football before it, and we committed many mistakes. Some situations are really difficult and now we can say that technology can support / prevent such situations. Intervention by VAR is not a final decision, referee can have a look to video, before communicating what he has seen and assessed on the pitch. This can change the history, especially when situations are clearly black and white ones. It is important to understand the concept of "black and white" situations. Offside is a very diffcult topic, for this reason we committed many evident mistakes in recent times. Now, technology is the big help. Imagine in this World Cup a team wins 1-0 with an offside goal: you will not accept that now this has been solved. Incredible mistakes by assistant referees will not happen. You will discover the offside and punish it.”
Collina: “Assistant referees have been informed to keep their flags down when there will be tight offside positions to be assessed and promising attacks. This will make the VAR work. Once a goal will be in case scored, VAR will check it. If you will see an assistant referee not raising the flag, this won’t be a mistake, but just our instruction.”
Busacca: “We want to prevent such situations; in past it was very difficult. For that reason we did mistakes. Now violent conducts and such behaviors will be very clear. More the mistake will be clear, more we will be fast in correcting it. All the minutes used for VAR, will be added in injury time. So we will not lose any second.”

Referee Sandro Ricci (Brazil)
“I can assure you that we are ready. We are looking forward to starting because we love training but we love officiating more. Same as the players – they like to train, they need to train, but they like to play. We have 64 matches and we have been preparing a lot. Our goal is that VAR will not need to be used – we hope referees can solve all the problems on the field.”

Referee Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
“We have very good support from our friends in the VAR team. As human beings, we cannot always see everything. VAR could be excellent support to the referee to eliminate bad behaviour. In football, it’s all about having respect for each other.”

Source: FIFA

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 Qualifiers – UEFA (Matchday 7, II)

11-12 June 2018

Poland – Scotland
Referee: Stephanie Frappart (FRA, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Manuela Nicolosi (FRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Solenne Bartnik (FRA)
Fourth Official: Karolina Skalska (POL)

Iceland – Slovenia
Referee: Shona Shukrula (NED)
Assistant Referee 1: Franca Overtoom (NED)
Assistant Referee 2: Diana Snoeren (NED)
Fourth Official: Briet Bragadottir (ISL)

Belarus – Switzerland
Referee: Viola Raudziņa (LVA)
Assistant Referee 1: Diana Vanaga (LVA)
Assistant Referee 2: Liga Didriķe (LVA)
Fourth Official: Alena Karas (BLR)

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Kazakhstan
Referee: Reelika Turi (EST)
Assistant Referee 1: Karolin Kaivoja (EST)
Assistant Referee 2: Anni Koppel (EST)
Fourth Official: Merima Homarac (BIH)

Czech Republic – Faroe Islands
Referee: Eleni Antoniou (GRE)
Assistant Referee 1: Chrysoula Kourompylia (GRE)
Assistant Referee 2: Panagiota Koutsoumpou (GRE)
Fourth Official: Jana Šauflová (CZE)

Denmark – Hungary
Referee: Petra Pavlikova (SVK)
Assistant Referee 1: Slavomira Majkuthová (SVK)
Assistant Referee 2: Katarina Smolikova (SVK)
Fourth Official: Oleksandra Vdovina (UKR)

Ukraine – Sweden
Referee: Rebecca Welch (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Lisa Rashid (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Abigail Marriott (ENG)
Fourth Official: Line-Maria Rasmussen (DEN)

Norway – Ireland
Referee: Esther Staubli (SUI)
Assistant Referee 1: Belinda Brem (SUI)
Assistant Referee 2: Susann Küng (SUI)
Fourth Official: Elisabeth Thoresen (NOR)

Serbia – Finland
Referee: Henrikke Nervik (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Monica Lokkeberg (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Linda Andersen (NOR)
Fourth Official: Aleksandra Kojović (SRB)

Israel – Austria
Referee: Eszter Urban (HUN)
Assistant Referee 1: Katalin Török (HUN)
Assistant Referee 2: Brigitta Makkosne Petz (HUN)
Fourth Official: May Moalem (ISR)

Romania – Portugal
Referee: Ewa Augustyn (POL)
Assistant Referee 1: Kinga Seniuk-Mikulska (POL)
Assistant Referee 2: Paulina Baranowska (POL)
Fourth Official: Alexandra Apostu (ROU)

Netherlands – Slovakia
Referee: María Martinez Madrona (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Andrada Aloman (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Miriam Morales González (ESP)
Fourth Official: Fijke Hoogendijk (NED)

Wales – Russia
Referee: Lina Lehtovaara (FIN)
Assistant Referee 1: Tonja Paavola (FIN)
Assistant Referee 2: Jenni Mahlamäki (FIN)
Fourth Official: Laura Griffiths (WAL)

Lount: From fish counter in England to World Cup AR from New Zealand

There are no British referees at the 2018 World Cup, according to FIFA. But one official was born and raised in Leicester - until a twist of fate took him to the other side of the world. If Simon Lount hadn't got lost 14 years ago, he may not have found himself at the World Cup finals in Russia. It was 2004 and Simon, then 23, was travelling through Australia and New Zealand. After spending three days at the Bay of Islands, he dropped his hire car in Auckland and went to find the ferry to Waiheke Island, where he was staying. The problem was, he couldn't find the terminal. "It was the days before Google maps," he says. It was dark, it was late, and Simon was thousands of miles from home. And then, as night drew in, he looked up and saw a woman walking a dog. 
Simon was born and raised in Thurnby, a village just outside Leicester. His dad died of heart failure when Simon was nine; he and his older brother, Anthony, were brought up by their mum. He grew up watching football - as a season ticket holder at Leicester City - and playing it, for local side Houghton Rangers and at school. "I was a centre back," the 36-year-old says. "Not always the most popular with referees." While studying for A-Levels, he worked part-time at Sainsbury's. "Stacking shelves, fish counter, meat counter, you name it. As much overtime as I could get." Can he remember how much he earned? "I can actually," he says. "£3.09 an hour." Simon went to university, studying geography at Portsmouth (while working part-time at Asda), but dropped out in his second year. "I wanted to travel, wanted to start working, wanted to do other stuff," he says. He went home, worked in sales and marketing with his brother for three years, and then, in 2004, headed for adventure Down Under. After three months working for Travelodge in Sydney, he travelled round Australia with a friend, then headed south to New Zealand. And that's when he got lost in Auckland. "I saw this girl coming towards me, walking a dog," he says. "I stopped her and said 'Excuse me, do you know the way to the ferry terminal?' "She said 'It's this way - but you won't get the next ferry. You'll have to wait until 10 o'clock [for the next one].' I thought, 'Oh well, there's nothing else I can do.' "I walked off and thought: 'She was very nice.' Within a minute, she had turned up next to me in her car - she felt really bad leaving this poor, vulnerable, simple English fellow walking the streets of Auckland in the dark!" Before being dropped off, Simon asked for her number. He and Sarah started dating, and were married the following year. "I made the ferry and got a wife at the same time," he says. Before meeting Sarah, Simon's plan was to head back to Sydney for Christmas 2004, then return to England. Instead, he stayed in New Zealand for Christmas, and went back to England for 10 days in January. He got his visas, then broke the news to his mum: sorry, I'm moving to the other side of the world. "She was pretty shocked," he says. "But happy at the same time." 
Simon was already a qualified referee - he did the course as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme in England - but hadn't refereed a senior game. While playing local football in New Zealand, Sarah suggested he started again. He refereed 70 matches in his first year, earning $25 or $26 a time (around £13). He was noticed by assessors and, by the end of that first season, was refereeing the top division's reserve team games. In 2008, he became a linesman - also known as an assistant referee - in the country's top division. After two seasons, he had a trial game to become a referee in the same league. He was a very good referee, he was told, but a better linesman. "No-one watches refereeing and thinks, 'I would love to run up and down that line with a flag in my hand,'" admits Simon. "People get into refereeing to be in the middle. To be part of the game, up close and personal, making the decisions. I was no different." But even in 2010, Simon was thinking about the World Cup in Russia. He had more chance of making it as a linesman, so he made the call - he would focus on that. In New Zealand - and almost every other country - referees and their assistants are not full-time. They earn modest amounts, and must balance refereeing with "normal" jobs. Since 2005, Simon has worked for Hafele, which supplies furniture fittings and architectural hardware. The company is "unbelievably supportive", and he can work remotely. But, he says, it is "very, very hard" having two careers. "You ask any referee around the world," he says. "For the guys in England [Premier League referees are full-time] it is their profession. For me, my profession was working for my company." Simon and Sarah also had a growing family, with their second son born in July 2012. Six weeks before, Simon was 2,000 miles away in the Solomon Islands, officiating at the Oceania equivalent of the European Championships. Was he worried about missing the birth? "It wasn't touch and go," he says. "But it was getting to that stage." As Simon's reputation grew, so did his air miles. After the Solomon Islands, his tournaments included the Rio Olympics in 2016, and the U-20 World Cup in South Korea a year later. 
Simon was part of a refereeing "team", alongside New Zealand referee Matthew Conger, and fellow linesman Tevita Makasini from Tonga. In order to build understanding, they worked the same matches. In November last year, Conger learned he had been selected for the World Cup - but that didn't mean his assistants were. Referees can be picked with their team, or on their own. In March, Simon was in a hotel room in New Zealand, after a work function, when he got a missed call from Conger, who was in the US (where he is from). Simon checked his e-mail and saw the news - he had earned a spot at the World Cup. "I was sharing a room [with a colleague]," he says. "I just rolled over and said 'Oh mate - I've got it! I've got it!" Although Simon has a British passport, and retains a semi-English accent, he is a New Zealand citizen. "It's where my children were born, it's where my wife's from, it's home," he says. And while New Zealand didn't qualify, he doesn't expect to get any England games, either. This, after all, is a man who remembers cheering on Paul Gascoigne and company in the 1990 World Cup. Simon arrived in Russia on Sunday, after a work trip to Germany. The training is hard, the pressure is huge, but he's thrilled to be there. "It's been a long journey, a lot of tournaments, a lot of training," he says. "But this was the ultimate goal." It's a long way from the fish counter at Sainsbury's, isn't it? "It certainly is," he says. How different it could have been, if, 14 years ago, he had found the ferry terminal first time round. 

Source: BBC

Concacaf referees ready for World Cup

Concacaf’s referee team, which consists of six referees, 8 assistant referees, 3 instructors and 2 staff members, is currently in Moscow putting the final touches on their preparation for the world’s stage. It is a historical moment, as never before have so many referees from the Concacaf region been selected to participate in a World Cup.
“The fact that FIFA has selected six referees and 8 assistant referees is monumental and symbolizes the confidence FIFA has in Concacaf’s match officials, as well as instructors. Concacaf can be proud of its World Cup team as they take the field to represent their families, country and Confederation,” explains Concacaf’s Director of Refereeing Brian Hall. The selected referees have been part of a stringent, 4-year selection and preparation project that has resulted in 98 match officials (35 referees and 63 assistant referees) being selected to work this prestigious championship. Referees Mark Geiger (USA) and Joel Aguilar (El Salvador), along with assistants Joe Fletcher (Canada) and Juan Zumba (El Salvador) will be participating in their second World Cup. Mexican assistant referee Marvin Torrentera, who will make his third consecutive appearance, is excited to once again participate in a World Cup. “I am honored to be given this responsibility to attend my third World Cup. The support of FIFA, Concacaf, and my federation cannot be overlooked as I anxiously await the first whistle,” said Torrentera. For Cesar Ramos of Mexico, Russia 2018 will mark his first World Cup and the fulfillment of a lifelong objective. “After 4 years of preparation, sacrifice, and sweat, my team and I are ready to step onto the field. This is a dream come true. Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to earn the right to be a World Cup referee. Now, it is our time to show the world that we understand Concacaf’s philosophy of ‘excellence’ on and off the field of play,” said Ramos. On the administrative side, Concacaf will be represented by Director of Refereeing Brian Hall (a 2002 World Cup referee) and FIFA Referees Committee member Sandra Hunt, who is a two-time Women’s World Cup referee. The road to Russia 2018 has not been easy for these referees. It has been four years and countless hours in the classroom refining their football understanding. Hundreds and thousands of whistles on the field of play. Days and weeks away from the family and job. Blood and sweat from daily training sessions to ensure that they are world-class athletes. Now, all of these sacrifices will come to fruition over the 32 days at the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018. The following selected match officials will be working their first FIFA World Cup: referees Jair Marrufo (USA), Ricardo Montero (Costa Rica), John Pitti (Panama), and Cesar Ramos (Mexico): assistant referees Frank Anderson (USA), Miguel Hernandez (Mexico), Juan Mora (Costa Rica), Corey Rockwell (USA), and Gabriel Victoria (Panama). Also representing Concacaf are technical instructors Esse Baharmast and Hector Vergara, as well as fitness instructor Erick Samayoa.

Source: Concacaf

CAF: Sikazwe could referee the World Cup final

The man who groomed 2018 World Cup-bound referee Janny Sikazwe believes the Zambian official has all the qualities to officiate the final in Moscow on July 15. FIFA Referee Instructor Felix Tangawarima, who is also a member of the Confederation of African Football Referees Committee, says Sikazwe and his team of assistants, South African Zakhele Siwela and Jerson dos Santos from Angola, will not be overawed in the global decider. They are in one of six sets of match officials from Africa that will be in attendance Russia, along with Mehdi Abid Charef (Algeria), Malang Diedhiou (Senegal), Bakary Gassama (Gambia), Gehad Grisha (Egypt) and Bamlak Tessema Weyesa (Ethiopia). However, Tangawarima feels Sikazwe's team is the best of the lot.
It was Zimbabwean Tangawarima, himself a former FIFA referee, who scouted a young Sikazwe, and has overseen the development of his career after he was given an unexpected break. "Janny is a teacher by profession, so he is someone who is a leader already," Tangawarima tells KweséESPN. "He came into the limelight by accident. In 2008 we had the CAF Under-20 Championships in South Africa and one of the referees failed a fitness test. I knew Janny from my work in COSAFA, but the rest of the CAF people didn't know him. He came into the tournament and did very well. The rest is history; he has kept on developing and kept on working hard at his refereeing. I was talking to Janny before he left [for the World Cup] and I said to him, "You have already done the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, and that is a stepping stone to another higher level final'. I told him I would not be surprised if he does the World Cup final because of his ability and his vast experience in CAF. Everybody in Africa would be hopeful that he can represent us in the latter stages of the tournament." Tangawarima, who is hugely respected on the African continent, also played a role in bringing through Siwela and Dos Santos, through the regional Southern African COSAFA tournaments. "The trio are products of our [COSAFA] Under-17 tournaments, all of them," Tangawarima said. "They started at that level, they graduated to the Under-20, our senior challenge in COSAFA. All of them have been to FIFA tournaments before. "We are happy to have made a contribution in their development and I am happy to say that they are the best in Africa. They are the best we have."
Tangawarima believes the strengths of Sikazwe lies in his endurance and game awareness. "He has great physical fitness; he is one of our fittest referees on the continent. He has an ability to move the way we want on the field of play. A referee should not just move in a random manner, positioning is very important. If the ball is at point A, then he should be at point B. If it is at point C, then he should make sure he is at point D. Janny has the ability to anticipate what could happen in the next phase of play. He can also talk to everybody in the right way." Tangawarima also believes that Sikazwe will have no problem handling the pressure of a World Cup tournament, having officiated matches in difficult, and sometimes dangerous, conditions on the African continent. "He has handled matches with more pressure than where he is going. The final of the African Nations Cup... games between Algeria and Egypt, for example. Those are very difficult games to referee, in front of big crowds with difficult players, but he has managed them very well." Sikazwe refereed the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup final between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers, and also the final of the 2017 African Nations Cup. He has also officiated in the finals of the both the African Champions League and Confederation Cup competitions.

Source: ESPN

IFAB: VAR will be able to hand out retrospective red cards

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) confirmed that the VAR can inform the referee of off-the-ball incidents even after that phase of play has ended. Players can be sent off following review and even at halftime if guilty of violent conduct, biting, spitting or making offensive gestures.
IFAB's technical director David Elleray told The Times that the rules changes are a precaution. "We do not anticipate this happening very often," he said. "However, if there is something away from the action that has been missed and it later comes to the attention of the VAR or the assistant VAR, then they can inform the referee and he can send the player off, even if it is later in the match. This would only be for serious red-card offences."

Source: ESPN

Tagliavento: “Mourinho’s handcuffs bothered me”

Paolo Tagliavento has retired from refereeing and admits his biggest mistake was Sulley Muntari’s ‘ghost goal’ during Milan-Juventus in 2012.
Tagliavento, who turns 46 in September, has officiated in Serie A for the past 14 years and was a FIFA and UEFA referee between 2007 and 2017. However, his career was marred by several controversial incidents, from testifying during the Calciopoli scandal in 2006 to his role as fourth official in the recent Inter-Juve match, although he admits not allowing Muntari’s goal will go down as his most ‘obvious’ error. “I shed a few tears when Rizzoli and the other Serie A referees saluted me. It was a moving moment,” he told Il Messaggero. “De Rossi’s hug wasn’t the only one; I had a relationship of mutual esteem and affection with many players. “I’m calm, I made my dream come true, even if I’d have liked to officiate a World Cup Final or one in European competition. Calciopoli? It was a terrible period, which fortunately didn’t last long. I was a stranger to it all, as justice has proved. Being a referee has been a school of life: at 15-17 years of age, you learn how to make decisions and grow up quicker. Mourinho’s handcuffs? They bothered me, but only for a moment. Everyone said I had managed it very well. Muntari’s goal is my most obvious mistake, today it would’ve been avoided in 1/10 of a second with the VAR. My future? I would like to put my experience into teaching new referees”.