Tuesday, 5 June 2018

On the Road to WC 2018: Stage 6, Focus on UEFA

The last confederation, of course only in alphabetical order,  that we have to analyze is UEFA. For sure, this will be the most challenging and difficult work, given the high number of selected officials and also the big expectations by many people about UEFA officiating. 
(c) uefa.com

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

Referee: Felix Brych (GER)
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (TUR)
Referee: Sergey Karasev (RUS)
Referee: Björn Kuipers (NED)
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (POL)
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP)
Referee: Milorad Mažić (SRB)
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA)
Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN)
Referee: Clément Turpin (FRA)
Assistant Referee: Mark Borsch (GER)
Assistant Referee: Stefan Lupp (GER)
Assistant Referee: Bahattin Duran (TUR)
Assistant Referee: Tarık Ongun (TUR)
Assistant Referee: Anton Averyanov (RUS)
Assistant Referee: Tikhon Kalugin (RUS)
Assistant Referee: Sander van Roekel (NED)
Assistant Referee: Erwin Zeinstra (NED)
Assistant Referee: Paweł Sokolnicki (POL)
Assistant Referee: Tomasz Listkiewicz (POL)
Assistant Referee: Pau Cebrián Devis (ESP)
Assistant Referee: Roberto Díaz Pérez del Palomar (ESP)
Assistant Referee: Milovan Ristić (SRB)
Assistant Referee: Dalibor Đurđević (SRB)
Assistant Referee: Elenito Di Liberatore (ITA)
Assistant Referee: Mauro Tonolini (ITA)
Assistant Referee: Jure Praprotnik (SVN)
Assistant Referee: Robert Vukan (SVN)
Assistant Referee: Nicolas Danos (FRA)
Assistant Referee: Cyril Gringore (FRA)
Video Assistant Referee: Bastian Dankert (GER)
Video Assistant Referee: Artur Soares Dias (POR) 
Video Assistant Referee: Paweł Gil (POL)
Video Assistant Referee: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
Video Assistant Referee: Tiago Bruno Lopes Martins (POR)
Video Assistant Referee: Danny Makkelie (NED)
Video Assistant Referee: Daniele Orsato (ITA)
Video Assistant Referee: Paolo Valeri (ITA)
Video Assistant Referee: Felix Zwayer (GER)

The first remark to make about UEFA is the same made for CONMEBOL: all the selected referees (10) have a pair of assistant referees from the same nationality. There isn't any exception. So, we can again say that on paper all names could get matches. In addition, UEFA is the confederation with the highest number of selected officials: 39. Thank to VAR presence, this is for sure a record for European refereeing at World Cup. Interesting also to note that for the first time ever, there will be Category 1 and Category 2 referees, not only Elite. Again, the reason for that is VAR presence.

According to our opinion, the first name to be mentioned, in terms of experience, consideration by FIFA committee and recent form is Björn Kuipers. The Dutch is for sure a big candidate for the final. He will be at his second World Cup, after 2014 experienced. In addition to his impressive palmares, that we don't need to report again, he has also officiated recently for the second time Europa League final and he has managed it without problems. A very good performance in Lyon. Being appointed for WC Final, would be for sure something epic for him and for the whole Dutch refereeing. He has also a very important and strong argument at his side: a VAR from the same nationality, who is an Elite referee as well, Danny Makkelie. We think that they will work always together. Another good argument in favor of Kuipers is the fact that Dutch national team will not be there. Therefore, among UEFA officials, at least on the paper, he has very likely at moment the biggest chances, but let's repeat again, this is just an analysis pre-tournament and then everything can happen on the pitch in both positive and negative way.

Felix Brych from Germany will appear for the second time in a WC as well. The German is in an excellent form, the last KO stage of Champions League has for sure confirmed that. However, differently from Kuipers, Brych has still to make his final breakthrough at FIFA level, or maybe, to say it better, to gain further reputation from FIFA committee: the participation in 2014, given the expectations, was not so good, according to our opinion. He officiated only two games in group stage, while he could have expected to get more.  He ended the tournament after Belgium - Russia, his second appearance. Now the story seems to be totally different: he is among the candidates even for the final, if Germany and performances will make it possible for him, of course. Two German VAR will be there, Felix Zwayer and Bastian Dankert. Like Kuipers, this will be a very important argument.

Cüneyt Çakır has a big reputation by FIFA Referees Committee, given his long and more than impressive experience in FIFA tournaments. However, differently from the aforementioned referees, he will attend the World Cup coming from a not so good KO stage in Champions League. The form of the Turkish at moment is not excellent, but this doesn't prevent to think that he could be a candidate for something big. In our opinion, he is a candidate for the final as well. However, he will have to improve his performances. Let's remember that the Turkish has also officiated important games at FIFA level. In 2014 he got a semifinal, this time it is therefore logical to think that he could reach more. 

Milorad Mažić will attend his second WC as well. The experience in 2014 for the Serbian had been not good. He officiated two games in group stage, in which he got many criticisms. Now, something different is for sure possible. He has managed to get Champions League final, his performance in this game was an expected level, so we are allowed to think that he is a candidate for the final as well. It already happened that a referee appointed for Champions League final in the same year got also World Cup final (2010, Howard Webb). However, the case of the Serbian is a bit  different, because he was appointed directly for Champions League final, after only two minor appearances in Europa League. In any case, it wont be difficult for him to have a better World Cup than 2014. We must also remember that he has officiated Confederations Cup in Russia one year ago, this could maybe make a bit more difficult to get the final appointment again, but of course not impossible.

Italian Gianluca Rocchi will be at his first World Cup, after having suffered for many years to be the shadow of his countryman Nicola Rizzoli. Finally, now it will be his turn. He waited for this big call. Basically, we think that, given his great experience as Elite referee also at FIFA level (he was preselected for 2014 WC as well), he could reach for sure KO stage. Maybe quarterfinal or semifinal in case of very good performances. A negative argument for him is for sure the fact that - but he hasn't faults for that of course - Rizzoli got the final of 2014 tournament. This will not help him, but at the same time one must also mention the fact that Italian national team will not be there, so a very positive note for the Italian  Last but not least, with three VAR officials from Italy (Irrati, Orsato, Valeri), for sure he will not have communication problems with them: we think that, among the three, Irrati should the one working with him (they come from the same region, Tuscany). 

Slovenian Damir Skomina is, in terms of reputation and chances at WC, in a very similar situation to Rocchi, if you ask us. The Slovenian will be at his firs World Cup after having finally managed to reach it. We can't forget the disappointment in 2014, he was so close to be selected for the tournament in Brazil, but he was very likely forced to miss it due to his assistant referee's mistakes in a very important play off back in 2013 (France - Ukraine). The Slovenian in the recent two seasons has shown more than good performances, deserving a  call for a final (Europa League in 2017). However, this season he did unluckily soem crucial mistakes in CL semifinal. This was a very negative fact in his path to World Cup, because before that game, he had been for sure excellent. He will find for sure a compromise and he will recover, we think that his realistic target at moment is a quarterfinal or a semifinal. To add, he had been a candidate for 2017 Confederations Cup final one year ago in Russia, committee will for sure remember that.

Polish Szymon Marciniak is a referee with a great potential. He has achieved his first participation to WC, making the Polish refereeing proud. Before the KO stage of European competitions ended a few days ago, he had shown always impressive performances and in the recent three seasons he has managed to officiate UEFA Euro Under 21 Final and a Round of 16 at EURO 2016. This hasd enforced his position as Elite referee and the selection for WC by FIFA has been just a natural consequence. However, a controversial performance in a very important CL game, Tottenham- Juventus, and an injury occurred, just a few weeks before the world cup. According to our opinion he can reach KO stage, maybe a Round of 16, as first experience, and being still quite young, this could be a more than excellent achievement, considering also that he could attend the next 2 editions (at least) of the major tournament. A Polish VAR, Paweł Gil, will very likely work at his side. 

Clément Turpin has managed to attend his first WC after a more than impressive growth that is under the eyes of the people who observed him in his recent games. His skills have improved in a more than blatant way and he has got many important games in UEFA competitions. The call for World Cup is the fair reward for a referee who can be definitely proud of what he achieved, exactly in he right time before a so important tournament. Keeping this standard, Ko stage will be for sure possible, but basically, we think that he will officiate some games in group stage. Indeed, differently from the other referees, we have the sensation that the call for the French was a "last minute" decision, or in any case, he was more in doubt than other names (the most logical thing coming in our mind is that he was maybe in duel with Hațegan for a spot.) Like Marciniak, he is still young and he has a long future waiting for him.

Antonio Mateu Lahoz from Spain has been selected for this World Cup, it will be the first participation for him. Differently from other referees, we are a bt in trouble while having to assess his recent moment of form. We could say that he has shown expected level performance, but for sure the play off between Italy and Sweden on last November is a big point for discussion. Let's say that his performance had been not so bad but at the same time he could have managed it better. Differently from other UEFA referees, despite of the fact that he comes from a  very strong country in terms of football - if not the strongest one - he has not impressed in recent times. In the last KO stage of Champions League, he has officiated an English derby in which a crucial mistake has been committed and a goal has been wrongly disallowed. He will have of course the chances of a good World Cup as well, but, let's say, he doesn't catch our eye. Maybe things will go differently also because he is from Spain, but basically, we shouldn't expect him in KO stage. We see him only in Group stage.

Sergey Karasev from Russia has been called for World Cup because he is from the host country. Saying it with all the respect, given also the recent form shown in some matches, he doesn't deserve to officiate games at the major tournament, and he should be only a reserve. However, this is only our opinion and we all know that a referee from the host is planned to officiate at least one game, in group stage.  This will happen for sure.

Having already mentioned some VAR officials, we should also add the missing ones: Tiago Bruno Lopes Martins and Artur Soares Dias from Portugal will be there as well, with the oalready mentioned 7 VAR from UEFA. 


  1. Are the referees already in Russia?

    1. Yes they reached Russia by 2nd June... And the final preparations etc have commenced from 3rd June!!

    2. Thanks for this info, Soham:)

  2. The weakest UEFA squad ever.

    1. Stronger than 2014 squad for sure

    2. What a joke ("stronger than 2014")

      Cakir, Brych, Kuipers and Mazic were in Brasil 2014.

      Webb, Rizzoli, Proenca, Velasco Carballo and Ericksson are surely much better than Skomina, Rocchi, Mateu Lahoz, Marciniak, Turpin (+ Karasev)

    3. The two squads seem comparable to me. Cakir, Brych, Kuipers, and Mazic are better referees now than they were in 2014 and they are on par with Webb, Rizzoli, Proenca, Velasco Carballo, and Ericksson circa 2014. And surely Skomina, Rocchi, Marciniak, and Turpin are similar to the 2014 versions of Cakir, Brych, Kuipers, and Mazic.

    4. Drew Burd just puts it forward beautifully... In other words Brych, Cakir, Kuipers, Mazic are currently kind of better referees than Velasco or Proenca were in 2014!!

    5. Why the comparison with 2014 and not with 2010? Or even with 2006?

      As Collina said UEFA has lost many great referees those last years and if we compare the current elite with the one a few years back, the result is disappointing.

    6. I would say it would be better for the performances to speak... I hope this group will prove with their performances about what their capabilities are!!

    7. I always miss Clattenburg.

  3. Hope that will be a minimum of errors as VAR is presente in Russia. Will SEE how it works. For FIFA will be an important challenge VAR

  4. What are the referee kits this WC?

    1. Adidas 2018 kits I would assume!

    2. https://www.refereeworld.com/kategorie/schiedsrichterbekleidung/adidas-referee-18/

      I have every format of Adidas shirt since the 'revolution' in 2006 and this set is easily my least favourite, both aesthetically and practically.

      Whoever designed them must work for a company producing the buzzer patch that goes on the referee's shoulder, they are going to get a lot more exposure than ever before ;-).

    3. Mikael,
      I'm curious about the "revolution" you mention. What happened?

    4. If you look at the shirts worn in EURO 2004 (bland colours, not modern technology) compared to WC 2006 (fluorescent colours, silver strip of trim on the shirt), I think Adidas changed the way they made (referee) shirts during this period in a big way.

      Adidas 04

      Adidas 06

    5. In 1994 when FIFA finally moved away from the predominantly black uniforms for referee's was innovative. IMO, those were some of the best looking and most unique kits ever worn by referee's in a WC.




      And in '98 with the pinstripe design what catchy also. Then in 2002 FIFA went bland and boring like they have for 2018.

  5. Interesting interview with Felix Tangawarima, famous former AFCON referee from Zimbabwe- Janie Sikazwe was his protégé in CAF, and now he attends his first WC.


    1. Not impossible... But extremely difficult...


Thank you for writing a comment on our blog!