UEFA approves new principles for national team matches

The preparation of the national team matches is progressing against a background of difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The implementation of the UEFA Return to Play Protocol (Protocol), which includes a rigorous testing programme, is aimed at ensuring that matches can go ahead as planned. In addition, and based on the UEFA Protocol requirements, most member associations have managed to obtain from their competent national/local authorities exemptions allowing teams to travel to the match venue and their players to return to their clubs after their national team duty. However, positive Covid-19 cases from tests conducted before the matches may result in groups of players or entire teams being placed into quarantine and national associations being unable to field a team for a specific match, following a decision of the relevant competent national/local authority. Based on this situation and given the specificity of the national team competition matches, the UEFA Executive Committee - on 28 August 2020 - approved the following principles applicable to the above-mentioned competitions:
1) should a group of players of a team be placed into mandatory quarantine or self-isolation following a decision of a competent national/local authority, the match will go ahead as scheduled as long as the team has at least 13 players available (including at least one goalkeeper), irrespective of any other provision of the respective competition’s regulations (including the deadline for the submission of the list of players), provided that all players are eligible to represent the Under-21 or the relevant national team in accordance with the applicable FIFA regulations and have been tested negative as required by the UEFA Protocol;
2) if a national association is not in a position to field a team with the above-mentioned minimum number of players (i.e. 13 including at least one goalkeeper), the match will, if possible, be rescheduled at a date to be fixed by the UEFA administration, which shall also have the power to assign it to a venue which may be in a neutral country (within the territory of a UEFA member association) if deemed appropriate; in any event, the home team will remain responsible for the organisation of the match and all related costs;
3) if the match cannot be rescheduled, the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body will take a decision on the matter. The national association that is responsible for the match not taking place or not being played in full will be declared to have forfeited the match by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body unless the latter comes to the conclusion that both or none of the teams is/are responsible for the match not taking place or not being played in full, meaning the match cannot be declared as forfeited. If the match cannot be declared as forfeited, the outcome of the match will be decided by drawing of lots (i.e. win 1-0, loss 0-1 or draw 0-0) carried out by the UEFA administration;
4) if any member of the appointed referee team for a match tests positive for Covid-19, UEFA may exceptionally appoint replacement match officials who may be of the same nationality as one of the national associations and/or may not be on the FIFA list.

Source: UEFA

Staubli: "The fire for refereeing still burns"

You’d be completely mistaken if you thought that Esther Staubli might consider her appointment to referee Sunday’s UEFA Women’s Champions League final between Wolfsburg and Lyon in San Sebastian as ‘only’ another milestone to tick off in an outstanding career. Not a bit of it. “The fire still burns for refereeing and football,” says the 40-year-old Swiss match official as she prepares for her second Women’s Champions League final, having also taken charge of the 2015 decider between FFC Frankfurt and Paris Saint-Germain in Berlin. If you add the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 final between Netherlands and Denmark to her list of refereeing honours, as well as other major world and European assignments, it’s clear that the teacher at an agricultural school and keen classical music lover from Berne has fully deserved her renowned status among Europe’s female refereeing elite. 
Staubli has enjoyed a splendid journey with the whistle since she decided to take up refereeing in 2000 after featuring as a player with Rot-Schwarz Thun in Switzerland’s highest women’s division. “I felt I had reached my limits as a player,” she reflects. “I wanted to set myself new challenges in football, so I took up refereeing, and I loved it.” Consistent progress saw her rise up the Swiss refereeing ladder, and the FIFA international badge also followed in 2006. “Refereeing became a real passion for me,” she says. “I think passion for refereeing and football is an important asset for any referee who wants to be successful.” Staubli’s career has advanced hand in hand with the massive development of European women’s football over the years. “The game has moved forward considerably - physically, technically and tactically,” she says. “I’m not surprised, because of the amount of development and support work that has taken place. And women’s refereeing has also had to keep pace with this development, because the referees couldn’t afford to stay one step behind.” 'Passion' is a word that Staubli often uses to portray her refereeing life, which has also seen her officiate at matches in the Swiss men’s second division, the Challenge League, as well as acting as fourth official and video assistant referee in the domestic top-flight Super League. “You’ve got to have the passion to go to the limits in training, and want to understand and love the game,” she says emphatically. “If you want to make progress, you need mental strength and the ability to manage players on the field. I’ve never really had a role model as a referee - my coaches have been my biggest influences - I think it’s more important to be yourself.” 
Staubli’s love of football has shone through after the uncertain months when the Covid-19 pandemic halted the game across Europe. “It was obviously a difficult time, but I was glad, for example, to take part in UEFA’s online training - it helped me keep in touch with my colleagues as well as keep fit. I remember my first match when football restarted, it was a friendly in Switzerland between the Servette and Neuchâtel Xamax men’s teams. The big moment for me was when I ran out onto the natural grass pitch before the match - I must say that it was an amazing feeling, an emotional moment.” The preparation routine for Sunday’s big game in San Sebastian will include a late breakfast, a walk to relax and afternoon rest before leaving the hotel. Staubli's concentration levels will switch in fully with her refereeing team as the kick-off approaches. “I’ll be pretty focussed at the team line-up - I might allow myself a couple of seconds to savour the atmosphere, but then the concentration will take over.” What does the future hold? Staubli is already giving young Swiss female referees the benefit of her vast experience as part of the Swiss Football Association’s development programme, and there are still on-field targets to consider. “As time goes by, you learn to take things step by step, and look after your health carefully,” she explains. “And I really would love to referee at the Women’s Euro in England in 2022.” Before then, an exciting occasion awaits in Spain’s Basque Country on Sunday - and Esther Staubli hopes that the Women’s Champions League final will be a celebration of women’s football, even though San Sebastian’s superb Anoeta Stadium will not be able to welcome spectators. “It’s a good feeling to be back on the field, and it’s been a special tournament,” she says. “And I think that after the period we’ve lived through, we have to feel lucky that we have the opportunity to play football”. 

Source: UEFA

Russian VAR failed polygraph test

Information that referee Aleksey Eskov did not pass a polygraph test and could be suspended for life appeared in the Russian media on August 28. According to them, an additional investigation will soon be conducted on the referee. “I have only the information that the RFU reported on the website - that I was temporarily suspended. I haven't received any communication yet. I can’t comment on anything, since I don’t know what I’m talking about. Didn't read anything. I isolated myself from the news. We will see how this situation would develop”, said Eskov. The head of the RFU Referees Committee, Ashot Khachaturyants, promised to give his comments after the meeting with Eskov that will take place next week. The referee from Moscow had to pass a polygraph test after the first round RPL match between Spartak and Sochi. In that match, Eskov helped Kazartsev as VAR. As a result, two controversial penalties were awarded to Sochi and the game ended in a draw (2-2). After the final whistle, the owner of Spartak, Leonid Fedun, dissatisfied with the work of the referees, threatened to withdraw his team from the tournament. 
“The Referees Committee has completed its investigation into the referees of the match Spartak - Sochi, Vasily Kazartsev and Alexey Eskov. The referees have successfully passed the polygraph test following this game. I want to thank them for their cooperation. Despite this, the RFU decided to suspend Kazartsev from refereeing for an indefinite period of time", Alayev was quoted by Sport-Express. After a detailed analysis of all the controversial situation, it was decided that the second penalty against Maksimenko was awarded by Kazartsev by mistake. In the 88th minute in the penalty area of ​​Spartak there was a clash between the Spartak defender Zhigot and the Sochi midfielder Nemchenko. The awarded a penalty kick, but did not watch the video replay, trusting the opinion of VAR Eskov. He, in turn, argued that in such situations the VAR has no right to contradict the referee. The refereeing expert and the committee came to the conclusion that there was a "normal playing contact" between the players. “The Committee unanimously decided that there was no foul. At the moment of hitting the goal, Zhigot did not engage in a challenge, but blocked the ball with his left foot. Then there is a so-called “playing collision”, which could not be avoided by both players”, stated ESC expert Nikolai Levnikov. Eskov's actions were also recognized as incorrect, since the VAR was supposed to intervene in the decision of Kazartsev, who made a "clear and obvious error". "The ESC, under the President of the RFU, recommends the VAR to be more careful in assessing the key moments of the match, since the accuracy of the decision is more important than the speed of the decision", the committee said in a statement. A number of questions were also raised by the situation that occurred in the 14th minute, when the Spartak defender Maslov hit striker Zaika on the leg. Kazartsev awarded a penalty kick in favour of Sochi, also relying on Eskov. However, in this case, his decision was recognized as correct. “The referee had reasons to award the penalty kick. Despite the fact that the Spartak player first touched the ball, before that he knocked his opponent's leg with his knee. Therefore, the committee supported the referee's decision. In such cases, when the error is not clear and obvious, according to the protocol, VAR does not interfere with the actions of the refereeing team", explained Levnikov. 
Eskov, 41, is a fairly experienced referee. During his long career, he refereed 158 RPL matches. Alexey's debut in the Premier League took place back in October 2009. Also, Eskov refereed games in the European cups and matches of national teams. For example, last season he was assigned two games in the Europa League group stage. At the beginning of 2018, the Russian was invited to referee the Saudi Arabia championship match between Al-Feiha and Faisali. At the same time, the scandal that Eskov got into after the match Spartak - Sochi is not the first for him. In 2017, he refereed Zenit's debut game at a new stadium in St. Petersburg, where the home team defeated Ural (2-0). However, the guests were forced to finish the match with eight players, as the referee sent off three players from Ural at once: Eric Bikfalvi, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Roman Yemelyanov. After the game, the Ural players and coaches criticized the referee. “I understand that they were opening a new arena and Zenit should have won, but we have to play fair football. It is difficult to say what influenced the referee, why he behaved this way. Apparently, something really serious has happened”, Pavlyuchenko was quoted by TASS.
The Russian football community perceived the possible failure of Eskov on a polygraph test ambiguously. For example, the former head coach of the Russian national team and, at the moment, deputy of the State Duma Valeri Gazaev, said that referees should not be tested with a lie detector. “In this case, we show them distrust. They can make mistakes in the same way as football players. There is an RPL. There is RFU. There are expert and judicial committees. Each body must issue its own verdict. But when there are so many people working on a match, including VAR, decisions must be error-free and their actions must be consistent. But if you doubt the referee, you shouldn't even let him do to work. Again, referees don't need a polygraph. If we selected 20 people to referee RPL matches, it means that we believe them, it means that they are crystal honest", Gazaev said in an interview with RT. On the other hand, the best scorer in the history of Zenith, Alexander Kerzhakov, expressed the hope that what happened could be a lesson for other referees. “There is no smoke without fire, but I'm surprised. Apparently, something really serious has happened. If a referee violates the fair-play rules, if he is dishonest, then probably some sanctions should be applied. After all, dishonest football players and coaches are also removed. If there is evidence of Eskov's guilt, disqualification is one of the punishments that he must incur”, the ex-striker of the Russian national team noted. Finally, Andrei Budogosky, the former head of the RFU refereeing and inspection department, praised Eskov as an exceptionally decent and honest person. “I, unfortunately, do not know all the nuances and circumstances of the case. If this is true, then I am sincerely sorry that this happened. I know Eskov very well for many years, even from the time when he studied at our center, and I know him as an exceptionally decent, honest and professional person and teacher. Especially in matters of morality and ethics. I'd like to believe that a technical error was made in the investigation. Anything can be. Therefore, I am very sorry", said Budogosky. 

Source: RT

UEFA Women’s Champions League Final 2020: Staubli (SUI)

The UEFA Referees Committee has announced that Esther Staubli will referee the 2020 UEFA Women’s Champions League final between VfL Wolfsburg and Olympique Lyonnais. The match will be played at the Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastián on Sunday 30 August at 20:00 CET. The 40-year-old Swiss, an international referee since 2006, will be taking charge of her second UEFA Women’s Champions League final. Staubli was first given the honour in 2015, when she oversaw the final in Berlin, with 1. FFC Frankfurt defeating Paris Saint-Germain. Staubli has been entrusted with officiating at three matches in the UEFA Women’s Champions League this season, including the quarter-final between Arsenal Women FC and Paris Saint-Germain in San Sebastián on 22 August. The Bern native is a vastly experienced official and took charge of the UEFA Women’s EURO final in 2017, with the Netherlands taking on Denmark in Enschede. She also refereed matches at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. (Source: UEFA)

30 August 2020 
VfL Wolfsburg – Olympique Lyonnais 
Referee: Esther Staubli (SUI) 
Assistant Referee 1: Sanja Rodjak Karšić (CRO) 
Assistant Referee 2: Oleksandra Ardasheva (UKR) 
Fourth Official: Jana Adamkova (CZE) 
VAR: Jose Sanchez Martinez (ESP) 
AVAR: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoechea (ESP) 
Reserve AR: Maryna Striletska (UKR)
Referee Observer: Jenny Palmqvist (SWE)

CONMEBOL: New referee regulations for Copa Libertadores

CONMEBOL will implement a new form of appointment of referees for Copa Libertadores, in response to the circumstances derived from the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to avoid long trips, the referees will be from neighboring countries - where laboratory tests will be done before leaving - and will travel to the venues by air or land, depending on the conditions. For the referees, the bubble that will govern the teams - which must remain in the local country for a very limited amount of time - does not apply, but they must undergo the quarantine imposed and approved by each government. Once this period is over, they will stay in the country for the duration of the group stage of the tournament, waiting for the appointments for the different matches that are being in that territory. These referee assignments are possible following the changes in the CONMEBOL Libertadores regulations approved by the Council.
Selected referees and their assigned countries:
Argentina: Anderson Daronco, Bruno Arleu, Fabricio Vilarinho, Rafael Alves (BRA), Roberto Tobar, Cristian Garay, Christian Schiemann, Claudio Rios (CHI)
Bolivia: Angelo Hermosilla, Piero Maza, Alejandro Molina, Claudio Urrutia, Jose Retamal, Edson Cisternas (CHI)
Brazil: Fernando Rapallini, Patricio Loustau, Facundo Tello, Juan Belatti, Ezequiel Brailovsky, Diego Bonfa, Gabriel Chade, Pablo Gonzalez, Facundo Rodriguez (ARG) Leodan Gonzalez, Esteban Ostojich, Nicolas Taran, Richard Trinidad (URU) 
Chile: Mauro Vigliano, Darao Herrera, Julio Fernandez, Cristian Navarro (ARG) 
Colombia: Carlos Orbe, Guillermo Guerrero, Augusto Aragon, Byron Romero, Christian Lescano, Ricardo Baren (ECU), Josa Argote, Alexis Herrera, Jesus Valenzuela, Jorge Urrego, Francheskoly Chacon, Luis Murillo (VEN) 
Ecuador: Diego Haro, Kevin Ortega, Jonny Bossio, Michael Orue (PER), Wilmar Roldan, John Ospina, Miguel Roldan, Sebastian Vela (COL), Luis Quiroz, Christian Lescano, Byron Romero, Roberto Sanchez (ECU) 
Paraguay: Nestor Pitana (ARG), Rodolpho Toski, Bruno Boschilia, Kleber Gil (BRA), Gustavo Tejera, Martin Soppi, Carlos Barreiro (URU) 
Peru: Ivo Mendez, Gery Vargas, Jose Antelo, Edwar Saavedra (BOL) 
Uruguay: Juan Benítez, Jose Mendez, Milciades Saldivar, Eduardo Cardozo (PAR) 
Venezuela: Andres Rojas, Nicolas Gallo, Alexander Guzman, John Leon (COL), Flavio Souza, Braulio Machado, Marcelo Van Gasse, Bruno Pires (BRA).


Spanish AR Noval demoted over holiday photo with players

An assistant referee has said he was demoted from Spain's first division after photos emerged of him on holiday with players Dani Parejo and Roberto Soldado. Cesar Noval Font - who is also a cosmetic surgeon - has been a top flight official for the last four seasons. The photo, which was shared on social media, pictured him alongside the two La Liga stars, their partners and other friends on a yacht in Ibiza. 
"A member of the refereeing committee called and told me they'd decided to demote me," Noval told Onda Cero radio. "I haven't published any photos on social media. One of the wives of the players, who I have a really good relationship with, published it. Nowadays it's totally normal. Our friendship comes from outside football. I've only refereed Roberto Soldado in a friendly. We never coincided when he played for Granada last season... I'm friends with other footballers too who weren't on that yacht. It's ridiculous." 
Noval previously made headlines when he decided not to participate in the last 11 games after La Liga restarted, citing concerns over the health of his footballing colleagues, as well as his patients. 

Source: ESPN

Edina Alves: From soil-collector to semi-final commander

‘Damn’, thought Edina as the shrieking siren of her alarm pestered her ears at 5 a.m. The 19-year-old had only had a few hours’ sleep, her body ached from a backbreaking shift at work, and here was the drumfire that signalled another day on her hands and knees, often under the scorching Brazilian sun, filling sack of soil after sack of soil at a seeding nursery was set to start. “We were scheduled to start at 6:30am, but if we wanted to earn a little bit extra, the boss let us get there a bit earlier,” Edina Alves told FIFA.com. “It’s obviously low-paid work, so you had to fill up a lot of sacks to earn anything, and I was going to do anything to get the money I needed.” For some designer clothes? A car? Her first trip out of the state in which she was born? Not quite. 
“I’d always played futsal and football,” said the proud native of Goioerê, Parana. “I represented the county at futsal. But it’s a small county in the middle of nowhere – back in the ‘90s becoming a footballer wasn’t any sort of possibility. In 1999, my friend’s father invited me to try out as an assistant referee in an amateur game. I instantly fell in love with the adrenaline involved in officiating a football match. I knew at that moment officiating was my life. I quickly applied to do an officiating course, but it was expensive and I had no money. Everyone told me to forget it, that football was not for women, but I was willing to do anything. I was still at school in the evening, studying to become a physical education teacher, and I was [referee] training on afternoons, so I needed a job I could start early. Filling bags of soil at the seed nursery fit the bill. I would start work early, rush to training in the afternoon, then go to school. Of course it was exhausting but every day I was filling those bags of soil, I was doing so thinking, ‘This is going to help me do what I most want: referee football matches’. I did it for almost two years because everything turned out to be more expensive than I imagined. It wasn’t just the course [fee]. I had to pay for travel. Sometimes we had to travel 550 kilometres just for one class. It was every weekend." Those backbreaking endeavours felt worth it when Edina began taking charge of school matches and then amateur games in Parana state. All the while, she studied and trained towards becoming a CBF referee, and in 2007 Edina thought she’d had her big break. “The [state] refereeing director called me and said I’d been selected to take the CBF’s physical fitness examination,” she recalled. “I was so excited. I’d got myself in good enough shape to pass not just the women’s physical fitness examination, but the men’s, so I knew I would pass. But then he explained that it was to be an assistant referee. Each state could send one person to try out as a main referee, and two to try out as assistant referees, and he’d already selected a main referee. I was absolutely gutted.” Edina’s dream almost perished that day. She almost did the following year. Edina was undertaking a 500 km drive in the early hours of the morning when another vehicle whammed into her car, smashing it into umpteen pieces. “I almost died,” Edina said. “I was in intensive care for four days. Football inspired me to get through it. All I could think about was refereeing a game. It’s the first thing I asked about. The doctors said I wouldn’t be able to referee for a long, long time, but I kept pestering my boss to give me a game and eventually he gave in. Three months after the accident I was back refereeing.” 
Edina nonetheless remained undiscovered refereeing gold until a chance meeting with Sergio Correa, then president of the CBF Refereeing Committee, in 2014 – and a cheeky push from her fellow official, Neuza Back. “He asked me why I wanted to become a referee,” said Edina. “I responded, ‘It’s everything I want in my life.' “He told me that, because I was already an aspiring FIFA assistant referee, I would have to start from scratch, studying and training to be a main referee. I think he thought it would put me off, but I didn’t think twice and said ‘absolutely’. “The most difficult part was that I needed the director of officiating in Parana state to send a document to the CBF informing them of my change. He told me I should stay put, asked me, ‘Where do you think you’ll end up? You’re 34-years-old.’ “I told him it didn’t matter where I ended up, that I wanted to referee, that it has always been my dream. Thankfully he sent the document.” 
Astonishingly, just five years later, in May 2019, Edina became the first female in 14 years to referee a men’s top-flight game in Brazil. Not that she had much time to bask in that – that same month she flew out, along with her assistants Neuza Back and Tatiana Sacilotti, to work at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. And Edina wasn’t just one of 75 officials at that tournament, but one of 11 referees maintained for the quarter-finals onwards and the woman tasked with taking charge of a blockbuster semi-final between England and USA. “It was unbelievable,” Edina said of her experience. “When I thought back to everything that had happened, all I’d been through, I didn’t regret a single thing. A World Cup is a historic event. When Neuza suggested my name [in 2014], all I wanted was to be the main referee in one game in the men’s Serie A in Brazil. To be at the World Cup, I was so, so grateful. I remember on the flight to France, I couldn’t quite believe it was happening. I remember when I blew the whistle for my first game, New Zealand against the Netherlands, the feeling was amazing – that’s when I truly felt like a World Cup referee. And to be given the semi-final, between two great nations, I was so, so happy. It was beyond a dream.” Edina has more dreams before she hangs up her whistle. “I intend to carry on for another three years, four maximum. I only want to referee when I’m at my best physically and able to do my best on the pitch. “It would be incredible to go to the next Olympics – it’s something we’ll have to continue working very hard for. But my biggest, biggest dream is to referee a game at a major men’s competition.” 

Source: FIFA