Monday, 16 July 2018

2018 FIFA WC - Refereeing Analysis

World Cup is over. We can start an analysis about refereeing through the six confederations. Who has been the best referee? Who has disappointed?
Pitana will stay for sure as "icon" of 2018 World Cup: he officiated 5 games, including the opener and the final.
The Asian Football Confederation has shown us some surprises but at the same time, at least in my opinion, the most disappointment for a referee. For sure, first of all, we must talk about Alireza Faghani  success: he has been among the best referees of the tournament with four games, but his World Cup has ended in Third Place final. He has been for sure a candidate for the major final, but he has missed the last decisive appointment. In any case, not a big drama, he will remember this tournament forever. No doubts. He was not among the favorite referees for something big, indeed I had predicted him for a game in KO stage, but nothing more than that. He can be proud of what he achieved. Best Asian referee at the tournament in my opinion. What happened to Ravshan Irmatov  is, on the contrary, something very difficult to explain. The very experienced  referee from Uzbekistan has definitely lost credits after having shown a poor performance in his first game: Argentina - Croatia. Big points for improvements in disciplinary control and card management: technically, he whistled the fouls, but then he was unable, for some reasons, to identify the severity of offenses. This was not so much acceptable, indeed after the second game (a bit better than the first, but still not expected level), he was sent home. He was a big candidate even for the final, but he failed without doubts. The reasons for his ultra-lenient approach are definitely unknown. He has just confirmed the record as referee with the high number of games at WC ever: 11. In any case, that's not enough. I can't believe that this was the "real" Irmatov. Nawaf Shukralla had overall a satysfying WC, but committee maybe didn't trust him for something more. So, two group stage games were just the expected outcome for him. Mohammed Abdulla Hassan appointment for France - Peru has surprised most of us because not expected. He has shown an OK performance with a significant mistake (he booked a wrong player), in my opinion for sure he couldn't ask more than that. Ryuji Sato has been confirmed as reserve referee.

Great expectations of African refereeing for this WC were kept in Gassama's hands. However, the Gambian has not managed a good tournament, rather, after only one appearance, he has stopped his experience, at least as main referee. Why? That's the question we should try to answer: we must add that before the tournament one of his assistant referees, Aden Marwa Range from Kenya, has been removed from the panel of WC officials, due to a scandal. For sure this has not helped Gassama, but at the same time the main reason of his failure should be found in his performance: in my opinion he has not convinced the committee, relying too much on VAR, without taking a crucial decision on the pitch, it was a cristal clear penalty to be whistled without hesitation in Peru - Denmark.  Positive notes came from Malang Diedhiou: the referee from Senegal started the tournament without being too much in the spotlight, but, game after game, he managed to convince the committee: three matches, including a round of 16, are for sure a success. Maybe he himself didn't expect that. He was also assigned as fourth official in Third Place final. Zambian Janny Sikazwe has managed a solid World Cup. with two group stage games. He has been kept until a certain stage of KO phase, working also as fourth official in decisive ties. Very good for him. Gehad Grisha has officiated only one game in group stage, and maybe this can be enough for him, Difficult to think, based on the performance, that he could have expected more. Not a real disappointment, but rather it looked like he was also aware of his ambitions. Bamlak Tessema Weyesa and Mehdi Abid Charef have worked as fourth official.

In CONCACAF Mark Geiger has confirmed the expectations in terms of appointments (two group stage games and a KO appearance) but making a deep analysis and going into the detail of his performances, we can say for sure that he could have done by far better. In almost all three games, he looked to be in trouble regarding players management: he struggled to assure a decent control. The worst performance was the third game: the round of 16 between Colombia and England. With better appearances, he could have reached more. Not a full disappointment, but at the same time one must admit that we expected clearly more by him. Mexican César Ramos has had a similar WC to Geiger: two group stage games and a round of 16, the latter between Uruguay and Portugal. The Mexican has been overall quite good, but personally I didn't like his style in the third game and I think that he still needs to gain experience before getting something bigger. However, at the end, he can be proud of what he achieved, for sure this was not the minimum expected as it was for Geiger. Joel Aguilar had some problems with an assistant referee before the tournament, so for his reason he got a "mixed" team with an AR from his country and another one from Costa Rica.  This led him  to officiate only one game in the tournament: for sure a disappointment, as we expected him as least in two group stage matches, if not more, considering also his experience. The reasons of Aguilar failure can be maybe found also in his performance: like Gassama, he missed a quite clear penalty (of course, my opinion) having to rely on VAR. This was maybe not liked by committee, and for this reason, his experience ended after only one game. For Jair Marrufo this tournament has been for sure a success: we think he wasn't planned as main referee on the pitch, but he had the chance to officiate a game, with an overall good appearance in Belgium - Tunisia.  John Pitti and Ricardo Montero were confirmed as fourth officials. 

Néstor Pitana has been the "hero" of the tournament. Five appointments, the only referee to manage that, including opener and final. I have already said everything about him, and you can find an analysis in our previous pages of the blog. However, I want to remember that he was on focus by committee already before the start of the tournament, coming from an excellent background. Everything for him went at least as expected, and so he got the final. In this analysis I can just add that his last performanc yesterday, has been not so good as the previous ones, but in any case, still OK and he has managed an excellent World Cup. He will remember forever Russia 2018. Sandro Ricci from Brazil with two group stage game and a solid quarterfinal has for sure hoped to get the final, but, despite of his good performances, he has stopped his tournament after the third game. If you ask me, he was fully entitled to be a candidate for the last act, and, along with Pitana, he has been for sure the best CONMEBOL official at this WC. Enrique Cáceres with two group stage games can be maybe satisfied, but according to my opinion he could have got more. The second performance was not so good, however neither very poor. Maybe a lost chance for something more, but still overall an OK tournament for him. Andrés Cunha has been one of the surprises of this tournament: however, if you ask me, the appointment for a semifinal  was definitely something unexpected and maybe undeserved because quite early: the normal consequence of his two good group stage games, would have been a round of 16, or maybe, at maximum, a quarterfinal. Reasons for which he went throught that and he got directly this big game are unknown. He was for sure good, but the appointment has in my opinion a different explanation and we will never know more about that. In any case, making merely the analysis of his tournament, for sure a big success. No problems in his games, no clear mistakes, overall a quite good appearance. But he would have needed more experience to officiate a semifinal. Wilmar Roldán has been a big disappointment: the Colombian has failed again in confirming the expectations he was already keeping before the previous World Cup in Brazil. When the time to show the best comes, he fails. I was never impressed by him. Two games in group stage have been for sure already enough and maybe also too much. Julio Bascuñán has been the only referee from CONMEBOL working as fourth official. 

Matthew Conger was the big hope of OFC in this WC: he has officiated only one game, Nigeria - Iceland, in group stage. We expected more, at least a second appearance in group stage. However, he has been kept until the end to make further experience, even without handling further games. Maybe the reasons of the missing second appointment can be found in the fact that he missed a penalty and he had to use VAR. This happened also, as reported, in Gassama and Aguilar games, and indeed all these referees got the same management by committee. We can say that the penalty in Conger game was more difficult to spot live, AR1 could have helped as well, but I think that one must also consider the performances of the other referees. If most of the officials didn't miss any penalty in their games, maybe they deserved more a second appearance than the NZL man. Of course, this is only mi idea to explain the management by committee, but maybe there isn't a specific or particular reason and he was already planned for only one game. Norbert Hauata from Tahiti worked as fourth official.

Last confederation to analyze is UEFA:here, all the referees called for the tournament have got at least one game. We can start with some referees who got in my opinion what they expected, a regular WC: Clément Turpin and Antonio Mateu Lahoz with two group stage games can be definitely satisfied, and they couldn't have asked for more. Especially the French has had a quite good tournament, considering that he was among the least experienced there. Russian Sergey Karasev has officiated one game: this was maybe expected for the referee representing the host. Damir Skomina has had a regular WC as well, with two group stage game and a round of 16: maybe some minor mistakes in his last match, but he can be definitely happy with what he achieved. After two good group stage games, Cüneyt Çakır has been kept for a semifinal: the Turkish has got some criticisms but I think that overall he has managed another very solid appearance at WC, and he has got another semifinal, following the previous one in Brazil 4 years ago. Maybe he has been not so much "excellent" in order to get more, but the semifinal was a justified assignment. Gianluca Rocchi has had regular performance after his first game between Portugal and Spain. He has managed to keep under control his games, however, I think that he got the maximum he could reach, despite of the fact that he was kept until the end. Milorad Mažić from Serbia can be definitely proud of his WC: after a quite poor Brazil 2014, now he has been by far better, resulting among the best UEFA referees, and kept until the end. He has officiated two group stage games and a quarterfinal, the latter between Brazil and Belgium. In this occasion, there were discussions about a possible penalty to whistle to Brazil, but mostly this was not referee's faults. I think that VAR had to inform the Serbian. However, what I didn't like about his performances, was the attitude shown in his first game, South Korea-  Mexico, in which he decided to have an ultra-lenent approach, without booking players for mandatory fouls. In any case, given the guidelines of this tournament, not a big fault for referee. Dutch Björn Kuipers has been the best UEFA referee of the tournament, in my opinion. Despite of a crucial mistake in Brazil - Costa Rica, corrected by VAR, he has impressed for his skills in controlling players and keeping everything under control. He has got four games, being a contender for the final with Pitana.  On the contrary, we have had two big disappointments at this WC in UEFA: Szymon Marciniak and Felix Brych. What happened in their games is still unclear: so I wont add speculations this time, but I will report that clear penalties were missed. The Polish didn't whistle penalty in GER - SWE, while the German made a wrong assessment in SRB - SUI. After these performances, both were not appointed again. If in the case of the Polish one can still say that two group stage matches can be OK as first WC experience, the big disappointment here is with the German, who was expected to have a better WC than 2014, and he was for sure expected in KO stage. His national team was also eliminated after group stage, so what a pity for Brych, especially after an excellent KO stage in Champions League. Maybe in terms of WC, this was his last chance, but he will have still EURO 2020, maybe as last big tournament for him, to achieve something important in a major competition between national teams. 

My proposals for the best referees of the tournament and the three disappointments are the following:

Best referees
1) Alireza Faghani
2) Néstor Pitana
3) Björn Kuipers

Disappointments
1) Ravshan Irmatov
2) Felix Brych
3) Wilmar Roldán


50 comments:

  1. We are managing to organiza some polls, thank also to Soham cooperation, so just wait, follow the blog, and you will be involved!

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  2. One correction : Joel Aguilar had a mixed team comprising the Costa Rican AR Juan Carlos Mora Araya as his AR2 and not Corey Rockwell as we all fancied earlier!

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    1. Sorry you are right, I change it.

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    2. Another correction: Skomina got a R16 game, not a quarterfinal

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  3. When we give comment, sometimes we are too emotional. We are all human beings. At a certain moment we need to be at an objective level to make the evaluation of a ref. We’ve seen very good refs, but also bad ones. One conclusion: the VAR system need to be optimalised in the near future.

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  4. Pitana differs from Brych? Pitana's mistakes more important.

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  5. Best WC in the last 20 years so far in terms of refereeing (the question is, how much credit should VAR be given?). In 2002 we had some terrible performances from Moreno and Al-Ghandour, 2 incorrectly disallowed goals by Poll's AR2 and López Nieto's record-breaking card festival, 2006 was way better but Simunic's 3 YC have now their place in WC history hahaha, I don't blame Ivanov for Nuremberg's battle, 2010 we had Lampard's no-goal & an uncalled blatant offside by Rosetti in 1/8 and a very poor performance by Webb in terms of disciplinary control (biased comment, I'm Spaniard), in 2014 we had a completely wrong penalty decision by Nishimura in Match 1, also a quite bad performance from Velasco Carballo in QF :/, but still better than 2002 and 2010.

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    1. Jut out of curiousity. Who do you blame for "The Battle of Nuremberg" between Portugal and Holland?

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    2. So can the same be said in regards to Geiger in ENG v COL?

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    3. Mostly yes! Almost all referees would face trouble there!

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    4. I disagree. The referee plays a huge part in those disasters. Whether it be an overly lenient approach which leads to a match getting out of control. Where the Referee is unable to reign it back in. Or as in Geiger's case. Just a complete lack of authority, presence and acceptance.

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    5. That's after the situation got so heated... Of course Geiger didn't have the qualities to deal best with the situation... My point is that with any other referee as well the situation would get heated because Colombian players played supremely dirty... What another referee would have done differently there is calming the situation down more quickly than Geiger did... That's of course down to the attributes and qualities of the individual referees!

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  6. Tentative top 10 referees, in my opinion:

    1) Faghani
    2) Kuipers
    3) Cakir
    4) Rocchi
    5) Ricci
    6) Pitana
    7) Diedhiou
    8) Mazic
    9) Cunha
    10) Caceres

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    1. Skomina at #11 but he could've been #10 instead of Caceres

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. According to Bjorn Kuipers, he, Ricci, Faghani and Pitana were the candidates for the final. Because Europe had the last two finals (and 15/20 in all finals), the choice was not to appoint an European referee.

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    1. Because Asia had 0/20 in all finals, they should have appointed Faghani then. 😉

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    2. The problem if that Asians and African are trusted less than the other confeds... All the Committee members didn't have confidence on Faghani for the final and hence he couldn't get it... For an AFC referee to get the WC Final, he has to be absolutely excellent and some miles ahead of CONMEBOL/UEFA referees, sadly that's how it works!

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    3. It was blatantly obvious that the Ref Comm has very little to no confidence in CAF referee's. And that is just plain wrong. The piss poor (please excuse my language) treatment that CAF referee's get is a slap in the face to all those hardworking men and women. CAF and AFC as confederation's have worked hard at improving the level of officiating within their confederations. If I was a CAF and or AFC referee. What motivation do I have? If I already know that no matter how well I do my job. I am not going to be rewarded just because I am from CAF or AFC.

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    4. AFC's Alireza Faghani had a very good tournament and can be proud of his overall performance. He needed to perform perfectly to offset the Referee Committee's lack of confidence in appointing AFC and CAF referees for the WC Final.
      Unfortunately, there was one "clear and obvious error" that Faghani missed in FRA-ARG that may have dissuaded Collina and his Committee. It was a RC for DOGSO that he missed and there was no VAR use/help. If Faghani had shown his readiness to use VAR (much like Bjorn Kuipers was accepting to use VAR in BRA-CRC and then showing humility in reversing his initial decision), then that would have eliminated any doubts from the Referee Committee regarding Faghani's suitability for the WC Final.

      Thank you to everyone for making this blog a wonderful resource and place to comment about refereeing.

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  9. All the different opinions about the handball situation in the final and other handball situations highlight the need of clearer rules, to increase consistency and fairness.

    What if the Law was worded like this:

    A direct free kick or penalty kick is awarded when the ball touches the hand or arm of a player below the shoulder:
    - inside the opponents' penalty area
    - anywhere else on the Field of Play, unless the arm of the player was held close to his body, or protecting his face from being hit by a ball moving in the direction of his face.

    This way the LOTG will make it clear that most "dubious handball goals" against the spirit of the game have to be disallowed, and make players responsible for their own actions.

    A handball is almost always the result of clumsy or uncoordinated actions by players (handballs where a player "deliberately" handles the ball in the right meaning of the word are very rare). With such an update, clumsy play, like the final incident, and balls cleared onto a player's own hand will be penalised, while coordinated actions where the player gains no advantage will pass.

    What do you think?

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    1. I am not sure, that the "protecting his face" part is necessary - this could lead again to unclear situations. Otherwise this suggestion could work well, I think.

      But in my opinion, we should rather have a more lenient interpretation. For me, only clearly deliberate handballs should be punished. So the situation in the final should then be clearly no penalty.
      Therefore the Laws can remain as they are in my opinion, but maybe the interpretation should be done similar to fouls. Penalty only, if it is a clear offence (i.e. clearly deliberate for handball), like penalties are only given for blatant holding and fouls, that bring the attacker down, but not for "small fouls".
      The nearer you get to the opponents' goal, the more strict you can be. For fouls, this normally works well, so it could also be done for handballs.

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    2. Who decides what "clearly deliberate handballs" are? We're left in the same place as we are now. With each and every referee making a judgement call when deciding what is "clear and deliberate".

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    3. Sheriff and others.

      I think that while we work to determine "clear and deliberate hand balls" are exactly, the issue I have when VAR is used. I mean what exactly is "clear and obvious" when it comes to initiating a VAR review? I would always want VAR to be used in situations like the Suarez hand ball against Ghana in WC 2014 but nothing is ever close to that obvious.

      Sometimes it seems that VAR is used for situations where "we are unsure but lets look at it for a few minutes and see what we can make of the angles". I am not sure how much I like this.

      If VAR is supposed to be used for "clear and obvious mistakes" then did Pitana make what the blog would consider a "Crucial Mistake"? On that note, how many referees on the field do you think would have called that a hand ball at live speed?

      Try to keep the thoughts objective please.

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    4. The fact that controversy still brews and that the call is still being debated over 24 hours after the final whistle. Tells me that Perisic's handling was not a "clear and obvious mistake" by Pitana. And as such, the VAR should not have intervened.

      On a side note. If the VAR officials and Pitana used slow motion to arrive at their decision. Then that is just plain wrong. Watching anything in super slow motion removes the "dynamic" factor from the incident. And slow motion can make any incident look worse and or more obvious than it really is.

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    5. Just curious but how many people on this blog would have been ok with VAR not intervening? As sheriff seems to be saying, almost everything is clear and obvious in slow motion with a thousand camera angles.

      Second, is this maybe the new standard for officiating with VAR moving forward?

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  10. Best referees
    1) Alireza Faghani
    2) Gianluca Rocchi
    3) Diedhiou

    Disappointments
    1) Brych
    2) Roldán
    3) Marciniak

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. @Sheriff, sorry I had not still read the comment... of course I deleted it!

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    3. Thank you Chefren. I accept that I've been out of line previously. But that comment was simply disgusting. Thank you again.

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    4. Rocchi enough middling.

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  11. What about Wilmar Roldan in Qatar 2022? He is still young and I don't think he is a bad referee...
    Anayway big disappointment for Felix Brych, he could be one of the biggest candidates for the final, but he failed again...

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    1. On Roldan : He had 3 very bad FIFA tournaments - 2014 FIFA World Cup, 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup... That gives one the impression that he is not for this stage, maybe someone else can use the spot better!

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    2. Are you sure Roldan was so bad in WC 2014 and Confederations Cup in 2017? He had terrible AR1 in Brazil, but I think his performances were not bad. And Confederations Cup in 2017? He had opening game and Germany-Cameroon, made he some mistakes in these matches?

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    3. Opening game was poor and Germany v Cameroon was a royal disaster!

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    4. Maybe I didn't watch these matches, I am not sure...

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  12. 1. Faghani
    2. Kuipers
    3. Çakir
    4. Malang
    5. Cunha

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  13. Best Referees
    1. Faghani
    2. Kuipers
    3. Ricci
    4. Malang
    5. Cunha/Skomina

    Disappointments
    1. Roldan
    2. Brych
    3. Aguilar
    4. Irmatov
    5. Caceres/Geiger

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  14. Who is your favorite ref for UEFA super cup Real - Atletico ?
    Marciniak ? Turpin ? Lahoz ?

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    1. Turpin, Oliver, Kralovec, Marciniak, Hategan.

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    2. Oliver for Real Madrid(in 2018-19 season)? I think, nobody will understand this decision

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    3. Why not? Like he did something wrong when he gave correct PK.

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    4. I'm not going to enter into "favourites", but I highly doubt that Mateu Lahoz will handle that match. It is usually avoided to appoint a referee from the same country as one of the teams (or both in this situation).

      However, I think he is candidate for something this season: Collina and company have not been fair in the WC with him in terms of performances (in no way Rocchi was better than him, IMO, but then see who got a KO match), but still kept him as 4th official in some good games. I expect some kind of reward for him. Just an opinion, though.

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    5. Lahoz for Super Cup Atletico-Real? No way. This is the strongest rule, the referee can't get the match where are teams from the same country...

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  15. Real-Atlético for Marciniak.

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  16. would like to see Oliver, great springboard for the Champions season that is coming

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  17. Irrati was VAR in Iran-Portugal and in the Final. He was a member of a VAR team (headed by Orsato), in Nigeria-Argentina. In all three cases VAR intervened, pushing the ref to award a penalty-kick for a dubious handball. On the other hand, when Rocchi officiated on the pitch, Italian VARs didn't divert his attention either to Costa's clear foul before he got possession of the ball and scored a goal. They also kept silent when the Layoun-Neymar incident happened. It looked like they were showing deference to their superior colleague. The same might have happened with Zwayer in the Switzerland-Serbia encounter (and I don't forget what has been said after the game).
    Having said all that about three unduly interventions in the highly subjective matter of handball interpretation, when one is looking carefully, he might detect a slight movement of Perisic's palm which could be interpreted as "deliberate handball".

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