Wednesday, 23 May 2018

On the Road to WC 2018: Stage 1, Focus on AFC

2018 FIFA World Cup is coming. Just a few weeks and all fans will enjoy fantastic days of football at top level. We wish an excellent officiating. Waiting for the tournament, we want to analyze, step by step, refereeing's perspectives. First focus is dedicated to AFC. 

The following officials will be part of 2018 WC coming from AFC:

Referee: Fahad Al-Mirdasi (KSA)
Referee: Alireza Faghani (IRN)
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)
Referee: Mohammed Abdulla Mohamed (UAE)
Referee: Ryuji Sato (JPN)
Referee: Nawaf Shukralla (BHR)
Assistant Referee: Abdullah Al-Shalawi (KSA)
Assistant Referee: Mohammed Al-Abakry (KSA)
Assistant Referee: Reza Sokhandan (IRN)
Assistant Referee: Mohammadreza Mansouri (IRN)
Assistant Referee: Abdukhamidullo Rasulov (UZB)
Assistant Referee: Jakhongir Saidov (UZB)
Assistant Referee: Mohamed Al-Hammadi (UAE)
Assistant Referee: Taleb Al Marri (QAT)
Assistant Referee: Toru Sagara (JPN)
Assistant Referee: Yaser Tulefat (BHR)
Video Assistant Referee: Abdulrahman Al Jassim (QAT)

The first open question is about Saudi Fahad Al Mirdasi. The referee has been reported as guilty of match-fixing attempt, by asking money to a president of a team from his country, before officiating the national cup final. Following this fact, the referee has been officially banned for life by Saudi federation. What we can underline is that FIFA has not still taken an official position, after having asked for more info. Without doubts, it is now difficult to imagine that the Saudi could officiate games at WC, despite what has happened. In any case, we hope to know more about this issue, time is passing and an official statement by FIFA should follow soon. What we don't understand is the fact that after this official statement by Saudi federation, absolutely nothing has followed in terms of further infos.  So we can rule Fahad Al Mirdasi out from the list. Difficult to guess what could happen with both assistant referees who were in the same trio. Maybe they will stay at home as well, or, in alternative, they will be matched to another referee. We will see.

In terms of experience, AFC has for sure in Ravshan Irmatov the best representative. The referee from Uzbekistan, FIFA from 2003, will attend his third World Cup. In addition to that, he has also attended many other FIFA tournaments. The first experience at WC, in 2010, was amazing. The Uzbek showed more than oustanding performances, officiating 5 games: three group stage matches, a quarterfinal and a semifinal. In 2014 his participation to WC, despite of the fact that he was more experienced, was not so good like the first one. He officiated four games, but overall the level of his officiating was definitely not the same as the previous edition. In any case, he stays now as very strong name, also in terms of trust by committee.  In case of good performances, he is for sure the only name from Asia who can reach the final assignment.

Iranian Alireza Faghani is another very experienced official from the Asian continent: differently from Irmatov, he will attend his first WC as main referee. However, he was also in Brazil 4 years ago, but working only as fourth official. Indeed, at that time, he was a prospect for the future. In the recent 4 years, Faghani has impressed in the FIFA tournaments he has attended: we can mention two final assignments. He has been the man in the middle for Club World Cup in 2015 and then for Olympic tournament in 2016. He has gained a big trust by committee. His last participation to a FIFA tournament has been the Confederations Cup one year ago in Russia. In this occasion, he didn't show, according to our opinion, the same performances as the previous tournaments, but taking everything into account he is still a very reliable referee and he will get for sure good games in case of expected performances. Possible for him, without doubts, to reach KO stage.

Nawaf Shukralla from Bahrain has officiated two games at the previous WC in Brazil. He is for sure a reliable referee, but differently from the other options, we have the feeling that the trust by FIFA committee, at least before this WC, is not the same as the previously mentioned colleagues from the same confederation. What surprised us 4 years ago was the fact that he got the first game of the tournament when the group stage was about to finish. He was good and he got a second game a few days after, but we think that this time he should manage more. There is only an assistant referee from his country, but the sensation is that he will get another assistant referee, to officiate games. Difficult to see him in KO stage, this should happen only in case of very, very good performances. Basically, however, he can definitely have a better group stage than 2014.   

Japanese Ryuji Sato is very likely planned to be a reserve referee, but we can't give it for sure. This will be the first World Cup, after having officiated some games at FIFA Youth tournaments in both 2015 (U20) and 2017 (U17) and a game at Olympic Tournament (2016). Toru Sagara, as already reported, will the only assistant referee from the same country. In case of appointments as main referee, we don't see him in KO stage, but for sure a good appearance in group stage can be the target.

Mohammed Abdulla Mohamed from the United Arab Emirates will be without doubts, in this case we can be quite sure, a reserve referee, with fourth-official duties. He has officiated games in two FIFA youth tournaments but nothing more than that. Like Sato, there will be only one assistant referee from his country and very likely they will work together in the appointments as fourth and fifth official respectively. 

Finally, Abdulrahman Al Jassim from Qatar will carry out VAR duties as the only official from this confederation to do that. 


  1. OT:
    Croatian Cup Final,referee Mario Zebec,match between Dinamo and Hajduk.

    Two very (probably not)debatable situations:

    1-Offside given,very tight call:

    2-YC given for simulation,also questionable.

    1. 1 - Really tight call. I would want the AR to let it slide and allow the attacker to continue the attack.

      2 - Great call. The view at 0:45 shows how the attacker dives. Left leg sticks out to the left. Right leg dips down. He was never going to try to stand in his feet there.

  2. AC Ajaccio - Toulouse FC

    44' - YC Johan Cavalli (AC Ajaccio) for reckless flying tackle

    45+1' - YC Anthony Marin (AC Ajaccio) for reckless studs tackle

    64' - YC Kévin Lejeune (AC Ajaccio) for reckless stamp

    67' - conflict; should Johan Cavalli have received a 2nd YC?

    75' - YC Qazim Laçi (AC Ajaccio) for reckless studs tackle

    Overall: full control, much respected by players, calm and firm approach, hot situations managed in a very good manner.

    1. 44', 45+1', 64' all correct
      67' YC->RC would have rather inflated this game (especially at 0-3) and he doesn't do thaaat much wrong, eg there is no confrontation. Great prevention by Brisard also, I am now convinced that France has the best Fourth Officials in the world (and THE best, Hicham Zakrani) :-D.
      75' Borderline to SFP is in sight for my taste, but low (enough) intensity makes YC the best choice

      I think Buquet can count himself unfortunate to not be in UEFA Elite, he is without luck to be 'inbetween' Turpin and Bastien, I can remember an excellent performance by him in Olympiacos - Osmanlispor as well as his regular CL designations, and he frequently handles big clashes in Ligue 1 very well.

    2. 44' - Absolutely correct call, love his alertness here to separate Marin immediately from the rest.

      45+1' - Contact is clearly made above the foot with studs-up, this is SFP for me and therefore red card.

      64' - Correct call.

      67' - No need for a 2nd YC here. Well managed by Buquet and well done as well by Brisard to intervene immediately!

      75' - Studs-up tackle above the ankle. For me as well SFP, so red card.

      Mikael is absolutely spot on with his comment on Buquet. He is by far the most trusted referee in France and as well the most respected and he is probably the most reliable referee in Ligue 1 as well (though he had as well some shaky performances this season [Marseille-PSG, Strasbourg-Metz]).

  3. OT: Confirmed, Sánchez Arminio dismissed as head of refereeing in CTA, from now on Velasco Carballo will be on the office.

  4. RayHD - why have you deleted your Twitter?

    1. I had enough.

      - very bad atmosphere around Polish refereeing (Przesmycki camp vs Borski/Rostkowski camp), many cases in courts already... I am disabled person and I would like to avoid being involved in that...
      - aggressive fans blinded by love to their clubs
      - bunch of idiots called 'journalists'

      Taking all into account, most of Polish people are not ready to discuss about refereeing in a good manner. I expected more referees discussing incidents and I got many childish and aggressive fans and also 'journalists'(!) abusing me each day.

      I really hope this blog will be free from stupid fans forever!

    2. Sorry to hear that -- I enjoyed following along (when I was able to translate Polish->English at least) and seeing how things worked in a different country.

    3. RayHD, my solidarity as well. I'm really disappointed for the people. I fully understand the reasons of your choice, I imagine the situation and maybe I would have done the same. It is a pleasure to have you on this blog.

    4. Thank you both! Now, at least I can understand UEFA and other (con)federations' policy to be silent about refereeing. You are not able to explain many things to people who don't want to understand those things.

      Maybe in the future I will create a private profile only for this blog users and other trusted persons. What do you think about such idea?

    5. Question for Chefren.
      Is this blog ready for the WC?

      4 years ago, there was disaster with comments during WC, with fans coming on The3rdteam. I remember insults, some other unpropriate comments etc.

      I really hope that you have some good plan, mechanism to avoid potential problems with fans on the blog!

      All the best!

    6. Question for Chefren.
      Is this blog ready for the WC?

      4 years ago, there was disaster with comments during WC, with fans coming on The3rdteam. I remember insults, some other unpropriate comments etc.

      I really hope that you have some good plan, mechanism to avoid potential problems with fans on the blog!

      All the best!

    7. The only solution seems to be deleting such comments as soon as possible and NOT REPLYING to them until they are deleted by Chefren.

    8. Question for Chefren...Will we be doing analysis and match reports of the games and referees similar to what the 3rd team did in 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016?

    9. @DrMr
      RayHD answered to your question, indeed there isn't any solution if not deleting comments. This is the "problem" of a blog, you can't do more than that. Very often I had the idea to close the blog and to open a forum, a developed platform with many other options, but I think I couldn't manage that. Readers are used to know this site as blog and in my opinion this is the best solution to go on. I can't manage more efforts.
      So I just hope that people will be wise, otherwise there will be for sure problems.
      Ray is also right when he says that it will be a good thing to ignore such comments. No answers should help in discouraging these people.

      @SpiritofTheGame My idea is to wait for a free contribution by all readers by opening a specific discussion for each of the 64 games. Being honest, I can't manage to create an official document as report, the most important thing is discussion about the performance. This is the spirit of the blog. Marks (UEFA system) can be used as well, but first of all verybody wil be entitled to write down his impressions, comments and so on. Then, at the end of the tournament we could discuss about the best / worst performance and so on... by also comparing the matches... if you have other ideas, easy to realize, you are welcome.

    10. My first idea is that we just have to play some sort of a prediction game... Not for any prize but just for analysing who reads Busacca's mind the best :D Please, please, please let's have some prediction games :D

  5. The full appointment for second leg Barrage between TOULOUSE FC / AC AJACCIO is the following :

    27 May 2018 - 21:00

    Referee: Benoît Bastien (FIFA)
    Assistant Referee 1: Frédéric Haquette (FIFA)
    Assistant Referee 2: Hicham Zakrani (FIFA)
    Fourth Official: Thomas Leonard

    I don't know VAR yet

    1. The full appointment for second leg Barrage between FOOTBALL BOURG-EN-BRESSE PÉRONNAS / GRENOBLE FOOT 38 is the following :

      27 May 2018 - 18:00

      Referee: François Letexier (FIFA)
      Assistant Referee 1: Cyril Mugnier (FIFA)
      Assistant Referee 2: Mehdi Rahmouni (FIFA)
      Fourth Official: Oliver Thual

      VAR: Mikael Lesage
      AVAR: Franck Schneider

    2. OT

      I talked in past weeks about the importance of Turkey and Poland in european footbal. Today UEFA Executive Committee decide:
      - 2020 CL final wil take place in Istanbul
      - 2020 EL final will take place in Gdansk

    3. Istanbul is just hosting Super Cup in 2019... Again Champions League Final in 2020?? Not a great decision to be honest!!

    4. That said, the only other stadium to have bid was Estadio Da Luz of Lisbon and that ground hosted the 2014 Champions League Final whereas the Ataturk Olympic Stadium lasted hosted it in probably 2005... So maybe that played it's part!!

    5. Soham, it seems as you would like to keep under your control everything, but you should know that this is not possible. :) Sometimes we have just to accept what is already decided.

    6. There is quite a big logic behind the decision too as I pointed out as well

    7. To complete the appointment shared by @Nathan M. for Toulouse-Ajaccio: Jérôme Brisard and Amaury Delerue (both in UEFA Second Group) are appointed as VARs.

  6. UEFA Women Champions League Final.
    VfL Wolfsburg (GER) - Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)
    Referee: Jana Adámková (CZE)
    AR 1: Sian Massey (ENG)
    AR2: Sanja Rođak-Karšić (CRO)
    FO: Kateryna Monzul (UKR)
    Reserve official: Maryna Striletska (UKR)
    UEFA Delegate: Sviatlana Hrynkevich (BLR)
    UEFA Referee Observer: Maria Luisa Villa Gutiérrez (ESP)

    1. Minute 68' or 69': there was a ghost goal scored by French side. If I'm not wrong, GLT is not there, so the decision was taken by AR1 Sian Massey. Replays are not 100% clear but it looks like ball had entirely crossed the line. It would be a pity to have a ghost goal deciding a Women CL final.


      There was no GLT at EURO 2017, where UEFA were 'lucky'.
      No conclusive angle but that essentially looks like a goal earlier in Kyiv.
      Did anyone see the whole match?

  7. Does anybody knows which kits will be used by referees tomorrow in Kyiv in UCL FINAL.

    1. Old CL jerseys with CL Final print on it.

    2. Any idea about the colour?

    3. Probably the color between orange and green on the spectrum of visible light :)

    4. Are you Milorad Mazic?? You know everything :D :D

    5. RMA will be white and LIV red so it can be even yellow jerseys.

    6. I am :)
      I sad probably...

      Of course, they will use standard UCL kits, with print of the event, like every year

    7. I said nothing specialy smart :)

  8. Pride and honour are the two main emotions that Milorad Mažić felt on learning of his assignment to referee the UEFA Champions League final.

    "I think if you ask any European referee what their dream is when they start out on their international career, they would say it's to referee the Champions League final," says the 45-year-old from Serbia as he looks forward to taking charge of Saturday's encounter between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Kyiv.

    "It's the biggest European club match, a big crowd, fantastic atmosphere, two big clubs – it's very, very special, and I'm proud to be a part of the occasion together with my team," he reflects.

    Mažić will be accompanied in Kyiv by a Serbian refereeing team – assistant referees Milovan Ristić and Dalibor Djurdjević, and additional assistant referees Nenad Djokić and Danilo Grujić. Clément Turpin (France) is the fourth official, with Serbian reserve assistant referee Nemanja Petrović completing the refereeing line-up.

    "We work hard together as a team," says Mažić, who comes from Vrbas, a town of 25,000 people situated some 130km north of Belgrade. "We're constantly discussing our work, diligently preparing for every match and looking to improve – because the quality of a refereeing performance in a game depends upon the entire team being at its best."

    Mažić, married and the father of two sons, joined the international list in 2009 and has already refereed two premium games on the football calendar – last year's FIFA Confederations Cup final between Chile and Germany, and the 2016 UEFA Super Cup match pitting Real Madrid against Sevilla.

    A company director in the meat industry, Mažić came into refereeing in his early 20s. "I suffered a serious injury playing football. The game was my life, and I wanted to stay in it, so people suggested that I become a referee. After my first game, I said to myself: 'This is for me!'"

    He believes referees should develop their own style and personality, adding: "I watched all the great referees and I have taken something from all of them, but I don't think you should try and be a 'copy' of someone else," he reflects.

    Mažić and his team will prepare for Saturday's final as if it were a normal match. "We will focus on building up our concentration to be ready for the game – and it's important to make a good start to a match, it gives you confidence for the rest of the game.

    "We are preparing as well by studying the teams' tactics and player characteristics – this is something that UEFA considers to be extremely important, and it's invaluable for referees.”

    Top-level football's tactical and technical development over the years has meant that referees have had to adapt to the evolution. "The game is very different to what it was a couple of decades ago," Mažić says. "It's quicker, the players are fitter. So the challenge has been for referees and refereeing to keep up with the changes – this also applies to the laws of the game.

    "Refereeing a match is also about people management on the pitch – you may have everything else, the technical knowledge and so on, but if you don't have people skills, you're missing something."

    And what of the future? Mažić is determined to maintain the high standards he has set for himself. "You have to keep your passion, and set yourself targets and objectives," he insists. "Because if you don't, you might as well do something else."

  9. Szymon Marciniak accepted offers from MLS (Howard Webb), Saudi Pro League (Mark Clattenburg) and Chinese Super League.

    Next season he:
    - will referee 12 games in Saudi Arabia
    - will travel to United States several times per 2-3 weeks in order to handle MLS games
    - will handle some Chinese Super League games (they offered him 600.000 $ for the whole season but he refused it because he wouldn't be able to referee in UEFA competitions)

    It means he won't be appearing in Polish Ekstraklasa as often as before. Most likely he was annoyed by constant critic from Polish fans and media.

    1. You sure about this MLS news? This would be a big deal for the referees’ union here in North America.

    2. Most important thing for us (but of course also for him), can he keep the badge as FIFA Polish referee? Otherwise, this would be a big news, he will disappear from UEFA competitions, and this would be more than a pity if you ask me.

    3. Constant unfair criticism from fans who know nothing are the main reason why we are losing talented referees... Clattenburg also left because of the cribbing managers and fans... Now the question is will he keep his FIFA badge?? By the looks of it he will spend half of the season in Saudi Arabia, USA and China so will he be allowed to continue as FIFA and UEFA Elite... If not, it will be a very sad news!!

    4. @usaref: Yes. Howard Webb invited him. The source:

      @Chefren, Soham: Yes, he will keep his FIFA badge because those will be only 'guest' performances, not a contract for the whole season (like China FA proposed).

      It seems to be a beginning of the new era: the best referees will be invited by rich federations to handle their biggest games.

    5. With all the respect but UEFA will need to increase referee taxes or best refs will follow Marciniak's steps...
      I don't say taxes are low but they have to be higher.

      Or to 'cut' Elite group of refs (10-12 names maximum) and to give them a lot of higher 'salaries'.

      Your opinion, what is the best solution?

    6. Thanks, @RayHD.

      No confirmation in the US yet from MLS or PRO. Will try to track down what I can learn on side of the Atlantic

    7. @DrMr: we all know the real elite group is smaller than on the paper, so...

      Nonetheless, I think the big changes in refereeing are upcoming.

    8. Webb has told at least one MLS referee that the story is not true. So we will see if that’s based on a technicality or if this was faulty reporting.

    9. Webb is adamant that the Marciniak story, as it relates to MLS, is not true.