Aytekin “failed in the performance of his duties”

UEFA have acknowledged that referee Deniz Aytekin “failed in the performance of his duties” during Barcelona's comeback victory against PSG in 2017. The historic comeback, when Barca came back from a 4-0 first-leg deficit to win 6-1 on the night at the Nou Camp, finished with drama and controversy after three late goals sent Barca through. In particular, Luis Suarez winning a penalty, which resulted in Barca's fifth goal in stoppage time, was contentious and UEFA have acknowledged as such, with the referee could reportedly facing potential further penalties. 
UEFA's Disciplinary Committee, as reported by French outlet Onze Mondial, said Aytekin “failed in the performance of his duties” on 8 March 2017 in the Champions League round-of-16 clash. European football's governing body considered a demotion for the referee, and the French club also lodged a formal complaint outlining all the mistakes of Aytekin that night. It is unknown why the complaint took three years to be handled and the admittance will not come as any consolation to PSG players and fans. That year, Barcelona were knocked out in the quarter-finals by a Juventus side who would go on to lose in the final to Barca's fierce rivals Real Madrid. PSG have not gone beyond the round-of-16 since, losing to Real Madrid in 2018 and Manchester United last season. 

Source: Daily Mail

Rizzoli: Yellow cards for players not socially distancing from referees

The "new normal" in football as the sport feels its way back from the coronavirus crisis means games without fans, goals without celebrations and, in news that referees around the world will welcome, no angry swarms of players surrounding match officials to vent their frustration at a contested call: players in the Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A and the Bundesliga will face a yellow card for not socially distancing from the referee at a distance of at least two metres. The proposal comes from Nicola Rizzoli, the Italian league's chief designator, and is backed firmly by the existing rule book, which states a player can be booked for verbally disagreeing with a decision. Now, in the coronavirus age, that will be the case whether they open their mouths or not. If a player (or players) comes within two metres of a match official to have their say they will automatically go in the book under Rizzoli's proposal, which is designed to protect officials during the Covid-19 pandemic. The current regulations state that only a team's captain can approach the referee, respectfully and without any verbal abuse. That would become the norm under the proposal but it will be difficult to implement, especially in contentious decisions around the penalty areas. However, referees will have carte blanche to produce the yellow for all infractions of this sort, which will place the onus on team captains and individual players to rein in their emotions for the remainder of the season. "Was the coronavirus needed to say that players should keep their distance from the referee when they protest?” asked Marcello Nicchi, head of the Italian referees' association. (Source: AS
Refereeing designator Nicola Rizzoli assures Serie A will be able to count on VAR technology when the season resumes. There were concerns that social distancing guidelines would scupper the use of the Video Assistant Referee system during the coronavirus pandemic. “We made enormous efforts to secure everything and we will be able to resume by using technology,” Rizzoli told Rai Radio 1. “Clearly, this will also guarantee uniformity to the season overall. It will work because there will be the VAR and AVAR, plus the technology operator, while the person whose job it is to send the footage to the director will be in another room. Therefore, with only three people in the room, we can allow for social distancing, along with a Plexiglas barrier and face masks. Hopefully, that will reduce the risks to an absolute minimum.” Rizzoli is also open to the idea of five substitutions if the FIGC and Serie A accept the FIFA option. (Source: Football Italia)

Collina: “The ultimate final in the history of the Champions League”

On this day 21 years ago, 26 May 1999, United clinched arguably the club’s most famous win and one of football’s greatest ever comebacks by beating the German giants in Spain. In an extraordinary night at the Nou Camp, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men made history, fighting back from an early goal down to score twice in stoppage-time to become the first club to win the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble.
Mario Basler opened the scoring after just six minutes with a low, swerving free-kick. United tried everything to level but were frustrated by Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. There was late drama in the second half when Mehmet Scholl hit the post with a chipped effort and Carsten Jancker rattled the crossbar with an overhead kick in two wasted chances to secure the title. But there was even greater drama to come, as Ferguson made two late substitions and both of them – Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – put the ball in the net in three minutes of stoppage-time to break German hearts and secure an English victory. It’s now an iconic match, remembered for the unrivalled scenes of ecstasy at the full-time whistle, as Fergie’s United finally got their hands on the European Cup after a decade of domestic domination. 
Collina – widely regarded as the best referee of all time, who even graced the cover of Pro Evolution Soccer 3 instead of a player – was the man in charge that day. And he joined TalkSport to explain why it is the most memorable game of his entire career. “I can’t believe 21 years have passed since that game,” the Italian told TalkSport host Jim White. “It was definitely a memorable night… mainly for the last three minutes! Otherwise the match was not that great, it was a normal match, if you can say the Champions League final is a normal match. But with the three minutes of stoppage time and the two goals scored, and the trophy going from one side to another side, it made that final the ultimate final in the history of the Champions League. Until 90 minutes I thought Bayern Munich were going to win, they were better and Man United were trying to do everything, and Schmeichel even went up for a corner, they were desperate, but definitely it was a surprise for everybody. After the first goal for Man United everybody was waiting for the extra-time and 30 more minutes of a show, I think there was only one minute and something remaining of the match, but then Solskjaer scored!” 

Source: TalkSport

Gavillucci: “I was dismissed by text”

Former Italian referee Claudio Gavillucci has revealed he was ‘dismissed by text message’ and claims his colleagues ‘aren’t guaranteed by a transparent system’. Gavilucci, who has overseen 50 matches in Serie A and an additional 74 in the second tier of Italian football, hits out at the Italian Referees’ Association (AIA) in his new book called: ‘The Man in Black. The truth of an uncomfortable referee’. 
“I wrote my book because at 38 I was dismissed by AIA in a text message,” he told Radio Kiss Kiss. “I decided to get to the bottom of the case, to understand if the technical reasons behind this decision existed. I discovered many important things, among which there were grounds for discrimination. I wrote it for the sake of my job and for the love I have for football. I found the unwillingness to open up and necessity to hide something. I put my hand over the flame for my colleagues, who unfortunately aren’t guaranteed by a transparent system and it doesn’t work as it should. The honest man is the one who lives in a context of honesty.” 

Atkinson and his “roller coaster” life as top flight referee

The now 48-year-old has risen to the very top of his trade becoming a Premier League referee in 2005 and officiating the Emirates FA Cup final in 2011 as well as the 2014 EFL Cup final and 2015 Europa League final. The West Yorkshire man was most recently in the middle for Bournemouth v Arsenal in their Emirates FA Cup fourth round meeting and has answered some questions on his career and experiences to date. 
- How did you first get into refereeing and why? 
- I got involved through my local team, Drigglington Boys, I was only 15 but I was just like any other referee really – a frustrated footballer. I had a good worth ethic as a kid too and had a few paper rounds I did during week alongside the refereeing so money was a big motivator for me as well. I took my course at Leeds United, back then it was a ten-week programme, but as soon as I finished it I just caught ‘the bug’ and that was it for me. 
- Is there one moment from your early experiences of officiating that springs to mind and has stayed with you ever since? 
- I was really lucky when I first started that I had a lot of help and encouragement from those around me – I was quite mature for a 15 year old so I think that helped me. But I learned from a really early age how to deal with players and how to hold my own because it is very strange, when you first start out, to have people looking at you to make big decisions. 
- What are the main benefits or enjoyments that you take from officiating? 
- It’s just an absolute privilege to be involved in the game and you realize every time you walk out and you pick up the match ball. I’m so fortunate that officiating has turned into a full-time career for me but my background in the police has certainly helped me because you learn to deal with different people in all sorts of ways.
- Did you ever have specific ambitions to reach a certain level in the game? 
- At the very beginning you just want to be involved and you want to enjoy it but I am a very ambitious person and once I set out to achieve something I do my very best to see that it’s done. But I realized that not every referee gets to be in charge of an FA Cup Final or a World Cup final – it’s only a chosen few – so I knew I would have to put the work in to get where I wanted to be. You’ve got to want it, nothing in this game is handed it to you, and that is the way it should be because you’ve got to have that level of commitment to get to the top. 
- Have you ever had a role model who you looked up to, or someone who has played a part in your success as an official? 
- As select group referees, we sort of mentor off each other and there are people within the group that I am close friends with and I respect their opinions. You’re never the finished article and I’m always looking to improve and I don’t think that will ever stop. As officials we are more high-profile now than we have ever been and I think that will continue as the game evolves and social media continues to evolve. But we do a lot of work to give back to the next the batch of top referees that are coming through with workshops at County FAs and all the other things we do behind the scenes to help bring young referees through. 
- How do you keep yourself busy outside of football? 
- The job is full-time and I love everything that comes with it – I spend Monday to Friday preparing for the game, deliver it, recover and then move on to the next fixture. It is a real roller-coaster sometimes but I love it and everything that comes with it. I try and play a bit of golf with my friends too but now I’ve got ‘the bug’ for that too and it is the most frustrating game you can play so that doesn’t help much. I love my cycling too, that keeps me fit and saves me having to run, and I’ve done some big charity rides too which were well worthwhile and we raised a massive amount of money too. 

Source: The FA

UEFA elite referee Vincic caught by police while attending a wild party

According to 24ur.com, an elite Slovenian referee, Slavko Vinčić, was among those detained in the Kristal police operation, which was organized by the Bijeljina Police Administration in the Republika Srpska. It was allegedly an organized party with cocaine, weapons and prostitutes, Serbian media report. 35 people were detained in a large police operation, among the 'famous' names being starlet Tijana Ajfon. Vinčić was not among the organizers of the party, but he was present during the police raid. According to the Serbian Blic, the police were allegedly searching a weekend house in the town of Suvo polje (near Bijeljina) on suspicion of drug abuse, weapons and prostitution. According to Serbian media, four Slovenes were among those detained. The name of Slavko Vinčić stands out, a prominent Slovenian football referee who also refereed three matches of the elite Champions League this season. According to reliable information, he was brought to the police as a witness. The president of the Slovenian Referees Committee, Vlado Šajn, confirmed that Vinčić was present at the party, but that it was a combination of unfortunate circumstances and that he was "in the wrong place at the wrong time". According to our information, the referee is already on his way to Slovenia, and the police have not filed any criminal charges against him. Vinčić is said to have been on a business trip to Republika Srpska. During the investigation of the mentioned weekend house, the police officers of the Bijeljina Police Department found ten pistols, 14 packages of cocaine and nine tablets of medical drugs. In addition, they seized money of various currencies, worth more than 10,000 euros. (Source: 24ur)
Referee Vinčić claims that he did not know what kind of party he was going to and regrets that he responded to the invitation. "The biggest mistake of my life", Slavko Vinčić described the invitation to a party after a meeting with business partners in Republika Srpska. He was present at a party in the town of Suvo polje, when the police of the Bijeljina Police Department knocked on the door and found drugs, cash and weapons there. In the late evening we managed to get a telephone answer from Slavko Vinčić, who confirmed to us that he was present at the party, but that he was there by chance. "After a meeting with some business partners, we were invited to a celebration at a ranch, to which we responded," explained the referee from Maribor, who also said that most people - there were about 40 of them, he remembers - he did not know, which he later explained to the police in an informative interview. "After the police raid, we were invited to an informative interview, where I explained that I did not know these people at all, after which they gave me the green light to return home and am currently returning to Slovenia," the football referee described the unpleasant and unexpected experience. We learned from sources from the Republika Srpska that no criminal charges had been filed against him. The 40-year-old does not want to comment on his further refereeing career, as this decision is not his. At the moment, however, he primarily wants an "understanding of the family" after such an incident, which created a completely different image through the Serbian and Bosnian media. (Source: 24ur)

Cunha: "Referees get angry, but do not show it"

Uruguayan World Cup referee Andres Cunha spoke live on Instagram with Balon Latino on how he is experiencing inactivity with his colleagues, the economic situation and some of his recent experiences on the field of play. 
- What kind of personality must a referee have? 
- We are trained to keep the balance, not to pull out, and must have the ability to be calm. You get angry but it goes deeper inside, we try not to show it. Now that we have communications systems, they can tell you about your anger, but our job is to do justice. Many times we would like to remove a player from the field for being annoying, but we are here to measure their behavior, not to do what we would like. 
- Does the referee sense when a player is on the verge of being sent off? 
- When a player gets a yellow card at 20′ and continues to protest it is complicated, the referee tries to talk to the player to lower the intensity. If a player insults me, I kick him out. The player decides it, through his behaviour, not the referee. Our emotions should not influence game decisions. 
- Which referees did you like? 
- Collina, Larrionda, Baldassi, Elizondo were great referees. I paid a lot of attention to the German referee Markus Merk. There are many that have been at the top, both on continental and world level. In Russia 2018 we shared the time with Collina and he has a strong personality. 
- Is it difficult to referee in Uruguay? 
- Yes, it is very polarized. In other countries, you could go to remote cities if you have any problem. For example, if you have a problem in Rio de Janeiro you can referee elsewhere. Here, if I'm wrong for one side, I'm a fan of the other one and vice-versa. We are passionate in Uruguay and there is a lot of fervor, not only on the field, but also outside. 
- How do you handle yourself on a daily basis? 
- I am not a person to walk all day on the street, but if I have to go out I go. I have had no problems except for a look or a scream, but nothing out of the ordinary. For example, after the classics, I take care of myself for a few days or if there is a lot of controversy I try not to go out. 
- Does it hurt when people campaign so you don't referee games? 
- We are sanctioned by the Referees Committee, we see the plays and we do our self-criticism there. We do not do it publicly, but we are aware of our mistakes. Sanctions hurt us, like everyone else. To understand the referee a little more, the fans have to understand that we do not like to be wrong, because it influences the sanctions, the economic and our name. 
- How did you approach the World Cup semi-final? 
- For me, the teams on the field are blue or red; I do not notice who is wearing a certain shirt. I experienced it as one more game; after I tossed the coin, it was a divine match, the first foul came after 15 minutes of play. Both teams wanted to play cleanly. 
- Is an elimination match uncomfortable? 
- Belgium-France was demanding from the physical point of view, but in terms of discipline it was not as demanding. You only have to position yourself well. I enjoy all the games. 
- Were you surprised by any player in your career? 
- At the World Cup they gave us information about the players, their physical and technical attributes. I saw data on players that are incredible. Hazard and Mbappe have tremendous speed, which means that the referee must have a good strategy.
- What is it like to referee in Brazil? Is the environment difficult? 
- People show their feelings a lot, I like that kind of games. We have to pass many filters to reach this level. 
- Did you feel pressure? 
- It would not speak well of me to tell you that I do not feel pressure. It doesn't happen to me and it shouldn't happen to me because I would have to consider my career. Here in Uruguay I have gone through worse situations than abroad, always talking about security. It doesn't change my refereeing when there are 2 or 50,000 fans. 
- Are experienced players allowed to protest here? 
- It can happen, but the “veterans” have a different way of speaking to enter into dialogue. Many times it seems that we let them speak too much because the captain comes over five times in one half and he is not sanctioned, but a “junior” comes and is warned; the difference is in the way of each one. I try to challenge them, but I don't like to sanction. Players who are retired had other codes than now; you were never going to hear them speak badly about a referee on Monday, after the game. 
- On what do the referees depend now without activity? 
- In Uruguay, international referees have three fixed payments per month, but in March we were not paid the total amount; there were only two payments. In April it was just one. We are being very affected economically. 

Source: Balon Latino

FIFA to offer online courses to referees

Much of FIFA’s competition calendar for 2020 has been impacted by COVID-19, and three tournaments have so far been re-scheduled for 2021. Consequently, all FIFA referees' preparatory seminars for those competitions have been temporary suspended and will be rescheduled appropriately. In 2019, FIFA, together with its Member Associations and six Confederations, organized a total of 288 courses worldwide, to support refereeing development. 
Due to ongoing social distancing restrictions around the world, and to overcome the restriction to run these activities in-person, FIFA are offering online courses, with FIFA Referees Committee Chairman Pierluigi Collina and FIFA Director of Refereeing Massimo Busacca having written to all 211 Member Associations, to inform them. The circular letter explained: “Due to the major impact of the virus, FIFA has been searching for alternative ways to continue our mission of supporting and improving refereeing globally. We understand how important it is to provide solutions that allow referees to develop and train as safely and effectively as possible. Therefore, we are pleased to inform you that FIFA Refereeing will now offer courses via an online classroom tool. This solution is designed to provide ongoing support to your referees, assistant referees, video assistant referees, instructors and assessors. In cooperation with your refereeing department, online courses will be organized to best meet your needs. We hope that this new training format will be of value to you.” 
Each session will involve between 10 and 30 participants. The courses are designed to develop and train referees remotely in order to be as safe as possible. They will involve video presentations, online polls and questions-and-answer sessions. Furthermore, officials from football, futsal and beach soccer can choose how often they wish to participate. Topics will include changes to the Laws of the Game, Video Assistant Referee (VAR), challenges, handballs, penalty-area incidents, tactical fouls and offside. Additionally, football referees will cover positional subjects such as anticipation, playing the advantage, set-pieces, fast pressing and assistant referees. 

Source: FIFA

Top 10 Mexican referees of all time

These are the 10 best referees in the history of Mexico, according to sports newspaper "90min". 
1. Marco Rodriguez - "Chiquimarco" is one of the most emblematic referees of Mexican football. He debuted in 1995 and in 2000 he obtained his FIFA badge. He refereed seven Mexican football finals and three World Cups: Germany 2006, South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014, where he refereed his last game: Germany's humiliation of Brazil in the semi-finals, with a score of 7-1. He was always a referee looking for a bit of prominence and his actions went around the world when he issued two yellow cards at the same time in a match between Santos and Tigres. 
2. Armando Archundia - followed the rules of the game to the letter, which led him to be considered the best referee in Mexico at the time and to referee in two World Cups: Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010. He is the Mexican referee with the most World Cup games officiated, with eight in total. His career was from 1985 to 2010 and he refereed 14 finals of Mexican football. 
3. Bonifacio Nunez - first refereed in the First Division in 1980 and his career lasted more than 20 years. He was never oblivious to the controversy, since on many occasions he had confrontations and verbal conversations with the players and was never intimidated. 
4. Arturo Brizio Carter - was characterized throughout his career by resorting to cards; he did not let the players break the rules and this was noticed when he sent off Zinedine Zidane in the 1998 World Cup in France. He holds the record for the most red cards in World Cup matches, with seven reds in six games (United States 1994 and France 1998). He refereed more than 350 games in his career. 
5. Cesar Ramos - debuted in 2006 in the Liga de Ascenso and in 2011 he reached the Liga MX First Division. At the international level, he has refereed at the Olympic Games, the U-20 World Cup and in 2018 he was the representative of Mexico at the World Cup in Russia. 
6. Antonio Marquez Ramirez - refereed from 1964 to 1986, when he retired due to reaching the age limit at the time. He refereed matches at the Olympic Games and the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, more notoriously, in the semi-final between Argentina and Belgium, where Diego Maradona scored two goals. 
7. Felipe Ramos Rizo - made his debut as a referee in 1993 in Liga MX and went on to referee seven finals consecutively. He refereed at the Olympics, Gold Cup and the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, where he sent off two great figures of international football: Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry. 
8. Gilberto Alcala - referee with a long career in Mexican football and who, after his retirement, has served as a sports analyst. He is well remembered by Liga MX fans as he was in charge of whistling legendary matches, including the 3-3 draw between America and Chivas at Clausura 2005. 
9. Arturo Yamasaki - was born in Peru, but obtained Mexican nationality and certification. He represented Mexico in three World Cups: Chile 1962, England 1966 and Mexico 1970, where he was the referee in the so-called "Match of the Century", between Italy and Germany, which ended 4-3 in favor of the Italians in extra time. 
10. Edgardo Codesal - was born in Uruguay in 1951, but in 1980 he arrived in Mexico and later obtained nationality. He represented Mexico at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, where he refereed the final between Germany and Argentina, won by Germany with a penalty kick awarded in the last minutes. 

Source: 90min

Mental health in refereeing

Scottish FIFA referee John Beaton speaks about the challenges he’s had to overcome along with special moments in his career so far. 
- After a Rangers v Celtic match in 2018, you had a challenging time to go through. What was that experience like and how did you cope with it? 
- It was a tough time for me and had a massive impact. It was probably a turning point in terms of seeing the scrutiny that we are put under in games like that. The pressure on those games is incredible and it’s such a unique rivalry. It’s about survival for the referees, players and managers. You have to manage your way through those games as best as possible. The feeling immediately after the match was that it had gone well for us a refereeing team. But clearly the media fallout was such that the perception of my performance had very quickly changed. I was due to referee Ayr United v Falkirk at the height of the difficult period and I remember speaking to John Fleming, the Head of Refereeing at the time, who said I could have the weekend off. I said no to that offer as I felt it was really important for the younger guys coming through that they saw me fulfilling that appointment. It was important to do the game and show I wasn’t going to lie down to the criticism. I don’t remember anything about the game at Somerset Park, it was just about getting through the 90 minutes. I was glad I did it. It was a while before I was back involved with either of the teams, but I took charge of the Aberdeen v Celtic match in April 2019, that saw Celtic clinch the league title. That was a real show of faith from the Scottish FA and a boost for me personally to be appointed to the match and to do well in it. Before that period in my career, there had been a real separation between my private life and being a referee. All of a sudden, I had a situation where they merged into one. That will never go away now, but like everything in football, things move on and I’ve refereed both Celtic and Rangers multiple times since with no issues. 
- Referees are not immune to mental health issues and being affected by what is shouted at them from the stands or on social media. How important is that message? 
- The way I see it is that they are not shouting at me as a person, it is just a figure in the middle of the park. I could be wrong about that though. The referee is seen as a person that you can just shout abuse at and we just need to deal with it. To be honest you sign up for that when you become a referee and you expect boos from the crowds at certain times. I think it’s important the younger referees see that we have to deal with the mental health side of things and set an example for them coming through. They can come and speak to the more experienced ones. I’ve never not had anyone I could speak to. There’s always someone. You can get really down about things if you’ve made a mistake on the Saturday and then you’re waiting for Sportscene on the Sunday for people to criticize you. I’ve got better with that though and find ways to cope, usually by getting back on the horse and refereeing other games. 
- In what way does refereeing also improve your mental health? 
- It’s so easy to focus on the negatives and think ‘poor me, people are shouting at me’ but we get an opportunity to go to some of the best stadiums in the world to referee and it’s a brilliant job. I’ve worked in the Nou Camp, Bernabeu and Allianz Arena in front of thousands of people, made good decisions and they’ve all been brilliant experiences. The dream is that no-one speaks about the referee after the 90 minutes and 9/10 that happens. People just remember you for your mistakes. One of my first high-profile matches was between Kilmarnock v Hibernian in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals, in 2013, and it was my first big game on TV. I think Hibs won 4-2 and Leigh Griffiths scored a hat-trick. I had three massive decisions to make and they were all right. It catapulted my career and I still look back on it as it’s nice to remind yourself of the good moments. People focus on your negatives but for me, it’s good to look at the positives. 
- What’s been the most memorable moment of your career so far? 
- I was an Additional Assistant Referee with Willie Collum in Barcelona, against Olympiakos a few years ago, which was an incredible experience. During the match I spotted Gerard Piqué scoring a goal with his hand. I shouted to Willie and we decided it was a yellow card but we both then realized he’d already been booked. It suddenly dawned on us that we were going to send off the Barcelona captain in the Nou Camp, which was quite a moment. At half-time we had Messi and Iniesta saying ‘you’ve made an error’ and Willie turned to me and said ‘you better be right here’. My response was ‘it was no more than 50/50 so we’ll need to look at the replay’. Thankfully it was the right decision and those are the things you look back on. What made it more intense was that days after the game, Pique was the poster boy for the Catalan independence referendum. It that had been the wrong decision, it would have had a massive impact on my career. 

Source: SFA

Clattenburg admitted Real's offside goal in 2016 UCL final

Atletico Madrid have tweeted a response after referee Mark Clattenburg admitted rivals Real Madrid's crucial opener in the 2016 Champions League final should have been ruled out for offside. The club tweeted a "thinking face" emoji alongside images of various Spanish newspaper reports detailing the admission on Thursday. Clattenburg's comments have made headlines in Spain, where Atletico fans have long felt that Sergio Ramos' 15th minute goal - in a game that Real Madrid went on to win 5-3 on penalties - should not have stood. 
"Real Madrid went 1-0 up in the first half, but the goal was slightly offside and we realized at half-time - it was a hard call and my assistant missed it," the British referee told the Daily Mail. "I gave Atletico a penalty early in the second half. Pepe was furious and said to me in perfect English: 'Never a penalty, Mark.' I said to him: 'Your first goal shouldn't have stood.' It shut him up. People might think that sounds odd, because two wrongs don't make a right and referees don't think like that, but players do," Clattenburg went on. "I knew by saying that to him it would make him more accepting of the situation. He was a wind-up merchant and not fun to referee one bit, you had to be on your guard constantly." 

Source: ESPN

MLS referees would make "sensible" adjustments

With the growing likelihood that any 2020 MLS season return would occur without fans in the stands, Professional Referees Organization general manager Howard Webb anticipates a period where his colleagues adjust to that reality. After all, they’re accustomed to making game-altering decisions with tens of thousands of raucous fans in attendance each weekend. That'll impact referees just as it would players, and Webb said earlier via conference call that he’s hoping English referee Anthony Taylor could be a resource. Before Covid-19 suspended soccer in Europe, Taylor oversaw a closed-doors Champions League Round of 16 encounter between Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund at Parc des Princes. “One of the things we've been looking to do in the coming weeks is maybe bring in some officials who have had experience of refereeing games without fans, fairly recent experience, to share with our group what that felt like,” Webb said. “What was it like? What do you expect, and how was it different? And we're looking at doing that with a few of the guest speakers that are going to share that experience.” There's also the need for referees to be at match fitness, since they’ll need to keep pace with players at a full sprint. In preparation, Webb said, he’d hope that MLS referees could officiate scrimmages after last doing so March 8 when LAFC hosted the Philadelphia Union.
Webb also anticipates changes in game-day routines, such as increasing the number of substitutes and doing away with pre-game handshakes. “You know, these are sensible things, aren’t they, when we're coming into a phase of the game where the cadence of games could be higher than normal,” Webb said. “ These things make sense and no decisions have been taken yet with what will happen in MLS, whether they’ll use additional subs up to the maximum of five, which (the International Football Association Board) says we can do. But I'm expecting that that's quite likely and then seems to be a sensible introduction.” Whatever environment referees enter, Webb expects safety and sensibility to prevail. He cited an anecdote from the K-League in South Korea as how it all could look. “I saw a video a few days ago of a Korean game where the referee was asked by a player to pick him up by the hand and the referee said, ‘Sorry, I can't pick you up,’” Webb said. “It was quite interesting to see how that was on the mind of that particular official. And again, we'll be reminding our referees of the need to not create unnecessary contact when it doesn't need to happen and to be sensible and to maintain their personal space. But that’s pretty standard officiating anyway, not to get into a player’s face, for example.” 
He said officials are preparing for everything — including working out of a central hub if Major League Soccer goes ahead with a reported plan to bring all the teams to a location like the Orlando area when the league returns to action without spectators. Webb acknowledged that not all of his officials may be able to commit the time needed to move to a hub for a block of games. “We’re hoping as many as possible will,” he said. Officials are as keen as the players to get back to action, Webb said. “I’ve had no pushback in terms of the safety issues,” he added. “I think our workforce is fully confident that the environment will be a safe one and that testing will be available and that the necessary PPE (personal protection equipment) will be available.” Webb said officials will have to be tested for Covid-19, like the players. “It’s not possible to socially distance our officials when they’re doing their job,” he said. “And of course, the games will be meaningful when they get started again and they’ll be officiated in the normal way.” PRO officials are in contact with MLS twice a week as the league works on getting back on the field. On the plus side, Webb said his officials are well equipped to work remotely during the pandemic, given they do it during the season due to their geographical spread. The officials are taking part in virtual “training camps” and fitness regimens. MLS referees are full-time and are still getting paid although they are not receiving match fees. Assistant referees and video assistant referees are not full-time, although they get a retainer at the start of the season. They too are missing game fees. Webb said PRO staff like himself have taken a pay cut during the pandemic. 

Source: MLS

DFB: VAR intervention was "not appropriate"

The last-second penalty kick against VfB Stuttgart heated the minds of the Swabs and led to another explanation from the DFB. VfB Stuttgart is upset about the referees after their unsuccessful restart and fundamentally questions the video evidence. But what actually happened? Quite simply: although the game continued after a corner kick in added time, the game was suddenly interrupted for an on-field review, with one and a half minutes of communication between referee Sascha Stegemann and VAR Robert Kampka. 
The DFB classified the decision as "technically correct". However, the sporting management of the elite referees also admitted that there was room for discretion for Stegemann. After all, the handball was clearly not recognizable. To summarize briefly: The intervention of the VAR was not appropriate, but the process afterwards proceeded within the framework of the rules. "The arm position of the Stuttgart defender above the shoulder - the hand is stretched forward halfway and lies on the arm of the Wiesbaden striker - is to be classified as unnatural and a penalty kick is technically in order, whereby when considering the entire sequence of movements of the player cannot classify the process as being very clear. The process is therefore a scene which, in its evaluation, represents a discretionary area for the referee on the field. On the question of the need for intervention by the video assistant, we consider the on-field review recommendation made by the video assistant, against the background of the discretionary scope and therefore not a clear and obvious error by the referee, as inappropriate. This would also apply if the referee had only seen the process to a limited extent. Since it was a very detailed process, a detailed analysis by the video assistant was necessary in order to be able to illustrate the handball. This proof could be provided by a high-resolution camera. In the on-field review, it was difficult for the referee to recognize the handball, so the referee asked the video assistant several times about this proof to be absolutely certain. After confirmation by the video assistant, the referee then requested various camera angles in order to evaluate the question of 'punishable or not punishable?' As in the present case, only the referee can make this evaluation. In the end, the referee judged this process to be punishable in his discretion and, according to the rules, he correctly awarded a penalty kick." 

Source: Kicker

New competition rules in CONMEBOL

The CONMEBOL Council approved adjustments to the regulations applicable to the 2020 Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana. The modifications require that each club and other participants to adapt to the situation generated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
· Prohibition for players and officials to spit and blow their nose before, during and after the game in the competition area (playing field, benches). 
· Prohibition for players and officials to kiss the ball before, during and after the game. 
· Mandatory for players and officials to submit to temperature control before the game. 
· Mandatory for players and officials to use individual bottles of water or isotonic drinks. 
· Prohibition on exchanging/giving away shirts or any other part of the clothing with opponents or teammates from the same team or any other person. 
· Mandatory use of a mask for players and officials in the technical areas. 
· The exchange of pennants or presents between both captains is prohibited. 
· If a post-match interview and/or press conference is allowed, a mask or face shield must be used. 


Referees need 21 days of training before returning to competitions

The fitness instructor of the CONMEBOL Referees Committee, Juan Carlos Albarracin, affirms that professional football referees need at least 21 days of training to regain form before facing the resumption of tournaments, since the physical demands are equal to that of footballers in official competitions.
"They will require a pre-season to avoid injuries, such as contractures and tears during the games. It will be essential for the referees to carry out a pre-season of up to 21 days as soon as the group activities are resumed to regain mobility, resistance work, because all this will be very fundamental. At home they have been able to carry out training to develop strength, functional work, but not everyone has equipment to be able to perform in the best way as everyone would like." 

Source: EFE

Bundesliga: What happens if the referee is infected?

"Both the special hygiene regulations and the corona tests, as well as refereeing in front of empty stands require special preparation", said Lutz-Michael Fröhlich in an interview with ntv.de. The sporting director of the elite referees and his team have communicated a lot in video conferences with the 26 first division and 22 second division referees, discussed controversial game scenes, discussed training performances and discussed possible scenarios for when and how the season should continue could be. Now that it is clear when the ball will roll again, the referees will also take action. So far, however, they have not been tested for the Sars-CoV-2 virus "because they do not go into team training like the players," explains Fröhlich. "They get tested when they get their first assignment." This means that the referees, assistants and fourth officials will be tested for the first time a few days before their return and again the day before the game. As the season progresses, there will be a test the day before the match. The result must be available by 10 a.m. on the match day, as the DFL concept provides. "The hygiene requirements are top priority, as we also have a role model function," said Fröhlich. The referees are behaving “in the stadium, at home and during training according to the instructions of the DFL, which were also given to the clubs".
What happens if the referee tests positive? The tests the day before a match are "carried out in the most logistically convenient place," as the referee chief says. This means either at the match location, as part of the host club's test routine, or at a club that is close to the referee's place of residence, which has a home game and therefore also tests. Basically, the referees should only arrive on the match day, overnight stays should be avoided if possible. But if it should ever be necessary, "then only in hotels that meet the special hygiene requirements," says Fröhlich. In this regard, agreements have already been made with suitable guest houses. But what happens if it turns out on match day that a referee has tested positive for the virus and has to quarantine? Then who will step in for him at short notice? "It varies from case to case," explains Fröhlich. "If the venue is central, like the clubs in the west, we would be able to send a replacement in time that has a short journey. In more remote venues, for example in Freiburg or Leipzig, it will be more like that the fourth official is a Bundesliga referee who can take over the game management if necessary." However, it cannot be excluded that "in exceptional cases a second division referee will whistle a Bundesliga game". What is new is that "the referees' neutrality with the regional association is being abolished", as Fröhlich explains. Previously, the referees were not allowed to whistle a game belonging to a club belonging to the same regional association as them, but this regulation has now been suspended, at least for the time being, to enable shorter journeys. However, according to Fröhlich there is one restriction: "We will not use the referees in their place of residence or in the immediate vicinity." That means, for example, Munich's Felix Brych will not referee a game of FC Bayern, but maybe one of FC Augsburg or FC Nürnberg. Deniz Aytekin, on the other hand, will not be seen at a match of the Nuremberg team on the field, but possibly at one of the Bavarians. Fröhlich hopes that this change will be widely accepted and will be retained after the Corona crisis. In fact, it is difficult to see why professional referees should not referee games from clubs from "their" regional association. At the level of paid football, a possible bias due to regional affiliations should be largely excluded; in other sports they are already significantly further in this regard. For example, the Sochi 2014 Olympic Ice Hockey Final between Canada and Sweden was refereed by three Canadians and one American, without anyone having the idea that the referees could be biased. 
Another new feature is that the fourth officials will wear mouth-to-nose protection during the game, as is also intended for team officials and substitutes on the benches. On the other hand, there will be no corona-specific tightening of rules, as Fröhlich emphasizes: "Anyone who comes too close to the referee for unsporting reasons or triggers a mass confrontation will not be punished differently than in times without a pandemic." On the other hand, it is conceivable that the number of possible substitutions is temporarily increased to five per team in order to provide relief in view of the tight schedule. "If the IFAB approves the increase, we will decide in close consultation with the DFL and the clubs whether we will introduce them in the first and second leagues," says Fröhlich. "After all, it would be a rule change during the current season. If it were decided, it would be easy for the referees to implement it."
There will also be some changes in the Video Assist Center. The "workstations" - there are a total of ten, spread over two rooms - are shielded from one another by plexiglass walls, and on the other hand, such cutting discs are also inserted between the individual workstations of a station. "The VARs and their assistants will also come to the Video Assist Center with mouth and nose protection and wear them until they have sat down at the station," explains Fröhlich. "Only there will they remove it, the partitions offer sufficient and better protection." Instead of two operators per game, only one will also provide the best camera images. A station is now occupied by three people instead of four as before. If several games take place simultaneously as on Saturday afternoons, the VAR teams will go to their stations one after the other, not simultaneously. You do not have to be in the video center two hours beforehand as usual, the usual briefing is omitted, there is only a quick check 30 minutes before the game. The follow-up is also not carried out on site. "Nobody should be in the Video Assist Center longer than necessary," says Fröhlich. However, neither the video assistants nor the operators are tested for the Sars-CoV-2 virus, "because they are not in a competition". Should a VAR nevertheless fail, flexibility is required: "We would try to send a replacement to Cologne, but if necessary the AVAR has to step in," says Fröhlich. The referees are specifically prepared for the special features of games without an audience. "We have put together video clips from ghost games in UEFA competitions and from the game without spectators between Mönchengladbach and Cologne," said Lutz Michael Fröhlich. "Above all, the lack of background noise will be a significant difference from normality," he says. "That doesn't necessarily have to be negative for the referee, but it's unusual. There is no pressure that can come from the audience, the noise only comes from the players and the benches." Fröhlich expects that "the assessment of situations and decisions in public will be much more factual" because the audience's emotions are missing. In addition, Lutz Michael Fröhlich pleads for humility: "Other sports are idle, many livelihoods are at risk," he says. "But our referees can now go about their work again. They should be grateful for that, and they should show this gratitude when they appear, just like the players. We should send positive messages to society." It will soon become clear whether this will work. 

Source: ntv.de

FIFA Council decisions on FIFA events

Following a thorough assessment of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent recommendations made by the FIFA-Confederations Covid-19 Working Group, the Bureau of the FIFA Council confirmed the following proposed new tournament dates, subject to further monitoring: 
- FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica/Panama 2020: 20 January – 6 February 2021 (tournament to keep original eligibility criteria: players born on or after 1 January 2000 and on or before 31 December 2004); 
- FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2020: 17 February – 7 March 2021 (tournament to keep original eligibility criteria: players born on or after 1 January 2003 and on or before 31 December 2005); 
- FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2020: 12 September – 3 October 2021; 
- to hold the 70th FIFA Congress, which was originally due to take place in Addis Ababa, as an online event on 18 September 2020.

Source: FIFA

Aerosol vs FIFA

The lawsuit initiated by the Argentine Pablo Silva and his Brazilian partner Heine Allemagne, inventors of the spray, has been going on for 4 years. Lawyer Cristiano Zanin Martins takes the case forward and spoke exclusively with Olé: "In Brazil, infringing the patent law is a criminal offence." 
In these modern times where the use of VAR and technology in games is discussed, it should not be forgotten that the aerosol was the element that got into the field and broke a paradigm in soccer. Pablo Silva was the great promoter (9.15 was the commercial brand), he formed a partnership with the Brazilian Heine Allemagne and since 2013, after receiving the approval of the International Board, the spray is part of the rules of the game. 
Despite the fact that Brazil 2014 was the great World Cup debut of the spray, the death of Julio Grondona, the departure of Joseph Blatter from FIFA and the arrival of Gianni Infantino were a fatal combination. "FIFA ignores us. They never answered us again (the initial agreement was 40 million dollars)", Silva explained. In this way, in 2017 a judicial case was initiated in Rio de Janeiro against FIFA and the first instance decision is imminent. Could Infantino be arrested? Would FIFA's assets and accounts be seized? Cristiano Zanin Martins, lawyer for the former president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, is the one who is pursuing the lawsuit and spoke exclusively with Olé to give more details. 
- In the first place I want to clarify that I am the lawyer of SPUNI, of which Heine Allemagne is one of the partners (together with Pablo Silva). This company owns the patents of the aerosols for the marking of the “wall” in soccer and various negotiations took place with FIFA for several years. In the end, the entity agreed to receive the SPUNI sprays for the 2014 World Cup and it was a definitive test on the use of the product. But all the expectations they showed to acquire the patent and the payment of royalties ended in great frustration. 
- Why does FIFA continue to use the product in the tournaments it organizes? 
- There has been a legal action by SPUNI against FIFA since 2017 seeking compliance with that pre-contract for the acquisition of product patents. The case is in a Court of Rio de Janeiro. Despite the fact that a Brazilian judge recognized SPUNI's patent in 44 countries and prohibited FIFA from using the spray (NR: according to that preliminary ruling, for each match in which the spray was used since 2017 there is a fine of $15,000), they did not respect that ruling and used it in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. In addition, a separate preliminary decision of the Superior Court of Brazil allowed the use of a spray during the U-17 World Cup, which took place at the end of last year in Brazil, when FIFA could have purchased a product from the market. 
- Were they able to communicate with Infantino at that time? 
- Infantino was in Brazil watching the final and we sent him a notification requesting to clarify which product was used in this world sporting event and how it was imported to be used in Brazil. Although he received this notification at a hotel in Brasilia, he declined to provide any explanation in that regard. This information should been clarified according to the transparency that FIFA had recently promised in the commitments signed with authorities. However, they were not given. Because of that, in March of this year we asked the FIFA Ethics Committee to open an investigation and that procedure is also pending. They are two parallel actions. 
- How is the cause continuing in Brazil? 
- SPUNI already has a right recognized by the Brazilian state. Here, patent infringement can be tried as a criminal offence and can have criminal, civil and administrative consequences, with sentences of one to four years in prison. Once the patent infringement and other acts are verified, this will have serious consequences for FIFA and its leaders. This legal action is based on the damages that FIFA caused to SPUNI after having entered into agreements that were not fulfilled and for infringing patents and related rights. 
- Could Infantino go to jail and FIFA’s assets be seized? 
- This action seeks to seize FIFA’s assets and accounts since there is compensation that will have to be calculated according to all the damages that were caused to SPUNI over time. In addition, they must compensate the company for the damages it caused. With regard to Infantino, it is difficult to answer that question. What I can say is that in Brazil it is a crime to violate a patent and all those who participated in this violation are subject to receiving a criminal sentence and could even be arrested. 
- Do you think that the ruling of the Justice will be in favor of SPUNI? 
- In the next few days the first instance ruling will come out. With all the colleagues of the legal team we have a quite positive endorsement of the rights of SPUNI and we understand that the arguments that were presented have a lot of legal force. We hope to receive a favorable decision for the company so that we can continue to put pressure on FIFA. 

Source: Ole

Clattenburg: From swearing in Spanish to post-match hugs with an icon

Taking charge of football's heavyweights heaps pressure on a referee, but Mark Clattenburg looks back fondly on his encounters with legends of the game. The former Premier League official's career highlights include the Champions League and European Championships final in 2016, as well as the Olympic Games final in 2012. Those matches, as well as 292 English top-flight games, have seen him show cards to some big personalities. For Sportsmail, Clattenburg has listed the five greatest players he has ever officiated... 
Cristiano Ronaldo 
The one thing I admired above all else was his ability to raise his game when the team were down. I refereed him as a young player in the Premier League, then at Real Madrid and he always delivered. You just knew you were sharing the pitch with a truly unique player who could change the game in an instant. And I got on very well with him. When I went up the stairs to get my medal after the Euro 2016 final, he tried to grab me and give me a hug — that was the level of respect we had. I was disappointed when he got injured early in the final because the game lost a great player. But I never treated him differently from any other player and I think that's why we had a good relationship. After one game, a shirt came into my dressing room signed: 'To Mark, best wishes, Cristiano Ronaldo'. I hadn't even asked for it. It was such a nice gesture. I don't think I ever booked him — maybe that's why I got the shirt! The first time I refereed Real Madrid, I remember Iker Casillas got the ball from a corner and within three passes they had scored — I wasn't even past the halfway line! But that is what great players like Ronaldo can do. He was so quick and clinical. It's little surprise Real Madrid aren't the same team without him. I was in charge when he stepped up for the decisive penalty in the Champions League final in 2016. My only thought was: "When this is finished I need to get the match ball!" But I knew where it would soon be — in the back of the net. He hadn't played that well and I could tell he wasn't fully fit. But you just knew it would still be the Cristiano Ronaldo Show. 
Lionel Messi 
When I first refereed Messi, I was shellshocked, genuinely. It was Barcelona against Paris Saint-Germain and, being so close, I remember thinking: '"Oh my God, this is unbelievable."' When you referee, you tend to watch the ball. With him, you could lose the ball, so imagine what it was like for defenders! I had to change the way I analyzed the situation when he was on the ball. He was so skillful that opponents would try to stop him in different ways, sometimes by fouling him on the foot, sometimes with their upper body. I cautioned him in that first game against PSG for standing on an opponent's foot, but he never complained or said anything. He never engaged at all, in fact. That was just him. But, as a referee, you looked forward to sharing a pitch with Messi because you knew the game could be special. 
Luis Suarez 
My first game with him was for Ajax and he scored four. When I came home I told my friends: "What a player, he's unbelievable". He had that edge to him, a dirty side like Diego Costa, but he had such talent. I was excited when Liverpool signed him because I knew what an amazing player the Premier League was getting. He played on the edge and you had to manage that. He would always give you the verbals in Spanish. But I'd refereed all over the world and I knew the swear words, so I'd give him one or two back. That would give him a shock! People talk about the laws of the game. Yes, OK, but refereeing, for me, is more about management of the game and the players. You have to try to help the product — the game — be the best it can be. You had to know how to handle players like Suarez. If you didn't, it would cause you more problems down the line. 
Vincent Kompany 
Probably the best centre half the Premier League has seen and I had so much respect for him. He supported referees and spoke in such a respectful way. I've cautioned him and sent him off, but he would always come back and have time for you. I remember making a mistake in the first half once and coming out after half-time. He said: "Mark, players make mistakes, you've made a mistake, forget about it, let's move on." That's the type of man he was. I sent him off for Belgium against Israel for stopping an attack. It was a second yellow, he took one for the team and accepted it. A week or so later, I had the Manchester derby at Old Trafford and there was an incident in the first half where he slipped into a challenge. It looked quite bad in real time. I went over to my assistant and he said it's probably a yellow, which I went with. Kompany went off injured but grabbed me afterwards and said: 'Thank you for that, I didn't need a second red card in a week!' When I left the Premier League I got a call to referee his testimonial which, sadly, I couldn't do as I had a game in China, but that was nice of him. 
Gary Speed 
When I was a young referee trying to establish myself in the Premier League, there was a lot of pressure on me. But someone like Gary made it so much easier. He would genuinely praise decisions. Even when you made a mistake, he would tell you to move on. He would talk his way through the game and that included helping the referee. He was such a gentleman. You had other players who wouldn't help you, like Craig Bellamy, who constantly abused you during the game — that was difficult. So people perhaps don't realise what Gary did in that regard and I think that's something players now should take note of. Here was this wonderful footballer who also had it within him to help others and be a good human being. He was an awesome player, too. He could control a game from the middle of the park, score goals, defend his own goal, get stuck in, and yet I don't think I ever even booked him. He was a role model to all of us. 

Source: Daily Mail

Five substitutes temporarily allowed, VAR could be scraped

As football begins to consider resumption of competitions across the world following the Covid-19 pandemic, The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) has agreed to make a temporary amendment to the Laws of the Game based on a proposal received from FIFA seeking to protect player welfare. 
For competitions which have either started or are intended to start, but are scheduled to be completed by 31 December 2020, the IFAB has approved FIFA’s proposal to introduce a temporary amendment to Law 3 – The Players, which will allow for a maximum of five substitutes to be made per team. However, to avoid disruption to the game, each team will only have three opportunities to make substitutions; substitutions may also be made at half-time. The use of return substitutes is not an option for senior competitions. The temporary amendment comes into force with immediate effect, and has been made as matches may be played in a condensed period in different weather conditions, both of which could have impacts on player welfare. The decision on whether to apply this temporary amendment will remain at the discretion of each individual competition organizer, while The IFAB and FIFA will determine at a later stage whether this temporary amendment would need to be extended further (e.g. for competitions due to be completed in 2021). The amendment to Law 3 affects both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 Laws of the Game, with the latter coming into effect as from 1 June 2020. 
In relation to competitions in which the video assistant referee (VAR) system is implemented, these competitions are permitted to cease its use upon restart at the discretion of each individual competition organizer. However, where VAR is used, all aspects of the Laws of the Game and, by extension, the VAR protocol will remain in place. 

Source: FIFA