Tuesday, 12 May 2020

UEFA EURO 2021 - What Now?

UEFA announced some weeks ago that EURO 2020 would be delayed by a year. Perhaps quite understandably there has been little discussion in our community of the potential consequences for refereeing of a competition who's mere happening feels rather abstract right now. This editorial article tries to consider the effect of a delay regarding the selection of match officials for the potentially upcoming EURO, and who we can most and least expect the Roberto Rosetti-chaired Referees Committee to select for the competition.

It is worth saying at the outset that it is entirely conceivable that EURO 2021 will take place at all. This article works on the premise that it will. It goes without saying the competition should only take place if it is safe to do so. 

Referees and UEFA EURO 2021 - What Now?

Rapid rise: Carlos del Cerro Grande
When talking about which referees would attend EURO 2021, it seems most hepful to start with the cohort of referees who belong clearly to UEFA's top match officials and on a qualitative level - save injury or suchlike - will attend EURO 2021. In my view, these officials are: Anthony Taylor from England; Carlos del Cerro Grande from Spain; Clément Turpin from France; Daniele Orsato from Italy; Danny Makkelie from the Netherlands; Szymon Marciniak from Poland and Ovidiu Alin Haţegan from Romania. One would have noticed that there are quite a few referees missing from this list; the match officials above have been pre-selected for the next FIFA World Cup and it is quite sure that they will continue their careers until next summer.

An unwilling pawn: Damir Skomina
For others, EURO 2021 would be their last international competition, for some amongst very many, having not been pre-selected by FIFA for the next World Cup. While some have been more motivationally tested than others, I would still strongly expect the following referees to attend the EURO and probably blow their last whistles there: Antonio Mateu Lahoz from Spain; Damir Skomina from Slovenia and Cüneyt Çakır from Turkey. I believe we can also comfortably add Felix Brych from Germany, who said he would retire at the end of this current season, but also said that it would be a dream for him to finish his career handling a EURO game at the Fußball Arena München. These officials count as some of the most dependable referees UEFA have in their arsenal and Roberto Rosetti knows that the EURO would be worse officiated for their absence.

A decade ago: Björn Kuipers
Another man who certainly belongs amongst these names is Björn Kuipers from the Netherlands. The passing of time could prove problematic for him, he would celebrate his forty-eighth birthday in the months leading up to EURO 2021, but it seems it's a question of personal motivation above anything else: KNVB's refereeing coordinator Dick van Egmond has said that his association will re-enter Kuipers into their FIFA List for 2021 if he so wishes, and it's pretty inconceivable that UEFA would stop appointing him. van Egmond has said that Kuipers "wants to wait until September, October to make a decision" about EURO 2021. On a theoretical level anyway, I think we can consider him as being there.

That is the easy part. Those twelve names (who will surely handle the twelve playoff games) aside, it is very tough to predict who will attend the next EURO, or even how many referees will be there. The number eighteen, the number of then-quintets who attended EURO 2016, is far from axiomatic: the Coronavirus pandemic and tournament's pan-European staging aside, we have a new Chairman of the Referees Committee since 2016, and, perhaps more imperatively, Video Assistant Refereeing for the first time.

Flexible: Artur Soares Dias
Though not quite amongst those names aforementioned, I think can consider pre-selected World Cup 2022 referee Artur Soares Dias from Portugal's attendance as a given. His season so far was a good one, he showed good performances in quite a wide variety of clashes such as Torino - Wolverhampton Wanderers, Kosovo - Montenegro and convinced in his ability to handle games such as Germany - Netherlands and Real Madrid - Paris Saint-Germain, even if he made a crucial mistake in the former and aroused a lot of attention in the latter. Stylistically his profile is suited to the Rosetti-era, he attended the World Cup 2018 as a VAR too, and in principle he showed to be a top referee every time I watched him this season (including a very challenging FC Porto - SL Benfica game); he will be at the EURO.

A sense of timing: Benoît Bastien
Three referees from the biggest nation are fighting interesting battles to join compatriots as referees in the EURO Finals. One man has the satisfaction of knowing that his association pulled that off four years ago, Michael Oliver from England. While he has never fully convinced that he has the charisma to succeed at the top UEFA level, backed by David Elleray for many years and with the FA's lobby behind him, it seems more than likely Oliver will join Anthony Taylor as referee at EURO 2020. It is a bit trickier for Benoît Bastien from France and Felix Zwayer from Germany, especially as UEFA will want to maintain a level of appointment flexibility (Germany, France both belong to Group F and could well play late into the competition). My feeling is that only one of those two will attend; perhaps the underdog, Bastien, might even have the upper hand. Shakhtar Donetsk - Atalanta Bergamo might just have been one capriciousness too far for the German, and Bastien reminded us in Salzburg - Eintracht Frankfurt that his style is very well-suited to the Rosetti-era, despite his poor form in UEFA games since the Italian's chairmanship began until then. Perhaps DFB's lobby and WC pre-selection will be enough for Zwayer (who could potentially attend the competition as VAR-only), but the next performances for these two will be very important.

Decision-taker: Slavko Vinčić
Three men were promoted to the UEFA Elite Category in December: Orel Grinfeld from Israel, István Kovács from Romania and Slavko Vinčić from Slovenia. The delay certainly plays in their favour, as until now each of them have only handled one game on UEFA turf as Elite referees. Kovács convinced in a quite tough FC Porto - Bayer Leverkusen game, a good start. It is well known that Romania's refereeing leader Kýros Vassáras is a good lobbyist, but getting Kovács to the EURO seems beyond even him; he is a good referee but needs time to progress. The other two should be in UEFA's serious consideration. Grinfeld's style sits well with Rosetti-ism and he has VAR-experience from his domestic competition, and I believe he showed the ability to handle quite top games, the extra time also improves his chance. Slavko Vinčić showed all the skills to be a top referee and his chances to attend World Cup 2022 to which he assured an impressive pre-selection seem pretty good, but in all probability he will miss the next EURO. Čeferin's active lack of enthusiasm for (read: active blocking of) Slovenian referees, his lack of experience with VAR and a style that is the biggest affront to Rosetti-ism amongst UEFA Elite probably count against him too much, especially the first. Making any bets regarding these three, I would only see Grinfeld with a ticket, though Vinčić (and actually Georgi Kabakov, who remains unmeritocratically in First Category) would be deserving.

Dark horse: Aljaksej Kul'bakoŭ 
Between Carlos del Cerro Grande and the three referees discussed in the last paragraph, there are two more referees that have been promoted by Rosetti to the Elite Category: Aljaksej Kul'bakoŭ from Belarus and Ivan Kružliak from Slovakia. Best to deal with the Slovakian first - by neither taking appropriate disciplinary sanctions nor presenting sophisticated leadership qualities, he fails to succeed in challenging international games; aptly demonstrated by a very poor performance in the crucial Galatasaray - Club Brugge this season. Despite being pre-selected for the next World Cup, I am really struggling to see the constellation that allows him to attend it. The delay does play in his favour as he sustained an unfortunate injury in late December, returning to domestic play in March. All-in-all: it would be a surprise to see him at the EURO. Aljaksej Kul'bakoŭ, under a special focus until now in his domestic competition, was pushed hard by Rosetti from the start of his chairmanship, and the Belarusian passed the final test last season in Slavia Praha - Sevilla and was a somewhat surprise promotion to Elite. Despite having an actually very low crucial decision (KMI) accuracy, no sophisticated leadership qualities and troubles with VAR, it's clear that Rosetti likes this referee. No surprise either: his strong match-reading skills certainly play to the style of officiating we've seen in the last two years of UEFA matches. Ergo: I have the feeling his mistakes do not really matter to the committee. While it would be a shock for many, I really can imagine Kul'bakoŭ at the next EURO; remember that Rosetti chose to promote Kul'bakoŭ before eg. Vinčić, at the first chance.

Athlete: Jesús Gil Manzano
There are two names amongst Elite who we can rule out with some certainty. Deniz Aytekin from Germany will almost certainly be switched down into First Category, replaced by a compatriot, and has no chances to attend the EURO. Besides anything else, the performance principle dictates that Jesús Gil Manzano from Spain should not attend the EURO - he won't - but that thanks to the quality of del Cerro Grande and Mateu Lahoz. Gil Manzano is certainly being readied for EURO 2024, as I analysed previously. RFEF already conceded that there is no chance he will be ready for the next World Cup for which he is pre-selected; this doesn't seem unconnected to the decision to remove the age limit in Spain which now allows del Cerro Grande to be on the pre-selection list too. Participation as a Video Assistant Referee for Gil Manzano in EURO 2020 seems likely enough so as to be certain.

Trouble at home: Anastásios Sidirópoulos
We are left, then, with four names who perhaps could be seen as somewhat quaint - their days as top UEFA prospects, are rather behind them. Of them, with near certainty, we can rule out long-time injured Pavel Královec from Czechia, who will probably only remain in Elite for the rest of his career on a de jure level - watching him and now-retired Viktor Kassai in UEFA games this season felt decidedly anachronistic, nothing against the two who have served international football for a long time. The other three all do have chances attend the next EURO, which would constitute a very impressive achievement for them. It has been a good couple of seasons for Anastásios Sidirópoulos from Greece who from the cusp of demotion and not being able to handle top clashes in his nation, convinced in two crucial games: England - Croatia and Ajax Amsterdam - Getafe. It must be said that he was given both games by essentially accident, and didn't display sophisticated decision-making nor leadership skills in either matches, and I don't really see him amongst the EURO referees. The same speech can probably be made for Sergej Karasëv from Russia, pushed for his home World Cup, and presenting - if I may say so - a decidedly unaesthetic style in his games. Both men have surely convinced as solid Elite referees, and can hopefully go on in a good way - but are rather not EURO material this time.

Staunch Scotsman: William Collum
Roberto Rosetti is evidently not the biggest cheerleader of William Collum from Scotland, the Italian was surely waiting to switch him for his technically weaker but managerially stronger compatriot Robert Madden at the next category revisions. Perhaps for no Elite referee did the viral constellation form better for than Collum: not only did football's delay probably save him from demotion, he also got to show his skills with a good performance in the İstanbul Başakşehir - FC København game in the last days before everything shutdown. There is no doubt he sports experience either. A relatively low crucial decision accuracy, not being the best manager, lacking VAR experience and assistant referees all aren't really playing in Collum's favour, but in him I do see a referee who could take, say, a hypothetical place eighteen at the next EURO, with Hugh Dallas' lobby behind him. At the same time, it is quite conceivable that he could be demoted too.

A final word, on Video Assistant Referees. It is not worth writing an analysis on predicting the names of the VARs as it is rather abstract and essentially impossible, though a look into the appointments so far in the Knockout Stages of the UEFA Club Competitions should gave a good guide, but it is worth speculating on the appointments procedure. Probably UEFA will follow what FIFA did at the last World Cup and have a small pool of VARs who are appointed to games with some regular teams, eg. Kuipers (Makkelie) and so on. The alternative, and likely a look to the future, would be to select quintets including two VAR officials, for the competition. However, the potential to lose uniformity in interpretations of "clear and obvious" might be enough to scare off the idea for now. But it is an interesting area of development to watch in years to come.

I hope you found this editorial interesting - who would you select being in Roberto Rosetti's shoes for EURO 2021? Let us know in the comments.


  1. First of all, thank you very much for your detailed report in this difficult period of time.

    My eighteen choices are (only main referees):

    Carlos Del Cerro Grande
    Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
    Clement Turpin
    Felix Brych
    Felix Zwayer
    Cüneyt Çakir
    Anthony Taylor
    Michael Oliver
    Damir Skomina
    Björn Kuipers
    Artur Manuel Riberio Soares Dias
    Daniele Orsato
    Danny Makkelie
    Ovidiu Alin Hategan
    Szymon Marciniak
    Anastasios Siridopoulos
    Aleksey Kulbakov
    Sergey Karasev

    About Cüneyt Çakir's situation: His assistants gave interviews in the last few days.
    Both said that they want to attend EURO 2020.
    After this tournament,they want to speak about the future and a potential WC.


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  2. Deniz Aytekin can always be appointed as a DJ on the afterparty. :)

    I hope that this delay will not postpone, but rather enhance chances for younger referees to get to big competitions, as they have more opportunities to proove themselves.

    1. Specially for those referees pre-selected for FIFA World Cup to be promoted to Elite Category asap (Treimanis, Ekberg, Jovanovic and Kabakov)

  3. Wow) There wasn`t longread analysis here for a long time!!! Thanks for this text!
    Continue doing work like this one!
    What your thoughts about August UCL/UEL returning? Referees for these matches?

    Good work, guys!

  4. Thank you very much for such a profound article!

    Speaking about Sergey Karasev, I would be a little bit more optimistic as he has already refereed Olympics 2016, Euro 2016 and WC 2018. No doubt, in all of this tournaments he wasn't appointed to really big and crucial games, but his work in all of them was estimated as very good - both Collina and Rossetti said it. And he wasn't given any big games on this tournaments not because of his performance but just because of certain circumstances like having more experinced refs above him and his team.

    Furthermore, Rossetti had worked in Russian Refereeing Committee for a while and has known Karasev for some period of time. That's also why I think Sergey will high likely be on the list to next Euro if he does well next season

  5. It seems that I've missed the list of referees being pre-selected for the World Cup 2022) I would be really grateful if somebody would share the list)

    1. http://law5-theref.blogspot.com/2020/02/fifa-seminars-for-elite-referees.html

      Candidates for the next FIFA tournaments and 2022 World Cup are the referees called for these seminaries (some of them now postponed due to coronavirus).

    2. Thank you so much!!!

      By the way, do you think are there any chances for other referees to be added to these lists?

    3. Very small chances, only if something major happens, like Al-Mirdasi's case in 2018. In the past, the entire team was removed if any of the members would fail fitness test, but that practice ceased/reduced lately.

  6. Is the Bundesliga indeed re-starting in 2 days? If yes, were the appointments released?

    1. The appointments will be published at matchday by the German Football Association.

      But it's reported by some German newspaper that Deniz Aytekin will handle the derby BVB-S04 but offical appointments will be released on Saturday.

    2. https://www.bundesliga.com/de/bundesliga/news/schiedsrichter-ansetzungen-bundesliga-spieltag-42

  7. OT

    Can a UEFA referee like Deniz Aytekin (who is German but with Turkish origin) handle Turkish teams in Europe?

    1. I have the same question for Gozubuyuk (ethnic Turkish from Netherlands) and Kovács (ethnic Hungarian from Romania)

    2. Not sure what UEFA's preference is, but a good example from Concacaf is Jair Marrufo. His father was actually a FIFA referee from Mexico, but Jair's home country is the US.

      In the Concacaf Champions League, Marrufo regularly can officiate teams from Mexico (whether they are playing a team from another nation or another team from Mexico), but he never handles MLS teams (including the Canadian ones, as far as I know).

      In the international game, he has officiated Mexico in many friendly matches (the most recent being 2018 Mexico vs Bosnia & Herzegovina), but has never had the Mexican national team in a competitive match....

      Until, at least, the 2017 Confederations Cup, when he worked as a VAR or an AVAR on two of Mexico's matches, bizarrely.

      So, it seems like the circumstances really depend.

    3. Deniz Aytekin, was a referee on a friendly game between England & Turkey in 2016. I never remember him officiated on an official game.

  8. Thanks Mikael for this analysis. I like so much such kind of articles, more than single episode analysis.
    By the way this is my list for Uefa 2021, which is a combination between my favorite names and what I expect form the commetee
    Carlos Del Cerro Grande
    Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
    Clement Turpin
    Benoit Bastien
    Felix Brych
    Felix Zwayer
    Cüneyt Çakir
    Anthony Taylor
    Michael Oliver
    Damir Skomina
    Artur Manuel Riberio Soares Dias
    Daniele Orsato
    Danny Makkelie
    Ovidiu Alin Hategan
    Szymon Marciniak
    Sergey Karasev

    8 VARS:
    Denitz Aytekin
    Jesus Gil Manzano
    Pawel Gil
    Massimiliano Irrati
    Anastasios Sidiropolous
    Serdar Guzubuyuk
    Ali Palabiyk
    Bruno Tiago Lopes Martins

    Slavko Vincic
    Orel Grenfeeld
    Istvan Kovacs
    Ivan Kruzliak

    1. Aytekin will Probably not used as VAR. He is not used as a VAR in the Bundesliga very often and made some mistakes. Dankert will certainly be at Euro as VAR

    2. Same applies to the Netherlands: probably Kamphuis, Van Boekel or Blom will be used as VAR instead of Gözübüyük.

  9. Great write up! Could you explain in some more detail what you mean by "Rosetti-ism" and the style associated with that. You mentioned that Kovacs's style is an affront to "Rosetti-ism"; what does his style entail?

  10. German appointments?

    1. Will only be published at the day of the match after they have received the result of the Corona test, which is done one day before the match.

  11. As far as I know, UEFA EURO 2020 is a registered trademark and will not be renamed into UEFA EURO 2021 due to marketing reasons.

  12. Spanish professional ARs are training their offside detecting skills with a UEFA program in which after watching clips they have to detect if there's offside or not and which is the correct frame when attacker touches the ball.


  13. It's obvious by now, even the blind can see it! The Spanish school is ahead of everyone and will be so for a long time.

  14. Italian legend collina didn't referee euro final ever

    1. It is reported Collina didn't want to appoint Rizzoli as Euro 2016 final referee exacly for this reason. As he didn't handle EURO final, he didn't want Rizzoli to achieve that after WC final, thus becoming more successful than him.

  15. 2 referees in history refereed wc final and euro final denist from Switzerland and gonella from italy

  16. Augsburg - Wolfsburg Felix Zwayer
    Borussia Dortmund - Schalke 04 Deniz Aytekin
    Fortuna Düsseldorf - SC Paderborn 07 Robert Hartmann
    Hoffenheim - Hertha BSC Bastian Dankert
    RB Leipzig - Freiburg Tobias Stieler
    Eintracht Frankfurt - Borussia Mönchengladbach Christian Dingert

    1. Those are the appointments from the original MD26. I don't think, they will maintained, because they include some long travel distances, which should be avoided.

    2. It would have been interesting to see Stieler in a Freiburg game after what happened last time (would have been the first time in more than 2 years)

  17. FIFATV matches of the weekend
    Mexico - Brazil
    Referee: Frank de Bleeckere (BEL)
    ARs: Mark Simons, Peter Hermans (BEL)
    4O: Mark Shield (AUS)

    Brazil - Colombia
    Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP)
    ARs: Roberto Alonso, Juan Carlos Yuste (ESP)
    4O: Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR)
    5O: Kim Haglund (NOR)

    France - Croatia
    Referee: Nestor Pitana (ARG)
    ARs: Hernan Maidana, Juan Pablo Belatti (ARG)
    4O: Björn Kuipers (NED)
    RAR: Erwin Zeinstra (NED)
    VAR: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
    AVARs: Mauro Vigliano (ARG), Carlos Astroza (CHI), Danny Makkelie (NED)

    1. Please don't miss the show by Velasco Carballo in his game!
      The poorest officiating in a game ever.

  18. Next UEFA.tv matches
    Netherlands - Denmark: Emilio Soriano Aldren, Francisco Garcia Pacheco, Jose Luis Iglesia Casas (all ESP)
    PSV Eindhoven - AC Milan: Terje Hauge, Ole Borgan, Steinar Holvik, Tom Henning Ovrebo (all NOR)
    AS Roma - FC Liverpool: Damir Skomina, Jure Prapotnik, Robert Vukan, Tomaz Klancnik, Matej Jug, Slavko Vincic (all SVN)
    FC Valencia - FC Arsenal: Danny Makkelie, Mario Diks, Hessel Steegstra (all NED), Sergei Karasev (RUS), Dennis Higler, Jochem Kamphuis (both NED)
    Germany - France: Nicola Rizzoli, Elenito di Liberatore, Mauro Tonolini (all ITA), Damir Skomina (SVN), Daniele Orsato, Antonio Damato (both ITA), Jure Prapotnik (SVN)

  19. Just some clarifications: it is actually very unlikely (instead of probable as you said) that Mateu Lahoz's last whistle will be next summer. First, because he has a further season within previous age limits (while Del Cerro has not). But also, because a few days ago, CTA held an online interview with a group of referees in which he participated (as Quilava posted). He was actually asked when was he going to retire and if he was going to take profit from the removal of age limits. To the second question he answered affirmatively, and said that he loves refereeing and that he would like to keep going for as long as possible.

  20. Today's Bundesliga appointments (Ref, AR1, AR2, 4O - VAR, AVAR):
    Dortmund - Schalke: Deniz Aytekin, Christian Dietz, Eduard Beitinger, Sven Jablonski - Benjamin Brand, Michael Emmer
    Leipzig - Freiburg: Manuel Gräfe, Christof Günsch, Robert Wessel, Alexander Sather, Daniel Schlager, Christian Fischer
    Hoffenheim - Hertha: Christian Dingert, Tobias Christ, Timo Gerach, Rafael Foltyn - Robert Kampka, Mike Pickel
    Düsseldorf - Paderborn: Frank Willenborg, Arne Aarnink, Guido Kleve, Frederick Assmuth - Bibiana Steinhaus, Markus Schüller
    Augsburg - Wolfsburg: Felix Brych, Dominik Schaal, Arno Blos, Benjamin Cortus - Marco Fritz, Marcel Pelgrim
    Frankfurt - Mönchengladbach: Felix Zwayer, Thorsten Schiffner, Marco Achmüller, Markus Schmidt - Günter Perl, Sascha Thielert

  21. This is my list of UEFA Euro 2021 referees:

    My 15 referees of the EURO 2021
    Country - Name of the referee
    Germany - Felix Brych
    Netherlands - Bjorn Kuipers
    Poland - Szymon Marciniak
    England - Michael Oliver
    France - Clement Turpin
    Spain - Antonio Mateu Lahoz
    Spain - Carlos Del Cerro Grande
    Portugal - Artur Soares Dias
    Italy - Daniele Orsato
    Slovenia - Damir Skomina
    Romania - Ovidiu Hategan
    Scotland - William Collum
    Russia - Sergey Karasev
    Greece - Anastasios Sidiropolous

    5 reserve referees / 4th OFFICIAL of the EURO 2021
    Country - Name of the referee
    Belarus - Alexey Kulbakov
    Israel - Orel Grenfeeld
    Romania - Istvan Kovacs
    Slovakia - Ivan Kruzliak
    Slovenia - Slavko Vincic

    My 20 video referee of the EURO 2021
    Country - Name of the referee
    Germany - Felix Zwayer
    Germany - Bastian Dankert
    Poland - Pawel Gil
    Spain - Xavier Estrade Fernandez
    Spain - Jesus Gil Manzano
    Spain - Alejandro Hernández
    Spain - Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea
    Italy - Massimiliano Irrati
    Italy - Davide Massa
    Italy - Marco Guida
    Netherlands- Danny Makkelie
    Netherlands- Pol van Boekel
    Netherlands- Kevin Blom
    Portugal - Tiago Martins
    France - Francois Letexier
    France - Benoît Bastien
    England - Anthony Taylor
    Sweden - Andreas Ekberg
    Slovenia - Matej Jug
    Scotland - Robert Madden

    Is this good or not good?
    Who do you take with you or not?
    Will you still change anything?
    Leave it in the comments !!!


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