Monday, 7 May 2018

Milorad Mažić referee of 2017-18 Champions League final: a deserved appointment

The Serbian will be in charge of Real Madrid - Liverpool on next 26 May in Kyiv. Our blog readers had not many doubts about that. Let's have a closer look at his international career. 

Milorad Mažić joined the FIFA list as international referee on 01/01/2009, a few months before his 36th birthday. He made his debut in Europa League group stage on September 2010 and a few months later he got also the appointment for a KO-stage game. This was the first remarkable achievement. Then, in the 2011-12 edition, he officiated 8 games: starting from preliminary rounds, he appeared in play off, group stage and also three KO-stage matches. In this period he was showing more than impressive performances. I had the occasion to watch one of these games: FC Vaslui - SS Lazio, Europa League group stage (01/12/2011). The game by itself was not so challenging, but I had the feeling that he had a more than natural charisma on the players, and if everything was going in the right way, it was just thank to his presence. 

Debut in Champions League group stage was just a natural consequence: it occurred on September 2012. Starting from this season, he was also noticed by FIFA, and he was added as preselected referee for WC 2014. His palmares was surely not comparable to the ones of the other contenders, but for some reasons he had impressed the FIFA committee as well. Before being selected for WC 2014, he attended a FIFA tournament and he was also called to officiate a WC play off between Romania and Greece.

After a clear path before World Cup 2014, the Serbian was not at his best during the tournament in Brazil. He officiated only two games in group stage: Germany - Portugal and Argentina - Iran. He got many criticisms for both games, mostly for the latter, with the Iranian federation complaining against his officiating. He ended his tournament without a good luck. Did this call for WC come too early? We can't answer to this question with accuracy, but we can surely say it was not the best moment for the Serbian.

As regular Elite referee, in the following years he has gained further experience, reaching the Quarterfinals of Champions League in several occasions. The most important assignment for him, in this stage of the competition, was Madrid's derby, in 2014/15 season. In this game the Serbian got some criticisms for his officiating. He had never the occasion to make a further step, by officiating a CL semifinal, so he will be now directly in final.

In 2016 another major tournament followed, EURO 2016. He showed to be among the best referees of the competition, handling two group stage games and a Round of 16. He was very likely a candidate for the final, but he missed the call. Maybe, as reward for the good officiating in France, a few months later he was assigned as referee for 2016 UEFA Super Cup, between Real Madrid and Sevilla. 

One year later, he attended another FIFA tournament, Confederations Cup in Russia, and he got the final between Chile and Germany. A few months later, November 2017, he was again in charge of a WC playoff, this time between Denmark and Republic of Ireland. 

The rest is recent history: he has officiated 4 group stage games in this Champions League edition, without being appointed in KO stage. We can't know whether this was a strategy or something like that, but for sure his career talks definitely in favor of this assignment and it is fully deserved. For a country like Serbia, I think this is a more than big achievement as well.

Last referee from Serbia (former Yugoslavia) to officiate a final in this competition had been Milivoje Gugulović in 1973, when the final act of "European Cup" took place in Belgrade. More recently, Zoran Petrović had officiated the final of 1992/93 UEFA Cup in Amsterdam. 


  1. Well deserved appointment for the Serbian... Applying pressure has already started from media and fans but he is experienced enough to deal with such things... I'm sure Mazic will deliver a good performance in Kyiv in the biggest night of his career so far :)

    1. Maybe Mazic can get both CL and WC finals like Webb did back in 2010 if im right?
      Great and biggest achievement of his career. So proud of him what he did in the past 3 years

    2. Anything is possible of course but I think some other names might be ahead of him in the pecking order for the WC final

    3. Çakir, Pitana, Ricci, Ermatov and Geiger all prime candidates too


    4. I don´t like Pitana and Ricci.

    5. Alberto you don't seem to like anyone or anything.

    6. Bad Pitana, bad Ricci. Bad Busacca.

    7. Bad Russia, Bad World Cup

  2. Maybe Mazic or Irmatov will be FIFA World Cup final referee. From 2013 until now,UCL final always refereed with referees which get FIFA licence in 2006 or over.

    1. It is imposible to predict now will be the referee
      of the final in Moscu.
      It will be necessary to wait the last days.

    2. There are certain favourites to begin with in every WC... Same for Moscu or whatever!

  3. OT: LaLiga appointments for MD 37. Only UEL qualification still undecided:

    Real Sociedad de Fútbol - Club Deportivo Leganés SAD (12/05/2018, 16:15)
    Referee: Medié Jiménez, David
    Fourth Official: Fuente Martín, Alberto
    AR1: Hernández Ramos, Iván
    AR2: Cerdán Aguilar, Marcos
    Referee observer: Delgado Ferreiro, Carlos

    Getafe Club de Fútbol - Club Atlético de Madrid (12/05/2018, 18:30)
    Referee: Alberola Rojas, Javier
    Fourth Official: Collado López, Luis Fernando
    AR1: Huerga Cermeño, Andoni
    AR2: Villate Martínez, Aitor
    Referee observer: Egido Rozas, Vicente

    Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña - Villarreal Club de Fútbol (12/05/2018, 18:30)
    Referee: Hernández Hernández, Alejandro José (FIFA, 2nd group)
    Fourth Official: Bueno Prieto, Fernando
    AR1: Sobrino Magán, Teodoro (FIFA)
    AR2: Naranjo Pérez, José Enrique
    Referee observer: López de la Fuente, José

    Sociedad Deportiva Eibar - UD Las Palmas (12/05/2018, 18:30)
    Referee: Mateu Lahoz, Antonio Miguel (FIFA, Elite)
    Fourth Official: Bosch Doménech, Miguel
    AR1: Cebrián Devís, Pau (FIFA)
    AR2: Barbero Sevilla, Diego (FIFA)
    Referee observer: Aguirre Huerga, Jon Karlos

    Real Betis Balompié - Sevilla Fútbol Club (12/05/2018, 18:30)
    Referee: Álvarez Izquierdo, Alfonso José
    Fourth Official: Català Ferran, Albert
    AR1: Barranco Trejo, Juan Carlos
    AR2: Méndez Mateo, Joan
    Referee observer: Gutiérrez Pérez, Luis Alberto

    Deportivo Alavés SAD - Athletic Club (12/05/2018, 18:30)
    Referee: Estrada Fernández, Xavier (FIFA, 1st group)
    Fourth Official: Ávalos Martos, Albert
    AR1: Martínez Munuera, Miguel (FIFA)
    AR2: Martín García, Francisco Javier
    Referee observer: Arias López, Francisco Manuel

    Girona Futbol Club SAD - Valencia Club de Fútbol (12/05/2018, 18:30)
    Referee: Iglesias Villanueva, Ignacio
    Fourth Official: Escudero Marín, Ricardo
    AR1: Costoya Rodríguez, Alfonso
    AR2: Ramos Ferreiros, Enrique José
    Referee observer: Segura García, Ricardo A.

    Real Madrid Club de Fútbol - Real Club Celta de Vigo (12/05/2018, 20:45)
    Referee: González Fuertes, Pablo
    Fourth Official: López Parra, Álvaro
    AR1: Fernández Miranda, José Manuel
    AR2: García Fernández, César
    Referee observer: Teixeira Vitienes, José Antonio

    Real Club Deportivo Espanyol de Barcelona - Málaga Club de Fútbol (13/05/2018, 16:15)
    Referee: Martínez Munuera, Juan (FIFA, 2nd group)
    Fourth Official: Caparrós Hernández, Iván
    AR1: Díaz Pérez del Palomar, Roberto (FIFA)
    AR2: Noval Font, César Manuel
    Referee observer: Artero Gallardo, Antonio

    Levante Unión Deportiva - Fútbol Club Barcelona (13/05/2018, 20:45)
    Referee: Melero López, Mario
    Fourth Official: Sánchez Alba, Alejandro
    AR1: Torre Cimiano, Manuel Ángel
    AR2: Martínez Serrato, José Luis
    Referee observer: Medina Hernández, Pedro

    1. The best match is, without doubts, Sevilla - Betis, which goes to Álvarez Izquierdo, who is retiring. Not only is a very intense and difficult match, but also they are fighting to qualify for UEL (Betis has already achieved that, but wants to go directly instead of playing previous rounds). So it is a very good match for him and also proof of the trust he has in CTA.

      Also, an important point to raise about this appointments is that, at this point, referees from the same region as one of the teams fighting for something cannot be appointed in matches whose outcome can affect that team. So that is the reason Martínez Munuera, a FIFA referee, could not get any significant match apart from Eibar - Las Palmas, which goes to Mateu Lahoz who is from the same region (València).

      Also, it is significant the number of consecutive matchdays in which Alberola Rojas has been appointed, 5, and IIRC always in matches with something in dispute, which is a very good signal for him. He has, in fact, another interesting match: a Madrid derby in which Getafe wants to secure his UEL spot (if Sevilla doesn't win tomorrow against Real Madrid).

    2. George, do you know how the referees in Spain are assessed by observers? May you post the criteria here or send it to me via mail (if yes, ask Chefren for my address).

    3. I have little info on this. I know there is a report after each match, but I'm not sure if the marking is as in UEFA. The final mark of the season comes from those marks and a "corrective index" which is not very clear where it comes from. However, I think that if you ask Eduardo Iturralde (@itu_edu) on Twitter he might be able to explain it better. I asked him two and a half years ago about that corrective index and his answer was that not even him, who had been marked with it, knew where it came from exactly, so it is not public.

    4. First of all, you have to meet Mr. Corrective Index.

    5. Thanks. They publish a ranking at the end of the season and they don't want to explain how it works. Strange :)

    6. Indeed. Based on my observations, I think FIFA referees get a higher correction index than the rest. But then it is difficult to explain how could González González be the best referee in the ranking some seasons ago if he was not FIFA. His performances had to be unbelievably good, so I think he also got a good corrective index but I don't know why. My theory in this case is that he was indeed the best without the index applied and they decided to use a corrective index that ensured his top classification. But that is just pure speculation.

    7. So that corrective index is something unfair. Making a ranking you should take into account only the performances, nothing else. My question: what would have happened if a FIFA referee was classified on one of two last places? Of course, it will never happen (and therefore such rankings are not reliable), but...

    8. That's the thing: that will never happen. But if that was to happen, I guess they would remove that referee from the list with immediate effect on July 1st.

      I can't say the corrective index is unfair because I don't know how it works. But it seems, from the outside, that it is.

  4. Mazic got hot and decisive game on sunday for third place and Europe league qual. Both teams wanted Mazic to get this match.

    1. Obvious choice in Serbia for hot games :D

    2. The bad thing is that, after Mazic's retirement at the end of next season, we will hardly have the ref for so hot matches in Serbian championship. We didn't prepare much of them. You can count only on Grujic and Srdjan Jovanovic, for whom I believe can be Mazic's successor if he continues to perform well. He is on the right way to do so! He is young, 32 years old, but his problem can be that it seems he is not so beloved among members of Refereeing Committee. Hope this will change soon. We need "new" Mazic.

    3. Some serbian newspapers are saying that UEFA said to our federatior that its better for Mazic to take a break before CL final.
      Why would you change referee when its 15 days till CL final?

  5. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to comment Mazic'a appointment so far, so I'll do it now.
    Big congratulations to my compatriot and his whole team. Unbelievable achievent for the ref that comes from such small and for many years, untill recently (national team will be in Russia and two teams Red Star and Partizan passed their EL groups for European spring after many years) not so important country in football competitions. Fully deserved appointment and I am very happy for their success. For years they were incredibly constant, with hardly any important/crucial mistake. If we want to find his mistakes, we have to dig deep in the past!!!

    About the past, mentioned here, I want to make some comments about others' words on this blog. 3 games where emphasized:
    Germany-Portugal - as not a big name in European refereeing, Mazic got probably the biggest derby of the group stage. What he did wrong? Penalty for German - fully correct. RC for VC to Pepe fully correct. He missed one YC in 1st half (tactically) and PK for Portugal when it was 4-0. By LoTG crucial mistake, ok, but for the final outcome? This mistake was made so crucial only because Ronaldo protested a lot because he didn't have chance tp score! And that's all.
    Argentina-Iran: what was wrong there? Did he miss PK for Iran? You have on youtube video of this incident from dofferent angles: it is clear that Zabaleta played the ball first! There are still lot of controversies - you can find on the net different analysis of this situation - it is 50/50 opinions whether it was PK or not. And Mazic had to decide in less than a second. If Messi didn't score just before the end, this incident wouldn't be such important. Also, if, in that moment mighty Karlos Keiros was not Iran's coach (he accused Mazic for his fail), the incident would not be deemed as so crucial. And ALSO, if on the pitch was Cakir, Rizzoli, Brych, but not "some" Mazic - there won't be so many criticism!
    And last: Atletico-Real! In that time, Atletico and Real's players didn't play football - they behaved as they are in war! We all knew that whoever got this derby in that moment - would have extremely tough job. Mazic got this hot potatoe and it was the signal how much Collina believes in him! The war started from 1st second of the match. The war was reported in all the media then. Mazic was excellent in the first half, but lost control for 15-20 minutes in second, after missed penalty. It was only 15-20 minute in such hot, heavy match before Atletico fans. But this performance was far better than, for example Cakir's, Skomina's (in semis this year) or Kassai's in Real-Bayern. Believe me, if you watvh this duel another time, you will see I am right.

    After this match, Mazic had numerous excellent performances. Only several, mostly not so crucial mistake (there was one ghost corner kick after Fener scored, there was goal after Ibra's offside when he "blocked" Hart in Psg-City - I am still convinced there was no GK infrigement and some smaller things) but in 4 years we can talk about maybe 3 important mistakes from Mazic and his team. And in the same time, he had some fantastic matches, e.g. Dnypro-Napoli in so heavy conditions (heavy rain) in EL semifinal whis is for me one of the best refereed mathes I've ever watch.

    Sorry for such a long comment, but I wanted to make one, I believe, fair analysis of some "doubtful" Mazic's performances. Also, I want to apologize if there are some typing mistakes - I typed it fast on my phone in (not so fast) train :-)