Saturday, 7 July 2018

2018 FIFA World Cup: Officiating at Quarterfinals has been overall very good with a point for discussion

Only 4 matches to be played  on next days and then this tournament will be over. So far, after 60 games, the level of officiating is still high. But there is a big  point for discussion regarding Quarterfinals... 
Néstor Pitana (ARG) officiated the first game of Quarterfinals
Néstor Pitana, Milorad Mažić, Björn Kuipers and Sandro Ricci have been appointed by FIFA committee to handle Quarterfinals at 2018 World Cup. Overall, the level of officiating has kept a very good standard. There is only one situation in which, according to my opinion, the third clear mistake of this tournament, despite of VAR presence, has been committed. However, given the very high number of played matches  until today (60), it has been for sure a success so far. Referees, in most of the games, look to be always in control, without having troubles in being accepted. That's very good. 

We can start again with Pitana, who officiated the opener of the tournament, and did the same in occasion of the first game of this round: the clash between Uruguay and France ended with the win of European team. The Argentinian kept control without problems: the most interesting situation, under refereeing point of view, occurred in the middle of second half, when, after a moment of tension between two players, a mass confrontation started. Pitana tried to calm down players by using his experience, then after that he booked one player from both teams. This was a good management, according to my opnion, considering also the guidelines by committee. Nothing else to be reported in an overall fair  game. 

The second game of Quarterfinals, a CONMEBOL - UEFA clash involving Brazil and Belgium, has been always under the full control of Milorad Mažić. We have appreciated for sure the experience of the Serbian, who has also managed with charisma very "difficult" players from both teams, by never losing control, and being always respected in his choice. He correctly rejected some minor penalty appeals by Brazilian side, however, and this was a significant issue, a penalty incident occurred in the 56' minute was very likely missed by referee, who didn't make any signal if not the one for assigning goal-kick, following a challange by a Belgian defender on an opponent in the box. Our readers have already voted, giving their opinion. In this occasion, I want to present the results: 262 readers think that it was a clear penalty and so VAR had to intervene, for 190 people it was a situation in which play on was possible, while only  104 votes were given about the chance to consider it as a clear NO FOUL, and therefore correct play on. In my opinion, this was a clear penalty, the significant contact occurred when ball was still in play. There was a big discussion in VAR room, according to the video we were allowed to watch, at the end the main VAR, Daniele Orsato, maybe after a consultation with the other VAR members, decided to inform referee that he could have continued the game. I disagree with this decision and I think this was a clear mistake, the third of the tournament after GER - SWE and SRB - SUI. However, apart from this incident, the performance was absolutely good.

Björn Kuipers has been in charge of Sweden - England. He has not experienced troubles, showing again his top class officiating, being respected by players. The only point for discussion in this game has been an offside flag by AR1, in first half, when score was still 0-0, against Sweden. This was a mistake, however, since the situation had occurred in the midfield, the same AR can't be blamed too much in terms of VAR protocol, he was not forced to wait before waiting the flag, players were still too far away from the goal. However, the wrong assessment stays, but if this was the only "problem" of the game, you can understand how much good was the rest. 

Last officiating of this round has been performed by Sandro Ricci in Russia - Croatia, another full European clash. The Brazilian has been the first referee to officiate again a same team in this tournament, after having already taken control of a group stage game in which Croatia was there. The game has been always under full control as well, with a very crucial call before Russia's equalizer during extra time  A clear deliberate handball was well spotted, and then a goal was scored on the subsequent free kick. Well done by referee. Cards issued have been good choices.  The Brazilian has been always in control.

Now it's your turn. Please vote for the best officiating of Quarterfinal.
Poll will be closed on 09/07/18  at 09:00 CET.

2018 FIFA WC - Vote for the best officiating of Quaterfinals

Néstor Pitana in Uruguay - France
Milorad Mažić in Brazil - Belgium
Björn Kuipers in Sweden - England
Sandro Ricci in Russia - Croatia
Created with PollMaker


  1. Difficult to choose. Every single performance was great, but maybe Pitana with expected level.

    Satisfied so far, and without VAR (I mean, OFR)

  2. Sandro Ricci is vastly underrated in Brazil because he is perceived as too cold and aloof. Observers here seem to prefer loudnesss, histrionics, big gestures and shouting matches.

    After this game I finally get Ricci. He is the real deal! A very fine FIFA referee, if not ideally suíted for CONMEBOL tournaments. Parabéns, Sandro! Well done!

  3. "GER - SWE"? You mean BRA-SWE.

    1. No, he meant GER-SWE and missed penalty for Sweden. Bra-Swe didn't play at all.

    2. Yep. BRA-SUE was in my mind. Too many games.

  4. I have to disagree about penalty incident on Jesus. When first contact is made, ball is still in play, but that is not enough for penalty. Foul is made when Kompany raises his foot but at that point ball has already crossed goal line

    1. I agree with you 100% but moderators will not hear us.

    2. Of course, you are entitled to have a different opinion, however what do you think about Mazic perception of the incident? Do you think he saw at all the incident? I have also doubts about that, so it would have been a correct thing to invite him to rewatch.

    3. Well i`m not sure. If in VAR room they had same opinion as me about when foul happened, then first thing they would do after that is check position of the ball at that point, which was out. In that case it is Factual decision and not matter of interpretation so no OFR is needed. Of course it wouldnt be wrong to have OFR like in case of Geiger and Korea goal

    4. Both Mazic and VAR saw foul. Mazic decided that the significant foul contact happened after ball was out of play. The VAR's role is to determine if this is a clear and obvious error. If not, the on field decision stands.

      Cleat brushing ankle was not a foul (trifling contact at best). VAR would have determined this almost immediately. As such, play continues beyond this event.

      After that it gets interesting. The actual foul contact happened when attacker collided (with left foot) into back of defender's left leg. Using frame by frame (and several full speed versions), VAR needs to decide if THAT foul contact happened before or after ball was out of play. Although the first point of contact is when ball is virtually on goal line (3-5 cm in play), the player is still in a normal playing position. In fact, the player is still fully upright but foot is buried deeper into leg several frames later when ball is already 3-5 cm in play. All the other action (leg buckling and player launching over 2nd leg) happen after this. As such, VAR determines (correctly) that referee did not make a clear or obvious error.

      Had referee called a PK in this situation, VAR would likely also have supported that situation.

      In this situation, both decisions are supportable. It is an extremely unique one in that the significant foul contact (which is not a one frame event) occurs both before the ball is in play and after it is in play.

  5. Too hard to choose their performance was absolutely fantastic

  6. The main issue here is were Ricci, Pitana and Kuipers challenged in their matches the same as Mazic? They didn't have a single one doubtful situation in PK area. Mazic had several and dealt them brilliantly. As well as player management, which was the most important task in this match. Of course, we can talk over and over about that potential foul in 56', but most of us wont agree - so it is surely not 100% penalty as some of bloggers want to present. I am saying again: VAR HAD TO CALL MAZIC FOR OFR - he is the one that had to make final decision. But, I don't know whether he would give the penalty or not!
    So, apart from this, Mazic had the most difficult match and presented the best performance in QF. Mazic can be very happy with his career, we are all happy for him and his team, and I congratulate them. THE GREATEST SERBIAN REF OF ALL TIME - who knows when we will have one to come close to Mazic...

    Ricci is the second - full control, excellent job, but not so tough match, even it went to extra time. His ARs had one pretty big mistake in second half in detecting offsides: AR2 with 2 meter offside missed, and AR1 with smaller one. This could cost Ricci final, but I believe he will get it: when will happen again that Brazil wont be in semifinal? When will next chance for Brazilian ref occur? Now is the best chance and Ricci is very strong candidate.

    3rd place in QF goes to Kuipers. Not started with best focus, missed few fouls and YCs, later it was better, but in an very easy going match. Shoved some cards at the end, but they were soft comparing missed ones. AR1 with significant mistake - double one: attacker was on his half and there were two defenders in front or in line with him. Moreover, I want to underline that this was dangerous counterattack, Berg was much faster than defenders, he got the ball first and it was goal scoring opportunity (who doen't believe should rewind this ant see again). Then the result was still 0-0, and it was significant mistake against Sweden.

    Pitana, who had excellent first three games was far away from his level in this match. Maybe the easiest match, but simple I don't like how he did his job. For me, bad management in situation mentioned above - and he didn't have help from his ARs and Faghani there - so missed at least 2 more YCs for pogba and Godin - they were absolutely mandatory.

    All in all, I believe that 1st semifinal will oversee Cakir, second Faghani (he'll have his chance in Qatar - he is 40 now), 3rd place Diedhiou and final Ricci. Maybe that is not correct to UEFA refs, who are all in all the best (just one in last 4 matches), but this is my prediction. Some of them will be 4th refs.

  7. Nice quarter final games from the officials with good player control kudos to Mr Pitana especially because it was a tough match for him with France seeing off Argentina and also France playing a CONMEBOL team, he still controlled the game very well without complain from the players

  8. FRA URU Pitana 8,3
    BRA BEL Mazic 8,8
    ENG SWE Kuipers 8,3
    RUS CRO Ricci 8,4

    According to my opinion. But only Mazic had the chances to get 8,6≤ so maybe this isn't so fair.

    1. Can you explain this scoring system? I see it used a lot but I'm not familiar with it.


      This combines the (much better) UEFA Scale, and the FA Scale in my country.

    3. FRA-URU Pitana 8.4
      BRA-BEL Mazic 7.9
      ENG-SWE Kuipers 8.4
      RUS-CRO Ricci 8.5

    4. I agree Anonymous, reasonable marks

      Just out of interest, if you say Mazic is 7,9 with the missed penalty, what would your number be in the brackets?

      Eg 7,9(8,?)

    5. Gotta love how everyone hates Mazic ;) Like that was his fault coz itallian VAR is so bad this WC.

    6. Thanks Mikael! Could you tell me which matches are the ones shown in the Examples section of that chart? The resolution is very poor and I can only recognize a few of them.

    7. I'll start at the top, going down->

      Drees, Dortmund - Hoffenheim

      Webb, Atletico - Barcelona &
      Stark, Real Madrid - Barcelona

      Çakir, Barcelona - Chelsea &
      Collum, Fenerbahce - Lazio

      Rizzoli, Barcelona - Bayern &
      Webb, AC Milan - Ajax

      Kuipers, Real Madrid - Atletico &
      Turpin, Germany - Northern Ireland

      Skomina, Club Brugge - Dnipro &
      De Bleeckere, Barcelona - Inter

      Rizzoli, Real Sociedad - Manchester United

      Mazic, Atletico - Real Madrid

      Turpin, Feyernoord - Roma

      Velasco Carballo, Brazil - Colombia

      Lopes, Argentina - Chile (CA Final)

      Soto, Spain - Honduras

      Sorry it took so much space, glad to know that you found it useful, hope I helped.

  9. The Poll claims "You need to select an option" even if you have... :-(

    In any case, 4 really good performances, but only one very difficult game, which Mazic handled super well. He's got my vote.

    1. Use your computer. I have the same error on my phone.

    2. I cant do it from my computer either

    3. Try with a different browser then.

    4. Tried with both Chrome and Firefox. Doesnt work

    5. try with upper left pool, not with end of text pool.

    6. I don't experience these problems, try like Prokleti Ateista said.

    7. I had this problem, use upper pool or switch from mobile to web version (on the bottom of the site)

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. In my opinion, good QF's. Did not see Kuipers, but did see the other matches.

    Pitana was okay, not really good. Not so much control as the other 3. 8,3 for me, I wasn't impressed by his management in the small riot. Too apethic, too much trusting on his charisma. 8,3 for me.

    Mazic did really well and I was very much impressed by his performance. The points that I usually dislike about him worked out excellent. Really a finetuned performance, around 8,6. However, I think it was a penalty.

    I liked the performance of Ricci too. In 2014, I thought he was a bit too slow. However, now it seemed very much balanced. Great performance and he deserves 8,5 I think.

    For SF: Faghani and Cakir. (FO: Skomina, Diedhieu)
    3th place: Cunha (Conger)
    Final: Kuipers (Ricci)

  12. I dont know how anybody can count on Cunha after Iran Spain. Hey, he at least can be fourth official, becouse no one count on him.

  13. I don't understand.
    How can you appoint referees for the final four matches judging by their performance in the Q4?
    That won't be fair .
    It's the overall performance and experience that matter and maybe some residual factors that the referee committee may accept.
    What if Cakir got a q4 and failed? Or any other referee?

  14. Mazic is definitly number one.

  15. We have only discussed referee performances in QF. There is much more at play for the top brass.

    This includes:
    1. Previous performances.
    2. AR performances -- I spotted some pretty bright errors in at least two games; the worst of which was an errant offside flag for a situation near the half-way line for Kuipers.
    3. Fitness -- I, like others, noticed Ricci pull up in the last seconds of his game. I have had cramps like that. I've been extremely lucky they have not impacted my games, but they most certainly could have. You can absolutely not sprint and any desire to do so only makes them worse. Although they usually can be worked out in 30-60 seconds, they are maddeningly frightful.
    4. Fitness -- heart rates, distance run, reaction to stresses of the match.
    5. Emotional/psychological fitness.
    6. Off-field performance. There's regular on-going training. There's attitude at discussions (even dinners). There's arrival times. Etc. I still remember working a tournament with a former FIFA referee (he was the "Collina" of the tournament); during one education module he told me quietly, "I don't care what answers they pick; listen to and watch the way they interact with their group. The answers we can easily fix. The way we interact with others is harder to fix."
    7. The ever overriding "politics", "team inputs", and which teams end up the final. Not sure if it's been done before, but if Referee has Team A in QF should they be in F if Team A is there?

    Although all these referees would likely score in the top 5-10 in almost of these categories, there may be some minor dividing points -- far beyond the performances.

    1. RE Number 7, that happened just last World Cup! Rizzoli had Argentina in the QF (AND in the group stage) and had them for a third time in the final.

    2. A former WC referee led a talk I attended, and he was discussing FIFA politics at South Africa 2010.

      FIFA RefCom couldn't decide who to appoint to the Semifinals, there were arguments between lobbyists from each confederation.
      Eventually they decided to appoint Irmatov to URU-NED, who was relaxing in his hotel after returning from his quarterfinal. Having had less than two hours to relax, he had to immediately depart to the airport for the Semifinal, having the appointment released at that point. Physically but moreover pyschologically this must have been heavy work for him.

      I wasn't shocked by the politics, but I was shocked at such poor planning at WC 2010, FIFA were lucky that Irmatov didn't really fuck up in the semifinal.

  16. Easy game for Kuipers to handle. Pitana had control but surprisingly "nice" game. Mazic had a difficult game and missed 2 clear penalties. Kompany on Jesus. And meuniers fingers in neymars eyes is not less penalty because it´s neymar.
    Ricci had a diffucult game and did it best in my opinion. He did everything perfect


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