Monday, 25 December 2017

Damir Skomina is our 2017 Referee of the Year

Slovenian UEFA Elite Damir Skomina has been elected as 2017 Referee of the Year by our blog's readers. 
The 41 years old from Koper, Slovenia, who belongs to UEFA Elite Category, has obtained 174 points, becoming our best referee of the year. 
Very likely 2017 has been the best year for him so far in his international career, in terms of performances and maybe also achievements. Starting from 2016/17 KO stage of both Champions and Europa League, he managed to ensure always very good performances: he officiated games like Real Madrid CF - SSC Napoli (CL Round of 16) and AS Monaco - Borussia Dortmund (CL Quarterfinals). A call for CL final was more than likely, but UEFA Referees Committee had different ideas. He was appointed as main referee for EL final in Solna, between Ajax and Manchester United. This was in any case another milestone in his international career. 
After that, his participation in Confederations Cup was another very important experience. He got only one game in group stage (Cameroon - Chile), but he was surely a candidate for the final.
The year for him continued with strong performances in Champions League, at first in OGC Nice - SSC Napoli (play off) and then with three very remarkable games in group stage. 
On November, differently from other UEFA top referees, he was not appointed for a WC playoff. Maybe this was just a choice of opportunity by FIFA and UEFA, however he was in the middle for very important games during the last matchdays of WC qualifiers. Then, an expected call for WC followed. 
All in all, we can say that very likely in terms of achievements the Slovenian got less than what he really deserved, but his performances have been absolutely great, and that's in my opinion the reason of his success among our readers. 

To follow as #2 on our ranking we have Milorad Mažić with 166 points. The Serbian had a very good year of officiating at top level with one major assignment: 2017 Confederations Cup final involving Chile and Germany. Good performances in UEFA matches were ensured as well. He was the only UEFA Elite referee officiating 4 CL Group Stage matches in 2017/18 beginning of the season. He got also a WC playoff, between Denmark and Republic of Ireland. Game ended 0-0 without significant issues. So we can definitely say that he deserved this remarkable achievement.

Our third placed is 2016/17 CL final referee Felix Brych, who got 156 points. In terms of performances, the German confirmed to be a very reliable and solid referee. In addition to CL final, he got a WC play off (Switzerland - Northern ireland) in which everything was kept under control. Furthermore, he was in the middle for a 2017 Club World Cup Semi Final.  We can remember that he was originally planned by FIFA to attend Under 20 World Cup in South Korea on May, but then he renounced to this tournament due to CL final's call. After that and for this reason, he was called again by FIFA as main referee for Club World Cup on December. Surely an excellent year for the German.

Outside UEFA, it is interesting to point out that Néstor Pitana from Argentina with 108 points has reached the fifth place in our ranking. He handled a WC intercontinental playoff and he officiated at 2017 Confederations Cup. In this tournament he got a group stage game and a semifinal, both were more than good performances. In terms of performances, maybe at moment he is the best CONMEBOL referee.

Our 2017 final ranking (only top 15 positions):

1. Damir Skomina (SVN) 174 points
2. Milorad Mažić (SRB) 166 points
3. Felix Brych (GER) 156 points
4. Cüneyt Çakır (TUR) 122 points
5. Néstor Pitana (ARG) 108 points
6. Szymon Marciniak (POL) 106 points
7. Björn Kuipers (NED) 103 points
8. Gianluca Rocchi (ITA) 88 points
9. Ravshan Irmatov (UZB) 55 points
10. César Ramos Palazuelos (MEX) 51 points
11. Sandro Ricci (BRA) 42 points
12. Enrique Cáceres (PAR), Alireza Faghani (IRN) 35 points
13. Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP) 33 points
14. Mark Geiger (USA) 30 points
15. Bakary Gassama (GAM) 26 points

To follow, there are other 45 referees from different countries. 

If we want to reason in terms of confederations these are the respectve "winners":

AFC Ravshan Irmatov (UZB) 55 points 
CAF Bakary Gassama (GAM) 26 points 
CONCACAF César Ramos Palazuelos (MEX) 51 points
CONMEBOL Néstor Pitana (ARG) 108 points 
OFC Matthew Conger (NZL) 5 points 
UEFA Damir Skomina (SVN) 174 points 

It is important to remember that this ranking has not the aim to be the best possible and the most reliable one, there are too many variables to be taken into account.

Thanks for your participation. We want to wish Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers! 


  1. Wow that's such a great news to see that Damir Skomina has been chosen the best referee in 2017 on this blog 😉. I hope he continues with such a high level performance also in 2018. I wish all members of this blog Merry Christmas and a happy New Year 🎄. It will be an interesting year for all football & refereeing lovers and I look forward to reading articles, your comments and insightes on this blog also in 2018 😉.

  2. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone involved in this blog... I hope 2018 is an excellent year in refereeing 🙂

  3. Happy Christmas and a Happy New year also from me to everyone. I'm looking forward to further interesting discussions with the (great) community on here in the following year and to a great footballing and refereeing year, of course.

  4. merry christmas and a happy new year!!!for sure this blog is a great alternative to 3rd team and i'm sure that it will become much better in 2018!

  5. Merry Christmas to all, my friends bloggers; I wish you Joy, health, peace and all you need and desire

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Starting from today, you can find us on facebook.
    I would have pleasure to see this link shared with your friends!

  8. According to Refereeing World, these are the referees appointed to UEFA Futsal Euro 2018 in Slovenia (30 January - 10 February)

    Saša Tomić (CRO)
    Ondřej Černý (CZE)
    Marc Birkett (ENG)
    Juan José Cordero Gallardo (ESP)
    Alejandro Martínez Flores (ESP)
    Timo Onatsu (FIN)
    Cédric Pélissier (FRA)
    Balázs Farkas (HUN)
    Gábor Kovács (HUN)
    Angelo Galante (ITA)
    Alessandro Malfer (ITA)
    Eduardo José Fernandes Coelho (POR)
    Bogdan Sorescu (ROU)
    Vladimir Kadykov (RUS)
    Admir Zahovič (SVN)
    Kamil Çetin (TUR)

    Reserve Referees:
    Vasíleios Christodoúlis (GRE)
    Josip Barton (MKD)

    Referee Observers / Instructors:
    Pedro Ángel Galán Nieto (ESP)
    Perry Gautier (BEL)
    Massimo Cumbo (ITA)
    Ivan Novak (CRO)


    1. Interesting that five elite referees are missing while there will be six (four main and two reserve) referees from first group.

  9. As I watch English Premier League matches and as the weeks go by. I am finding it harder to know what a RED CARD challenge is anymore. The referees in the league have looked truly clueless of the pay few weeks. I guess the "no bone break or no blood" measuring stick I'd being used. I fear fur the safety and well being of the players. Because the referees seem to have decided to no longer watch out for or care about player safety.

  10. Disallowed goal in Milan-Inter after VAR intervention.

  11. Premier League
    Round 21

    Saturday 30 December
    AFC Bournemouth v Everton
    Referee: Lee Probert
    Assistants: Simon Beck, Constantine Hatzidakis
    Fourth official: Andre Marriner

    Chelsea v Stoke City
    Referee: Kevin Friend
    Assistants: Adrian Holmes, Derek Eaton
    Fourth official: Jonathan Moss

    Huddersfield Town v Burnley
    Referee: Paul Tierney
    Assistants: Matthew Wilkes, Sian Massey-Ellis
    Fourth official: Michael Oliver

    Liverpool v Leicester City
    Referee: Neil Swarbrick
    Assistants: S Ledger, A Garratt
    Fourth official: Lee Mason

    Newcastle United v Brighton & Hove Albion
    Referee: Anthony Taylor
    Assistants: Adam Nunn, Lee Betts
    Fourth official: Mike Jones

    Watford v Swansea City
    Referee: Martin Atkinson
    Assistants: Stephen Child, Harry Lennard
    Fourth official: Roger East

    17:30 Manchester United v Southampton
    Referee: Craig Pawson
    Assistants: Peter Kirkup, Richard West
    Fourth official: Bobby Madley

    Sunday 31 December
    12:00 Crystal Palace v Manchester City
    Referee: Jonathan Moss
    Assistants: Eddie Smart, Andy Halliday
    Fourth official: Stuart Attwell

    16:30 West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal
    Referee: Mike Dean
    Assistants: Simon Long, Ian Hussin
    Fourth official: Chris Kavanagh

    1. Regular appointments for this weekend.
      Just to remark on Nando Vazquez's point, his actual words are impossible to agree with but he is right, but it has been an awful few weeks in detecting SFP:RCs. Even in the current matchday two more than brutal fouls have only got a YC, Madley in Bournemouth and Marriner in Newcastle.
      At Christmas seems to be (one's perception is always changed by media) the worst time for crucial mistakes in PL, and honestly no time of year is good in that regard, but I think the very many matches create problems for referees.

    2. This is not a recent problem for EPL referees this season. So it's not the "match load" that's at fault. These mistakes were also being made early in the season.
      So I'd say that it's more of an unwillingness by these men to do the right thing and justly punish the guilty/dirty players. Or maybe, they're just following orders.

    3. Yeah agreed, Premier League referees are basically quite poor at detecting SFP on the whole, absolutely you cannot ignore that.
      But also it's more of an ideological problem I think. Both clear missed RCs were defended by the 'experts' covering the matches, incredibly to my mind, and there isn't the huge criticism in the media that there would be in most other nations for these decisions. Media reluctantly accepted Moss' RC in MNC-LIV, which HAD to be a RC. Atkinson in 2015 missed an absolutely brutal RC, and was backed by an observer (who was never even a referee, I can explain more about the observing system in PL), and Clattenburg gave RC:SFP in 2016 that was surely acceptable, but over turned by the FA.
      Basically the FA from a grassroots level has this simplistic idea "two foot tackle -> RC" and not really much more. They don't consider hitting point, intensity, chances to play the ball fairly etc- so there is a too rigid idea of an SFP.
      Also I remember that Niclas recalled this phrase translated from German, "on the island (England) that isn't even a foul"- although in jest I think rather they have a point.
      So I think there are much more crucial intrinsic problems in England, leading to this too much tolerance of dangerous situations.

  12. Can we wait for the final list of FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 referees in the near future?

    1. According to info me and Arbitro Internacional received, the list published some time ago is somehow final, just some VARs will be added to that. The exact role of each referee to be determined after the meeting in February.

    2. Collina has announced that the final decision about VAR to be used at WC will be taken on March.

      So very likely the official announcement regarding the video assistant referees will be quite delayed.

    3. VAR, no doubt about it, is very much needed. However the half assed (excuse my language) manner in which it is being implemented. Along with the limited sub standard training that Referee's are receiving. Is going to bring an end result of "major failure". Add in to the mix Mr. I lack the ability to assume responsibility (Busacca) and we have a recipe for disaster.

  13. Bobby Madden will referee Rangers - Celtic today, after a good performance in Belgrade I was happy to read his name. His more personable style makes him preferred to Collum, Thomson in Scottish Premiership matches.

    1. I watched this match and this was a fine performance from Madden. I have laughed previously when comments have been made regarding his "interaction" or "player management" and this match demonstrated why. He is on another level with these skills compared to Collum and Thomson, not to mention the majority of his English colleagues.

  14. Even Gianluca Rocchi is really lenient in Inter-Lazio today. Is it normal, Chefren? :D

    1. Interesting incident regarding handball and VAR

    2. Arguments for (increased body surface, hand to ball movement) and against (deflection from short distance) handball, therefore not a clear error and not a case for the VAR in my opinion.

    3. Here in serie A we have a guideline that when the ball touches the arm after having hit another part of the body, most of the times it is common to consider the touch as not intentional. This was the reason for which Damato called Rocchi and the penalty was annulled.
      About Rocchi, this year in serie A he is still OK, but not at his best, I must admit. Many small mistakes in his games, and overall a tendency to be quite lenient.
      In European competitions he seems to habve a different approach.

    4. Close to an assist!

  15. What do you think about this RC:SFP, from the crucial match in the EFL Championship yesterday (1st vs 2nd)?

    1. Harsh decision, in my opinion wrong. The challenge was originally on the ball, then there was a contact with the opponent but this was accidental.

    2. Absolutely 100% red card. I don’t see how ”accident” is an argument. He goes in hard and endagers the safety of the opponent. Nobody forced him to make this tackle and he clearly saw the opponent. My opinion.

  16. Incredible RC missed by Moss in Crystal Palace - Manchester City during the last minutes of added time. After a penalty missed by Crystal Palace (maybe a soft call, but not wrong), there was a counterattack, Puncheon fouled the opponent with a late challenge directly on the man. I think Moss gave advantage, then after that he whistled another foul (holding) close to Crystal Palace penalty area, a correct YC was issued, but I can't believe that the previous foul went unpunished. The player from Crystal Palace suffered an injury as well after this challenge.
    Surely the physical condition doesn't help referees like Moss in following the play when actions are so quick... I must admit that.

    1. Sorry. I must correct myself, YC was issued to Puncheon as well, but definitely not enough. Crucial mistake because this was more than clear SFP.

    2. Agreed, but I think it was hard to detect even for a very athletic referee considering the position. Of course more than dangerous tackle, should have been a RC:SFP for sure. Penalty wasn't a crucial mistake but I much prefer no whistle there. But ignoring these situation, Moss whistled a strong match (9 YC in Premier League!).
      He is typical of an 'English' referee, really strong and accepted personality, quite old in age presenting a lot of experience, but weak in crucial decisions and too lenient in detecting SFP situations.
      Dowd, Wiley, Foy also counted to a similar category, only the kind of referee you tend to see in England, for better and worse.

    3. Nice answer, Mikael. I fully agree :)
      Premier League referees should improve in punishing SFP.

    4. PL refs should improve everything. Do we know what is red card in PL? Do we know what is penalty? Do we know what is punishable handball?
      Craig Pawson for example: in Merseyside derby he whistled very, very soft PK. On Saturday he missed clear, punishable handball ant didn't give PK for Man UTD. One day after Mike Dean punished handball and gave PK, and it was his clear mistake. Never punishable handball. Only in December we had lots of handballs in PK area, and most of them weren't whistled as PK. And then Dean gave such one.
      Also, PK for Crystal Palace was doubtful, too.
      For years, PL refs make numerous big, important mistakes. I think that refereeing in PL was never in such low level. Moss, Dean, Pawson, Marriner, Madley, Swarbrick - all of them are far away from the quality of the League.
      Happy New Year to all, dear friends.

    5. Now incredible offside prior Tottenham's first goal against Swansea. Very easy decision, after free kick, so obvious. VAR is needed immediately, PL refs are going from bad to worst (refs in Bundes League and Seria A also made lot of mistakes this year, but VAR corrected them many times.

  17. Mike Dean with a soft penalty for handball awarded for WBA in the 88th minute, against Arsenal:

    1. In my opinion the decision is rather wrong than correct, in any case, given that handballs are always grey areas, I think he could be supported.
      I wouldn't have called the penalty because in case of NO TOUCH by arm, the ball would have hit the body, so this wasn't an open arm / attempt to increase body's volume...

    2. Delayed reply I've been vacation but for what it's worth this is totally wrong to my taste. I know handball can be a grey area but this does. It satisfy any of the criteria.

  18. Premier League
    Round 22

    Monday 1 January
    12:30 Brighton & Hove Albion v AFC Bournemouth
    Referee: Michael Oliver
    Assistants: Simon Bennett, Daniel Cook
    Fourth official: Kevin Friend

    Burnley v Liverpool
    Referee: Roger East
    Assistants: Mark Scholes, Mick McDonough
    Fourth official: Martin Atkinson

    Leicester City v Huddersfield Town
    Referee: Graham Scott
    Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Neil Davies
    Fourth official: Anthony Taylor

    Stoke City v Newcastle United
    Referee: Chris Kavanagh
    Assistants: Peter Kirkup, S Massey-Ellis
    Fourth official: Craig Pawson

    17:30 Everton v Manchester United
    Referee: Andre Marriner
    Assistants: Scott Ledger, Richard West
    Fourth official: Paul Tierney

    Tuesday 2 January
    19:45 Southampton v Crystal Palace
    Referee: Stuart Attwell
    Assistants: Simon Long, Adrian Holmes
    Fourth official: Kevin Friend

    19:45 Swansea City v Tottenham Hotspur
    Referee: Bobby Madley
    Assistants: Marc Perry, Stephen Child
    Fourth official: Lee Probert

    19:45 West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion
    Referee: Mike Jones
    Assistants: Simon Beck, Andy Garratt
    Fourth official: Neil Swarbrick

    20:00 Manchester City v Watford
    Referee: Lee Mason
    Assistants: Harry Lennard, Matthew Wilkes
    Fourth official: Mike Dean

    Wednesday 3 January
    19:45 Arsenal v Chelsea
    Referee: Anthony Taylor
    Assistants: Adam Nunn, Lee Betts
    Fourth official: Craig Pawson

    Thursday 4 January
    20:00 Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United
    Referee: Mike Dean
    Assistants: Simon Long, Daniel Cook
    Fourth official: Roger East

    Taylor has the top match, Dean is always the name for Tottenham - West Ham which is a hot clash. Chris Kavanagh I think whistles the biggest game of his career, pretty crucial match for relegation. Jones also takes a big relegation match.