Thursday, 12 July 2018

2013 - 2018: the rise of Néstor Pitana

Argentinian Néstor Pitana has been assigned as WC final referee. He has followed the steps of his countryman Horacio Elizondo, who got this honor in 2006. Let's have a closer look at the recent years of Néstor Pitana as FIFA referee. 
Néstor Pitana became referee for Argentinian federation in 2006, when he was 31 years old, then a few years later, in 2010, he got his FIFA badge. The "lucky" year for him was 2013: indeed he was selected as alternative name to his countryman Diego Abal as referee from Argentina on the road to World Cup 2014. Abal had attended 2013 Confederations Cup in which he got only one game. Pitana followed as replacement, starting his experience in FIFA tournaments. 

He was then selected for 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, played in United Arab Emirates. In this occasion, he officiated two group stage games and a Round of 16. This maybe could have been not enough for a major call, to follow on next year, but he had success and he attended the World Cup in Brazil, after having joined only one FIFA tournament as preparation.

In Brazil his appearance was overall very, very solid and maybe a bit unexpected: he officiated three group stage games and then he was also selected for a sonorous Quarterfinal: the full European clash between France and Germany. This was for sure a more than big achievement, considering also the fact that he had joined very late the process of pre-selection for World Cup.

Year after year, Pitana confirmed himself at very high level and with a great reputation by FIFA committee. In 2016, he attended the Olympic games in Brazil, where he was also assigned to a semifinal involving Nigeria and Germany. 

One year later, in 2017, he got the call for Confederations Cup, in Russia. He officiated a group stage game and again a semifinal . In the same year he was in the middle for more than decisive games in CONMEBOL (2018 WC qualifiers). He was also selected by FIFA for an intercontinental play off, the second leg between Australia and Honduras. A call as main referee for WC 2018 followed and this time it was more than expected.

Néstor Pitana has officiated 4 games so far, waiting for the final, planned for Sunday. He has started the tournament with the opener: Russia - Saudi Arabia, ended 5-0. Then, he has appearead again in Mexico - Sweden.In KO Stage he has got a round of 16, Croatia - Denmark, a quartefinal, Uruguay - France and then now the final. All the performances have been good, the Argentinian has distinguished himself for his skills in players management. He shows always a natural authority that for sure is something coming from a strong personality. Maybe this was a very important argument in favor of his final appointment.

He will officiate his 9th WC game in occasion of Sunday's final, the record of Irmatov is impossible to reach, but we guess this will not be a worry for him. A referee from Argentina will whistle again the final of a WC 12 years after the last time, indeed, as already reported, in 2006 Elizondo did the same in Germany. He also officiated the opener of the tournament. So, there are for sure many similar aspects between them.

Starting a World Cup as clear candidate for the final can be a burden: for Pitana, it wasn't. He officiated his games with a free mind, without feeling under pressure and keeping always everything under control. Last but not least, we must add that he had only one VAR review in the tournament, in occasion of Mexico - Sweden. Following the check made on the pitch, he decided to confirm is decsion and to play on. This was for sure a supportable choice.

We can read, at least in my opinion, this final assignement also as reward for everything he reached in the last 5 years, so it is now time to wish good luck to the officiating team!   

50 comments:

  1. I identify the Olympic tournament and the Confederations Cup as the major tournaments with which he established himself as a big name in FIFA... He proved with good performances in these tournaments that the World Cup 2014 is no fluke... The culmination of his career with this World Cup Final is for sure not at all undeserved... I wish Pitana and his team all the very best for Sunday!

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  2. The Argentine referee Nestor Pitana was chosen by FIFA to whistle the end of Russia's world, Sunday at 16 hours, between France and Croatia. Interestingly, he was also beeping the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

    Nestor Pitana is second to drive the opening game and the final of the same world. The first Argentine and also was Horacio Elizondo, in 2006.

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  3. One can wonder if Abal had kept a high level of fitness, and not f*cked Italy - Japan, especially with Grondona's backing- maybe it would have been him attending WC 2014. C'est la vie.

    Pitana reminds me on CONMEBOL's 'version' of Howard Webb. Not always performing on a high level, but a particular style of leniency needing a big charisma and natural authority, but solving the most important matches well, when le jeux sont fais.
    I can remember some of Webb's unbelievable matches (ATL-BAR, BRA-CHI), no one could match him on his top form.
    Is Pitana so good as that? I never saw him in such circumstances to properly evaluate.

    The problem is, there were no really challenging matches at this championship, besides BEL-BRA and FRA-ARG. So many officials showed always good performances, and there were a lot of deserving names very close together. The only outstanding performance was by Milorad Mazic, but he was 'knocked out' by Croatia.

    Pitana handled two quite challenging matches: MEX-SWE, URU-FRA doing a good job. I think this is more than some of his rivals for the Final.

    So he was not that far ahead of other referees, all of whom can be sad that they missed being sent to the WC Final.

    A word on Faghani. He deserved more than a 1/8 in this championship. If Pitana was always the plan, could he not have taken Cunha's Semifinal? But honestly, according to my opinion he didn't deserve the final.
    His style relied on a unilateral top-down authority, supported by a very high self-esteem (push on Kroos et al), and using his whistle a lot. It absolutely succeeded in eg Olympics Final and big matches in this WC. But I think he should be more versatile, and be able to adapt to a co-operative approach, to become the best referee in the world (he is already very close). I know this is a minority opinion, by the way.

    So overall we can ask the question (like Rizzoli in Brazil),

    Did anyone deserve it MORE than Néstor Pitana?
    IMO, no.

    Congratulations to all!!

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    1. Partially agreed and partially disagreed! :)

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    2. Interesting analysis Mikael, and finally a comment that tends to be objective instead of lobbying for or against certain referees, as we have seen too often on the comments here.

      I would add, if there is only one referee deserving the final, then it means the level was very low, so for me it's normal that you have to pick one among the good ones. Other options would have been Faghani, Ricci, Kuipers, Mazic but the decision had to be taken.

      Pitana did nothing exceptional as he did not have to: his games were always under control, and all crucial decisions taken correctly.

      I'll also have my word on Kuipers: his management and personality are one of the best in the world of refereeing and have allowed him to be constant and reliable for years (I cannot name a game that got out of his hands in the past 4 years), but maybe we are forgetting the Neymar penalty corrected with VAR. This was an unusual mistake by him, and not a small one if you ask me. If it wasn't for VAR, he might have ended up like Nishimura in 2014. I can see the two episodes as comparable. Pitana, Ricci, Faghani, Mazic did not have such blatant mistakes at this world cup. I wonder whether I am the only one thinking this way.

      Best of luck to all officials and VARs involved in the final! This has been an overall successful world cup in terms of refereeing. I just wish there had been less leniency concerning dissent and simulation, FIFA should discuss about that. That said, let's hope the good level is kept until the end!!

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    3. I agree. Kuipers is fantastic ref, but without VAR he would finish this WC after first game

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    4. Same applies for Mazic... Without VAR he would be going home after group stages... Even with VAR there is a crucial mistake in Brazil v Belgium!

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    5. @Osborne Since you mentioned Mazic... Going into that dissection Kuipers has 1 crucial mistake in 4 games and Mazic has 2 crucial mistakes in 3 games lol... That said, I personally never said Pitana is less deserving than Kuipers and I feel Faghani was overall better than both of them... My point from the beginning was that Pitana wasn't so extraordinary to get 3 KO games, his R16 or QF game could've gone to another referee to ensure a more fair distribution of games... Pitana for Final absolutely isn't a problem and see deserves it too but he doesn't deserve 5 games when all others but two are on 3 or less games... That was the point!

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    6. @Soham: on this I surely agree with you, either R16 or QF could have been avoided for Pitana. Maybe the committee was expecting Argentina to go further and prevent him from refereeing the semis and finals.

      As for Mazic, I did not mention his mistakes as he had a bigger problem that took him out of the final (Croatia), unfortunately ;)

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    7. Even if Croatia was eliminated Mazic wouldn't get the final because no UEFA referees were possible this time because of political reasons... Pitana for final is more than perfect but the overappointment to 5 matches overall and 3 matches in KO stage should've been avoided as some referees with 3 matches are equally good as Pitana so one can have the feeling that the no. of matches appointed doesn't really highlight fairness !

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  4. He had the opening and closing!!! He was in charge of 5 matches!!! Is there a shortage of quality ref in this world cup??? It is more a political decision than a well throughout fair one. Faghani for the third place!!! Sure he deserves a final providing that his performance was spot on.

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  5. Wait a second. He started refereeing in 2006? Only 12 years ago???

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    1. He became a referee for the Argentine Federation in 2006. But he of course became a referee at lower level many years before. :-)

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  6. I think most people miss one important thing when talking about how this final is to much in term of number of appointments either for Pitana himself or CONMEBOL in general. Who knows When will we have next world cup that doesnt have Comnebol team in F4. And having European refs in past 2 finals it would be unimaginable to have maybe 5 or 6 WCs in row that didnt have South American in the final. So i think this came as a great opportunity for committee to give this final to ref from conmebol

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  7. OT: Interesting video from 2014 World Cup Assistant Referee Sean Hurd: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nE193oqf_w

    Doesn't say much that we don't know, but he does mention that, at least in 2014, every official, no matter what role, got paid a flat fee of $50,000 for the whole tournament regardless of the number of matches they did.

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    1. This time it's of course different... I have verified for multiple sources!

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  8. 48 hours before the opening game of this World cup ,on 12 th June , Collina called Pitana a Rock on the pitch after announcing his name for the opening game officiating. It should have probably be seen as dropping of a big hint by Collina that , if Argentina were not playing the FINAL , PITANA was the obvious choice for the final. That was a big hint , but despite of which I predicted that Kuipers just edges Pitana for the FINAL. Also , thre was a need for appointing a FINAL Referee outside UEFA , since the last two world cup FINALS were officiated by Europeans in the form of Howard Webb and Nicolla Rizolli in that order. It would have sent a wrong signal to referees of other Confiderations , if an European had officiated the 3 rd consecutive World cup Final. All said and done Nestor Pitana is a brilliant appointment. He is a top ref of FIFA and among the best if not the best.

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  9. Pitana is not the best.
    Another caprice of Collina.

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    1. Who would be your best, Alberto?

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  10. In 2010 World cup , at that time young ref Ravshan Iramatov was the best ref of the tournament by far , even brilliantly spotting a very slight controlling of the ball by at that time announcing on the stage 20 year old Thomas Muller of Germany who had a brilliant World cup , in the quarter
    finals , which was his 2 nd yellow card of the world cup ( 2010 World cup yellow card amnesty for single yellow cards at the completion of Quarter finals was introduced to protect players from missing the FINAL , even in case of single yellow in semi) and eventually ruled Muller out of the semi for Germany who went on to lose it to a solitary Carlos Puyol headed goal of the game . But despite of Ravshan Iramatov's Excellent performance , the committee went for the safer option of Experienced Howard Webb who some what saved the FINAL being a one sided game by showing Dutch player De Jong a yellow only for a high Studs stab on the chest of a Spanish player , very early part of the game , when a red card was clearly justified . Ravshan Iramatov , thereafter never reproduced his Excellent performances of 2010 in 2014 and even this World cup of 2018, probably will never get the FINAL of a World cup.

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    1. He will have one more chance in Qatar. Maybe even he and Faghani will enter that tournament with slight advantage over others because it will be on Asian soil

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    2. I don't think, this will be an advantage. The final referee never came from the home continent in at lease 30 years.

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    3. I don't think Irmatov will get a chance in 2022

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    4. Why not, He will be 45 at the time

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    5. Because Asia has many referees at the moment who are in much better form and showing much better performances on a regular basis in AFC games!

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    6. Form is temporary, class is permanent :D I am sure that he can return to good form in next 4 years

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    7. Irmatov's decline after 2010 has been quite clearly noticeable and visible on the pitch. In 2014 his struggles began to show and in 2018 it became more than obvious that he was no longer the same referee. Sure and and all referee's can re-discover their old level and form. But these past past 8 years haven't shown much hope and/or promise for Ravshan.

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  11. The next World Cup will be played from November 21st to December 18th 2022 in Qatar.wow what about domestic leagues and cl,el etc.?

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    1. The calendar will be changed, plus most of the leagues have winter break then.

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    2. I see,,will be interesting wc,,but big clubs won't be happy which sends lot of player to wc

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    3. Today Fifa said that for that year leagues will have to start three weeks earlier, and finish three weeks later. That is all

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    4. Will names like Cakir, Cunha, Skomina stay for that tournament as they will turn 46 by 2022 Nov - Dec? This is one thing I am curious to find out!

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    5. I already have my fingers crossed for Cakir... The World Cup is over now and the China offer looms large now! :(

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    6. Yes, you got right: probably now Çakır will leave for go to China. In effect it's a very good offer! He may do like Clattenburg: he will appoint the chinese referees but also himself maybe with Duran and Ongun :)

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    7. Michael Oliver of England sure to referee in 2022 World cup and expected to be a top ref in that cup.

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    8. I'd love if he will the referee of the final in Qatar 2022 ;)

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    9. What about Pitana? Any chance for the final again :)

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    10. No ref will get a second World cup final again. Ruled out.

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  12. And Pitana is now 43 years, there is no age bar of 45 years age , which rule was removed by FIFA,in 2015. And with the option of referees at their disposal , FIFA may not need to look for refs whose age has crossed 45.

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  13. I would like to tell something about ref kits in the final. It is not excluded that they cant wear red kits, look at match france croatia 1998.god. Ref was in red kits.

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    1. As far as I remember, the colours of the referees' kits were black, yellow and red in 1998. French goalkeeper Barthez wore black and Croatian goalkeeper Ladic yellow - so Garcia-Aranda Encinar didn't have any other option than to "select" red.

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  14. https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/news/pitana-it-s-an-indescribable-feeling

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  15. What no-one mentioned so far: Pitana is often described as a "natural authority". I myself really appreciate how "naturally" he handles his lank hair. He neither shaves it completely nor did he decide for implants - he just wears it with "naturalness" like it grows.

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    1. Excellent point made :D :D

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    2. If you look like a bodybuilder you can do whatever you want

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  16. OT interview with Čeferin the President of Uefa talking about this World Cup, the next one in Qatar, VAR etc https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=-Hrf9RHmskE

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  17. Somewhat OT

    If you scroll to the bottom of the pdf link, you can see a summary of all of the WC Final referees and their performance up until 2002. An interesting read, at least for me, especially the older performances.

    https://www.fifa.com/mm/document/fanfest/magazine/magazine06-06p.8en_3377.pdf

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    1. I don't like that superficial summary which could include much more interesting details:

      - In 1958, Austrian Fritz Seipelt was assigned to handle the final but had to be replaced by Maurice Guigue due to an upset stomach.

      - In 1994, Danish Peter Mikkelsen was proposed for the final by the committee instead of Sandor Puhl but rejected by president Joao Havelange.

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    2. Very interesting indeed. But for me eve more interesting thing was to see that some refs managed matches in qualifiers for that WC in multiple confederations. I would like to see that happening again

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