Chapter 21 – Italy Vs Uruguay

There’s only one talking point from the games that took place yesterday, Luis Suarez and biting!

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Something that I thought was a thing of his past, after rebuilding his reputation last season after being banned for biting Ivannovic in 2013.

From the referees point of view if he didn’t see the incident, and neither did his assistants, regardless of any marks that are there, he can’t take action.

FIFA however, can take action.

It’s a well known fact that players will do things off the ball and out of sight of the officials. Usually it’s pushing and pulling not something as serious as biting!

When FIFA look at the footage they will surely have to charge Luis Suarez. There is talk of a two year ban. Harsh? If it was the first time he’d bitten someone then yes. However it’s not the first, it’s not even the second, it’s an incredible third time!

As a fan of football, to not have Suarez playing for two years would make the game a little less exciting, as he has an incredible talent and a great scoring record.

As an official, I would support a lengthy ban. People who constantly get bans for violent conduct should be severely punished.

I’ve seen on social media some people calling for a lifetime ban. For me I wouldn’t go to that extreme……… yet!!

Chapter 20 – Uruguay Vs England

This is the hardest blog I’ve written to date.

As an Englishman I was obviously disappointed with the result, but I’m trying not to be just a fan and say the ref was rubbish and that’s the only reason England lost!

Having said that, and speaking from a referees point of view, Carlos Velasco Carballo was poor.

He correctly cautioned the Uruguayan captain Godin for handball but he should’ve cautioned him again for a foul on Daniel Sturridge. That foul in itself could’ve been a red card, had it been deemed as violent conduct. A forearm to the throat is not something I could give just a free kick for!

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The referee obviously saw it as he gave a free kick but he failed to show a second yellow card. Why? Even ex-premier league referee Mark Halsey tweeted his shock at Godin still being on the pitch!

Some referees, I include myself in this, will not want to issue an early red as it can spoil the game. I tend to be a lot stricter in the second half than I am in the first. Something I was criticised during an assessment from an FA assessor. Sometimes though, you have to if it’s an obvious one.

But it was dissent I was letting go, trying to understand the players frustration.

A little while ago I wrote a chapter titled “A foul is a foul”. In which I stated no matter where the foul takes place it’s a foul, whether it results in a free kick or penalty. The same theory applies to cautions after fouls. Dissent is a little bit different as that’s a personal tolerance level.

There was also a heavy challenge in the second half which went unpunished. Yes the ball was won, but the angle and speed the defender came in at, could’ve caused injury. As players safety is the referees primary concern.

Steven Gerrard was correctly cautioned for a foul. Although at the time I shouted at my tele something along the lines of “get up! That’s never a foul!” Having seen the replays I must give credit where credits due and say that was a good decision.

The game finished with 1 booking for each side. There should’ve been a few more, and not just for Uruguay!

Ref rating 5/10

Chapter 19 – Cameroon Vs Croatia

Why do professional footballers act so stupid when playing in the biggest tournament of their careers? I am of course referring to the red card issued to Cameroon’s Alex Song in this group A clash.

I can almost understand a reaction like Pepe’s the other night. Furious with an opponents play acting that could lead to him being sent off that he angrily confronts that opponent and get gets carried away. Stupid, but almost understandable. Certainly not excusable.

However, the most stupid moment of the World Cup so far has to go to Alex Song.

With 5 minutes to go to the break, Cameroon must’ve been wishing for the halftime whistle to come as quickly as possible so they could regroup and try to come back from being 1-0 down. But then comes the moment that pretty much hands the win and 3 points to Croatia.

With a ball being played over the halfway line to the left hand side by Croatia, Mandzukic runs up the pitch to offer his support in the attack. He is closely followed by Alex Song. Who, for reasons known only to the Cameroon player, strikes Mandzukic in the back. The referee was in the perfect position no more than 20 yards away with a clear view.

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Possibly the easiest decision the Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca will make this summer!

There was also and incident in the last few minutes where Assou-Ekotto and Moukandjou had a disagreement and heads where shoved in Pepe style and they were pulled apart by fellow players. It was a good job the referee missed it or there could’ve been a couple more red cards!

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With the exception of the opening game, I think the standard of refereeing in this tournament has been very good. Having said that players like Song and Pepe are not exactly making life difficult for the officials!

Ref rating 7/10

Chapter 18 – Germany Vs Portugal

The level of stupidity of some players never ceases to amaze me. Yes Muller over reacted when Pepe accidentally caught him in the face but for Pepe to go up to him and shove his head into Muller’s was nothing short of stupid!

20140618-135333-50013038.jpgThis was an easy decision for the referee to send Pepe off.

But should there be consequences for players overacting? I think there should be but it’ll always be difficult to prove in the time referees have, whether a player is feigning injury or is actually really hurt.

Towards the end of last season in a previous blog I mentioned the idea of video replays or revises the day after games to assist in punishing divers. I think this could also help punish those that have been fouled but act like they’ve been hit by a sniper!

Players who roll several times or bang the floor as if in agony then get up with nothing wrong them are a real pet hate of mine! But you can’t decide to book some just because they’re not hurt!

Ref rating 7/10

Chapter 17 – England Vs Italy

Both sides had appeals for penalties turned down by the referee during this game, but did he make the right calls,

England’s shout for a penalty was a challenge on captain, Steven Gerrard. He makes a run in to the Italian area and the Italian defender comes in and knocks Gerrard to the floor.

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Fair shoulder to shoulder or a foul? For me, and I think most people this was a fair challenge and the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, was right not to award a spot kick. Gerrard was slightly off balance as the challenge came in, so was knocked off his feet and he knew that as he didn’t appeal for anything.

Italy’s penalty appeal was for handball against England right back Glen Johnson. The referee got this one spot on again. The three lions defender kept his arm down, close to his body and made no attempt to move towards the ball.

There is no doubt the ball struck his arm but it’s clearly a case of ball to hand. The Italians had every right to appeal it but when they see the replays they would’ve been so angry with the ref has he gave a penalty for that against them!

A good performance from the Dutch referee

Ref rating 8/10

Chapter 16 Spain Vs Holland

We all thought this would be a close physical game. It was definitely physical but not so close!

The penalty awarded to Spain in the first half was a good decision. It was an honest attempt by the De Vrij to get the ball but Costa turned him then jumped out the way of the challenge, as he landed Dutch player slid into him bringing him down.

Where I would like to give the referee credit is how he dealt with an off the call incident that he didn’t see. Replays show Diego Costa moving his head toward Martins Indi, although the contact was minimal had the referee seen it I’m sure he would have sent Spain player off.

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When this type of thing happens it can be difficult for the referee to deal with. The difference between amateur referees and the professionals is the pros have radio communications. But if the nearest assistant hasn’t seen it then you have angry player to calm down as you explain no one saw him receiving a head butt!

The only way to deal with this is to reassure the player that had you seen it, you would be sending the player off and offer further assurance that you will keep an eye on that player for the rest of the fans to watch out for his off the ball antics.

Referees are aware that off the ball incidents happen all the time. But if it’s not seen or heard then it can’t be dealt with. Stepping on toes, pinching, pushing/pulling, grabbing shirts are a number of things that go on in the box during set pieces but players are cleaver in the way they do it so the officials can’t see it but see the player reacting.

But the referee took his time in explaining his view and the Dutch player seemed to be calm afterwards and that was the end of it. Sometimes it can bit tit for tat until someone is sent off so for that to be avoided was good refereeing.

Ref rating 8/10

Chapter 15 – Brazil Vs Croatia

Japanese referee, Yuichi Nishimura, for me made two errors last night which the Croatians will not be happy about.

The first was issuing only a yellow card to Neymar when for me he had to dismiss the Brazilian.

When the challenge came in I thought that’s a red. I was shocked that only a caution was issued. Neymar knew exactly where Modric was, and leads with his arm and catches the Croatian with his elbow.

Who else would score the opening goal but the player who shouldn’t be on the pitch!

In the second half Nishimura awards a penalty to Brazil when Fred goes to ground under a challenge from Dejan Lovren. I thought I was a little harsh at first but thought I’d reserve my judgement until I’d seen the replays.

The referee seemed very confident as he awarded it by the way he quickly ran into the area and issued a yellow card, but the replays show that the contact on the shoulder was minimal and certainly not enough to send the Brazilian to the ground.

I thought he may have slipped but you can see he just threw himself to the ground. For me it had to be a yellow card to Fred and indirect free kick to Croatia.

Although the referee doesn’t have the replays, he was in a good enough position to see the incident.

Did Croatia have a goal harshly or wrongly ruled out in the latter stages? For me this is half a dozen of one six of the other.

I think Olic won the header fairly but it may not have been as obvious to the assistant who flagged as it was to us watching the tele.

20140613-095817-35897315.jpgA collage of the referees mistakes courtesy of the Daily Mail

Overall ref rating 5/10

Chapter 14: Brazil 2014 is here!

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So the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is upon us. One month of football and plenty of controversy awaits us, I’m sure!

As before all tournaments like the World Cup, the media and fans will be saying that refereeing needs to be consistent from start to finish. I have always said that this is almost impossible as each referee is his own person. They’ll see incidents from different angles. What one referee will consider a foul another might not.

Take for example the reputation of the English and Italian leagues. English is known for being quite physical where as in Italy players are more likely to go down under a challenge. (This isn’t necerserilly my view, it’s how I would say the leagues are perceived)

Would Howard Webb give a free kick/penalty for the same thing as Nicola Rizzoli would? Maybe, maybe not. But everyone has their view and you can’t expect everyone to referee the same!

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If FIFA were to be consistent with punishments issued to those found guilty of cheating, corruption and racism in football then our beloved game will be in a much better state!

The interesting tool being used at this summers World Cup isn’t the use of goal line technology but the use of a spray that will stop the wall from encroaching. It disappears after a short while so should be a good thing for the refs.
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I would like to end this chapter by wishing all the officials at the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil all the best.

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