Thursday, 18 June 2020

Bundesliga: Round 31 Review

Review of the fourth-last round of Bundesliga games, thanks to Philipp S. and our cooperation with the BuliSchiri blog.

Robert Hartmann faced an interesting situation in Berlin

Again, we work in chronological order:

Tobias Welz in TSG Hoffenheim - RB Leipzig [VAR: Tobias Stieler]

Overall: Not the most consistent foul detection, but generally okay performance.

5' Penalty + Yellow Card (DOGSO, not-deliberate tripping) revoked because of a prior handling after VAR intervention

-> Tricky situation, but the final decision is clearly correct (Philipp: The long duration of the VAR check is also understandable, because there was another potential handling, an offside, and a touch off the referee, but there still is room for improvement. The problem with the situation is that the translation in the German version of the LotG is misleading, because it requires that the player, who gets the ball on his hand, gets into possession and has the following goal-scoring opportunity himself. Therefore a deflection to a teammate is not covered by the German text there.).

Bastian Dankert in VfL Wolfsburg - SC Freiburg [VAR: Robert Kampka]

Overall: Referee managed to keep control of this game despite its hectic nature and high number of Key Match Incidents, including a correctly not given penalty (potential holding) at 18' and VAR correctly spotting a handling before a goal at 28'. Good performance.

22' Goal disallowed (offside) and a Penalty + Yellow Card (reckless) in the same scene after VAR intervention

-> Correct decision, as the foul occurs before the offside, which AR René Rohde ought to have seen himself. Yellow Card is correct as the kick to the head was not frontal (Mikael: I wonder, if a Red Card would still be possible here).

61' Penalty (tripping)?

Philipp: More of a penalty than not, but as the impact of the tripping offence is unclear, play on is still supportable.

Mikael: Tricky situation to perceive, especially on an expectation-perception-recognition level considering the position of both players, but in the end it's a clear penalty. VAR should intervene in my view.

Sascha Stegemann in Fortuna Düsseldorf - Borussia Dortmund [VAR: Deniz Aytekin]

Overall: Solid and uncontroversial performance.

65' Goal disallowed after VAR intervention for a prior handing

Philipp: Technically, it is a black-and-white decision, so correct to solve it without OFR. However, it's actually quite hard to determine (with the current, 2019/20, LotG), whether the ball strikes the arm or the shoulder. All three solutions (no intervention, VAR intervenes without an OFR, VAR calls an OFR to allow the referee to decide) seem reasonable here, though punishing the handling seems better.

Mikael: From the replay at match minute 65:02, the handling seems fairly clear to me. Perhaps a case where it is better for the referee to view the footage himself than having the call taken for him, but the goal seems to have been correctly disallowed in the end.

Robert Hartmann in Hertha BSC - Eintracht Frankfurt [VAR: Benjamin Cortus]

Overall: Satisfactory performance which did contain mistakes, such as a clear missed caution at 48' (reckless) where no foul was given.

44' Penalty + Second Yellow Card (not-deliberate DOGSO) becomes Attacking Freekick + Red Card (DOGSO) after VAR intervenes 

->: Final decision is correct (Philipp: was an OFR really needed here? Perhaps VAR team wanted to confirm for the referee that his foul was correct. Very good procedure to explain to the captains the reasons for the change, rather than call the player back onto the pitch momentarily only to instantly re-eject him).

Martin Petersen in 1.FC Köln - Union Berlin [VAR: Harm Osmers]

Overall: A bit pedantic but consistent foul selection for this relegation six-pointer; ultimately, referee solved the game okay.

32' Penalty given (handling) revoked after VAR intervention

Philipp: No penalty is the correct decision; after the statement from the DFB regarding the penalty given in the Paderborn - Dortmund game, it is a bit surprising that VAR intervened.

Mikael: As in the situation mentioned, the defender's arm is 'pushed out' by hitting the ball, not moving towards it - an understandable perception mistake made by AR Alexander Sather. Very good use of VAR to overturn the decision: well done.

+95' Penalty (charging)?

Philipp: Grey area. Penalty would not be wrong in his view, but also there is no clear push or charge on the attacker who seems to go down easily. VAR should support either call.

Mikael: Brilliant decision by the referee to play on here! While the attacker for the most part is reasonably following the ball, at the end he stops trying to reach the ball knowing the defender will run into him, in an attempt to win a penalty. Referee perceives the situation perfectly. Personally, I would like to see VAR intervene if a penalty was awarded, but I can understand the arguments against that.

Christian Dingert in SC Paderborn 07 - Werder Bremen [VAR: Daniel Schlager]

Overall: Pretty good performance in another important match in the relegation battle. Correct penalty (handling) given at 19' and disciplinary control - besides one missed caution at 80' - was very good; the high number of cautions justified.

19' Penalty (handling) given

-> Correct decision, very well seen.

Felix Zwayer in Bayern München - Borussia Mönchengladbach [VAR: Florian Badstübner]

Overall: Missed caution (unsporting behaviour) at 34' aside, good performance in an overall easy-going match. 

Marco Fritz in FSV Mainz - FC Augsburg [VAR: Markus Schmidt]

Overall: Referee was always in control of the game, good disciplinary choices.

Daniel Siebert in Schalke 04 - Bayer Leverkusen [VAR: Günter Perl]

Overall: Referee faced a tough match, including scenes such as this confrontation arising from a situation at 56'. Neither his decisions, which were unpredictable and made the players more anxious, nor his personality could really calm this match down. Not a satisfying impression.

48' Penalty (handling) given after VAR intervention

Philipp: Extremely difficult situation. On the one hand, the handling is theoretically quite punishable (body position) and the contact of the Schalke player is actually not a foul (contact is also caused by the movement of the arm). On the other hand, I think that most neutral spectators don't want to see a penalty kick for something like that - because the arm is moved in that position by the opponent. So the penalty kick is not in the sense of the game and a defensive free kick might be more clever - but not necessarily more correct (see above).

Because of these question marks the VAR intervention is also debatable. On the one hand you can call the handling clearly punishable and a "missed incident" (important in DFB) - on the other hand you could argue it is too rigorous for the DFB norm.

Mikael: Philipp analyses the situation very well and I only have small points to add. Referee awards the penalty after having been convinced by the long-shot angle that does not show the happenstance of the handling (arm being jogged onto the ball by the opponent), which is not ideal, as that is the key here. My strong, strong preference is for no penalty, whether that is by a defensive freekick or just play on.

Tricky situation but in my view this is a scene where looking for the most technocratic solution does not yield the most satisfying answer.

Martin Petersen was in charge of Köln - Union Berlin in Round 31

Finally, DFB released a statement about the recent controversial handling decisions taken by (video) match officials, kindly translated by Philipp:

"Law 12 has been extensively amended in relation to handball over the last year. One major change was the stipulation that a goal may not count if it is scored directly with the hand or arm (whether intentionally or not) or if a player or even a team-mate touches the ball with the hand or arm (whether intentionally or not) and the goal is scored immediately afterwards. This also applies if a goalscoring opportunity is created as a result. The reason for this change by the rule makers of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) was that there were always fundamental discussions about "deliberate" or "not deliberate" - especially when goals were scored immediately after a contact with the hand or arm. In such cases, the referee now has no leeway.

This rule change has been applied several times in the course of the season so far, but last weekend it was applied at three different venues: In Hoffenheim, in the match against Leipzig, a team-mate unintentionally touched the ball in front of Hoffenheim player Dabbur, who was then fouled by Leipzig goalkeeper Gulacsi. In Wolfsburg, in the game against Freiburg, the Wolfsburg player Ginczek scored a goal with a non-intentional handball. In Dusseldorf, in the game against Dortmund, the ball bounced to the upper arm of Dortmund player Guerreiro before his shot on goal, not intentionally. In all three cases, the referees decided on a free kick for the opposing team, completely in accordance with the rules."

Insofar as polls like this one should be taken seriously - this statement against the background that a recent survey on the popular sports website in Germany, Kicker, reported that 87% of football fans now do not understand the DFB's interpretation of handling offences.

(Please keep comments on this post to the relevant topic, it makes it easier to find discussions with lot of new posts in recent days :))


  1. In PORTUGAL, Luís Godinho and Tiago Martins (VAR) have a "fire" game in Vila do Conde:

    VAR 15':

    VAR 57':

    RC 62':

    RC 72':

    HB 79':

    YC 80':

    1. RC 90'+2':

      The player said: "It's a shame, in the end the game will already have the money in your account".
      The decision of Portuguese federation in: 2 games out

  2. I watched Alexander Sather referee Hannover v St Pauli in 2. Bundesliga today. Very calm referee with excellent fitness and authority. Good decision making as well. Only negative is the excessive whistling, but that can be said about most German referees...

    German readers, is this a referee with potential for promotion soon?

    1. By age and experience, he could be a candidate for promotion and I have the impression, he has a good season. However looking at appointments, I think, there are other referees with bigger chances.
      So promotion is not impossible, but I would not see Sather among the favourites.
      BTW, normally promotions are only done, if there is a free space in 1. Bundesliga. As nobody reaches the age limit, it is possible, that there won't be any promotions this summer.


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