Monday, 24 December 2018

Referee of the Year - César Ramos is the best CONCACAF referee of 2018

The last contest of our "Referee of the Year", in cooperation with, has ended. César Ramos from Mexico is, according to our readers, the best CONCACAF referee of 2018. 
The Mexican has obtained 263 points. He has been selected for 2018 World Cup in Russia. In this competition he has handled two group stage games and a round of 16. His selection for the major tournament for national teams has been the best reward for his previous experiences in FIFA tournaments. Earlier in the end of 2017, he had indeed officiated 2017 Club World Final. Being still a relatively young referee (35 years old) he has for sure many years waiting for him as FIFA referee and very likely the best has still to come if everything will go in the right direction. That's what we wish to him. 

Second placed is Mark Geiger, very experienced FIFA referee from USA with 220 points. He has been selected for his second World Cup, after having appeared four years ago in Brazil. Similarly to 2014 WC, he has been appointed for three games, in this case two group stage matches and a round of 16. This was for sure something expected after the very positive impression he had made in Brazil. Maybe he could have reached more, but still something very good. In addition, he has been called as VAR for 2018 FIFA Club World Cup in UAE. Being already 44 years old, maybe he could retire soon, he can be very proud of what he achieved on recent seasons. 

Jair Marrufo from USA is the third referee in this ranking with 213 points. His 2018 has been for sure a very particular year. We could say this was for him the year of "FIFA comeback". Indeed, the 41 years old from El Paso (Texas) was already monitored by FIFA before 2010 World Cup and he was a preselected referee for the tournament in South Africa. However, for some reasons, he didn't manage to make it and he was excluded. At the same time, his countryman Geiger became the first option for USA and Marrufo was out of the spotlights. Then, this year he has managed to make it and he has been called for 2018 World Cup in Russia. He got a game in group stage (Belgium - Tunisia) in which he showed an expected level performance. A few months later he has been again selected by FIFA for 2018 Club World Cup in UAE. After having been assigned to a second-round game, he has been appointed for the final, between Al Ain and Real Madrid. This has been for sure the most important moment in his international career, and, given the age, he could be still in contention for WC 2022 in Qatar. 

CLICK HERE to read the full ranking.

Since this was the last contest, the competition is over and we want to thank all readers who have participated, with a special wish for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 


  1. To administrators and all bloggers my warmest wishes for a plenty joyful Christmas. Peace and happiness

  2. On Sunday, there were three top clashes in Portugal all with an important effect on the top of the table, and all revealed three interesting refereeing shows.

    Tiago Martins handled FC Porto - Rio Ave. Game was much more challenging than could have been expected, and the referees were busy right until the final whistle. I found Martins performance a bit of a mixed bag, but if one is to summarise shortly it was rather okay.
    Martins allowed the players a lot of freedom in this match, which helped facilitate a flowing piece of football, supported by a sophisticated foul detection. Sometimes it was too much though, and his management didn't always convince me (good verbal warning for PI at 19', but what about two heavy Brahimi tackles without admonition and borderline SPA foul at 48'). All YCs given were correct including a 2nd caution, he should caution Pereira at +92' for provoking Coentrão though.
    Martins didn't show to be the most extroverted referee, but I liked how he managed the players. Cognisant of this, he played as a 'diplomat', always being reasonable and on a level with the players. They responded well to him. His firmness when booking Coentrão was excellent, staring him down in the eyes; referee 'won' this situation.
    He sensed when the tension was rising and gave two cautions for dissent at 54' (this could have been avoided by whistling smarter though). Really good reaction at a reckless tackle in front of benches at 57' 'killed' any potential for a riot.
    He could work to avoid some irritating decisions, eg. pedanticism about throw-ins, it served the inflame players (especially Rio Ave here) rather than calm the match down.
    VAR correctly supported play on at a penalty call at 62'.
    There are too many points for improvement that prevent me talking about a very good performance, but Martins still did well in a real challenging match.

    Artur Soares Dias handled the top clash between Benfica - Sporting Braga. Actually, the 6-2 score made for a relatively light work for Portugal's highest rated referee. As we know him, very 'laidback' optic of Soares Dias- but most important, fully concentrated.
    Soares Dias never overreacted, nor did he miss any reckless / SPA fouls. His style 'defeats' exaggerating players which I like. He calmly explained his decisions to players when needed, and showed the required determination when needed. As Vlad said when he reported on him in a small Lisbon derby- "he knows when to step in".
    Full expected level but hard to really say more because the match was a relative easy one.

    Luís Godinho, thirty-three years old UEFA 3rd Cat. referee, whistled Vitória Guimarães - Sporting. I was totally impressed with him, who confirmed my positive impression after Benfica - Sporting. Really mature performance, he knew exactly what this match required from it's referee and executed it. Disciplinary control was very good. Foul detection was slightly weaker though. Match was actually quite tense, but referee ensured it passed without problems. He should add more additional time though. He reminds me a lot on Anthony Taylor.
    One rather problematic situation can be found at 51', AR1 missed an offside before an incorrect freekick outside for a DOGSO foul, but VAR eventually solved the situation correctly. In fact, Godinho broke the protocol by having an OFR for what was an offside mistake, but for the audience it was a good, common-sensical decision. Talking about ARs, they both made quite a high number of minor mistakes.
    I am convinced that Luís Godinho will ascend to a high level in UEFA, if he carries on like this.

    So, rather a good day of refereeing in Liga Nos. Well done.

    Aside, I want to wish everyone on the blog a happy Christmas! Best wishes to all.

    1. As always, excellent reports. It's really appreciated. Merry Christmas to all readers, as well!

  3. As of there was any doubt. Mexico has been, is and will continue to set the referee standard for CONCACAF.

  4. From serie A game Frosinone - Milan:
    This goal has been disallowed after an OFR, called by VAR.
    Referee rewatched the incident and annulled the goal due to that holding in the midfield. Do you think this was an obvious mistake and VAR intervention was then justified?

    1. Not clear and obvious mistake. However, facing such pressure from Milan, it was clever to make an on-field review in order to better sell the call. The final decision was then at Guida's discretion. I would prefer to stand by allowing the goal, but it's the sort of "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.

    2. I Feel VAR intervention can be justified... It was a foul that lead to the goal.. just like how they check for handball leading to any goal it was just as right to check this as well... after saying this Marco Guida should be seeing that and giving the free-kick to prevent all this problems

  5. The problem is that, in that manner, the number of goals in football games will decrease. Imo, a goal is the more important thing, football fans want to see goals. VAR should also check all the contacts in the area in various situations: corners, free-kicks, crosses etc. but this is not happening. With VAR is more easy to disallow a goal than to "score" a goal (by awarding a penalty). And it's not only about the fouls, the same situation is in the case of offsides. Centimetrical offsides are now seen by VAR and the rule "credit to attack" does not longer exist.
    In the next years we will have better statistics and will see that number of goals scored in football games decreased after the introduction of VAR.

    1. Om the other hand, ARs let more dituations go. Less goals are prevented by a wrong flag.

  6. According to CTA-RFEF, the following referees are in Saudi Arabia today:

    Al Faisaly - Al Fayha
    4th Official: Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva
    VAR: José María Sánchez Martínez (FIFA, 2nd)
    AVAR: Eduardo Prieto Iglesias

    Al Batin - Al Qadisiyah
    4th Official: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (FIFA, Elite)
    VAR: Roberto Alonso Fernández (FIFA AR)
    AVAR: Aitor Villate Martínez (AR)

    Unusual to see an AR as main VAR...

    1. Al Faisaly - Al Fayha
      Milorad Mažić, Milovan Ristić, Dalibor Đurđević

      Al Batin - Al Quadisiya
      Viktor Kassai, György Ring, Vencel Tóth

      Al Raed - Al Taawon
      Sergey Karasev, Anton Averyanov, Tikhon Kalugin, Milovan Ristić
      VARs: Milorad Mažić, Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva

      Russian team, not with Karasev's new ARs, stayed in Saudi having officiated on the 22nd (fourth official was Robert Sibiga from United States!) and handled this rearranged match on Christmas Day.
      I don't know about you, but to miss Christmas to officiate there...

    2. Russians celebrate Christmas on 6th/7th of January.

    3. Yes, I think in most Orthodox countries it's on 6th/7th January, as the calendar for those celebrations is not "our" Gregorian calendar, but the Julian one, which is with 13 days of "delay".

    4. Thanks! Hence the October Revolution that happened in November and so on. Apologies to Mr Karasev if I presented him as an emotionless man.

      Some interesting situations from the matches:

      => 15' Penalty? VAR Milorad Mažić supported play on.

      => 33' 2nd Yellow Card. Was the tackle really reckless?

      => 44' Missing YC for trying to score with deliberate handball?

      => 49' YC to the goalkeeper for a reckless tackle. Could this have been SFP or DOGSO?

      => 26' Missed Handball? No VAR intervention possible, situation was outside penalty area.

      => 38' Penalty whistled, but VAR José María Sánchez Martínez calls referee to an OFR, who then changes his decision to a corner kick. Not the clearest gestures, one could think he changed immediately to a signal a corner (maybe he did?).

      => 51' YC for Dissent.

      => 82' Penalty? VAR Alberto Undiano Mallenco (I assume, because Roberto Alonso Fernández worked as 4th Official) supported play on.

      => 90' Penalty assigned by Kassai, after being called to an OFR by Undiano, confirms his original decision.
      In my opinion, incredible arrogance by the Hungarian.

    5. Karasev
      The possible penalty is the classic situation in which a whistle is expected but at the same time not a very 100% clear penalty, so Mazic was in my opinion absolutely right in staying silent. No clear and obvious mistake. The second YC shown so early in the game is a mistake for me: I wouldn't have given it. No reckless challenge. About the handball, well, player could have been booked for if you ask me in this situation not 100% mandatory. Still OK to whistle without it. The challenge by keeper is in my opinion surely reckless, not a SFP. Based on the importance of the action, it should be NO CARD, because player had already kicked the ball, without any teammate able to reach it. So nothing would have happened.

      Never a deliberate handball. About the penalty, Mazic had assigned it as first choice (you can see his gesture), but I'm sure he was not so much convinced... after the review, OK to assign corner.

      Possible penalty is not a clear mistake in any case. About the last incident, I would have liked a closer replay, however if Undiano called Kassai to rewatch, this penalty should be at least a very soft one.... I can't say more... for sure however more penalty than the City - Shakhtar incident, let's say :D

  7. OT: Christmas gift.

    My regional referees committee's technical direction has shared with us the UEFA RAP 2018-2. Lots of interesting clips (but unfortunately, nothing about Oliver's late PK in Bernabéu)

    Download link for PC:

    Download link for MAC:

    1. Wow, thank you so much! A very appreciated gift, I must say!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. This is amazing. Thank you so much!

  9. Today's appointments from KSA

    Al Nassr - Al-Fateh
    Alberto Undiano Mallenco, Roberto Alonso Fernández, Aitor Villate Martínez, Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva
    VAR: José María Sánchez Martínez

    Al Hazm Rass - Al Shabab Riyadh
    Danny Makkelie, Mario Diks, Hessel Steegstra, Jochem Kamphuis
    VAR: Kevin Blom

    Al Wahda - Al Ahly
    Ovidiu Alin Hațegan, Octavian Șovre, Sebastian Eugen Gheorghe, Milovan Ristić
    VAR: Milorad Mažić

    1. For sure this Saudi league is also an excellent training for all UEFA Elite referees - almost all of them are there, before the debut of VAR in CL KO stage. They will be more than ready... however, I would like to see the Englishmen (Oliver and Taylor) making more experience with VAR as well!
      About the Italian referees, they are not directly allowed to go to officiate in Saudi Arabia. Rizzoli make this choice only in case of poor performance and the need to skip some matches in serie A. In this case, a referee is sent in Saudi Arabia or other countries.

    2. I don't think we can see English referee currently employed by the PGMOL outside of England because of the limited number of select group 1 referees(PGMOL faults mainly) and they take the professional aspect of referee to the highest level

  10. SAUDI PRO LEAGUE - 28/12/2018

    Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (ESP)
    Assistant Referee 1: Roberto Alonso Fernández (ESP)
    Assistant Referee 2: Aitor Villate Martínez (ESP)
    Fourth Official: Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva (ESP)

    Referee: Danny Makkelie (NED)
    Assistant Referee 1: Mario Diks (NED)
    Assistant Referee 2: Hessel Steegstra (NED)
    Fourth Official: Jochem Kamphuis (NED)

    Does anyone know about the other appointments for this weekend?

  11. Today's matches in Saudi Pro League

    => 53' 2nd Yellow Card for SPA. Was it a foul though?

    => 68' Penalty?

    => 74' Penalty whistled for handball, VAR José María Sánchez Martínez calls for an OFR, and then referee changes his decision to a corner.

    => +91' Very tricky in-box situation, referee calls a penalty. After an OFR, referee confirms his decision on the pitch.

    => I watched the last minutes of Undiano live, and his management of additional time was unacceptable. Four minutes of additional time were signalised. Penalty was whistled at 91:40. After review ≈ 2/3 minutes, penalty is kicked directly out for a goal kick. Undiano then blows the final whistle, missing two minutes < of playing time!
    This caused much (unnecessary!!) irritation at the final whistle.

    Makkelie's match seemed to be calm, no relevant situations.

    => 51' Referee misses an elbow being carted out on a perception level, and is called to an OFR by VAR Milorad Mažić. Referee assess it as a reckless elbow, and gives a Yellow Card. Should it have been a Red Card?

    => 88' 2nd Yellow Card for a reckless tackle.

    => +91' Referee assigns a penalty for challenge by the goalkeeper. After being called to an OFR by Mažić, decision taken on the pitch is confirmed.

    If this is the future of refereeing with VAR in UEFA, then I'm sorry but this is a joke...
    Referees who whistle penalties when in doubt waiting for the check, clear penalties being confirmed by OFRs just to create acceptance, zero reaction on dissenting players who clearly many times signal for the VAR, yesterday a man who is too arrogant to see his own clear mistake and confirms his on-field decision. Some isolated situations aside, I am really disappointed with what I saw in Saudi Arabia so far.

    Please, let's hope for a better situation than this in CL.

      => 53': never a foul, this is actually a blatant simulation by the opponent. However, once whistled, 2YC is inevitable. Players also have no idea of the protocol, the dismissed player makes the VAR signal (though 2YC cannot be reviewed by VAR).
      => 68': player gets the ball, NO PENALTY is the correct here, good decision!
      => 74': has Undiano really whistled a penalty here? I didn't hear the whistle and also from his body language it didn't look like as if it was given. If Undiano did not whistle this, suggesting an OFR is wrong here. Never in a million years a deliberate handball, hand lies on the chest, no movement at all with the arm.
      => +91': why is this penalty actually reviewed? It's a clear penalty, Undiano's initial decision is completely correct, why is he invited for an OFR? OFR should only be done in case of "clear and obvious mistakes"...

      => 51': Mazic is right to recommend an OFR, but the outcome is wrong IMO: this should have been a RC: elbow is used as a weapon, high intensity. Clearly endangering the safety of the opponent, this is a mistake by Hategan in my view.
      => 88': slight touch is made, leg has nothing to do there. 2YC is completely correct there.
      => 91': same question to raise as in Undiano's case. Why is this being reviewed? And why are those players not being booked who constantly make the VAR sign (as required by LotG)?

      I share your thoughts, if this is what VAR will look like in CL, then it will completely destroy football. If every decision is reviewed, it will completely take away the personality and acceptance of a referee and they will only rely on the images. On another note: referees seem to have a real struggle in terms of acceptance, not only in those clips you've posted. I don't know what's more shocking: the high level of dissent by players or the fact that this high level of dissent is actually tolerated...

    2. "Unacceptable management of added time by Undiano".

      Disappointed but not surprised.

    3. Btw, indeed, I don't like the VAR management from them. Referees should apply LOTG and punish with YC the dissents making the TV signal I hope UEFA encourages them to effectively do it in UCL. Moreover, I see too many "pointless" on-field reviews suggested by VARs.

      Maybe because they're officiating in Saudi Arabia, a quite "dangerous" country, and they have to justify almost everything?

    4. From what I can see, an OFR is often used there only to better sell the decision. I doubt it will be the case in UEFA but in the Middle East I can imagine the referees (committee) are forced to make an OFR even if it's not necessary.

    5. Regarding the use of VAR and OFR, I also think it may be some sort of training or test. Besides what you have said, when training or testing something (for instance, time to take a decision) you have to do it often, otherwise it's pointless. So I guess they might recommend more OFR than needed just to do that.

      Regarding Undiano and time management… it is the same in LaLiga, and I wonder if it is due to low motivation. He has been a LaLiga referee since the year 2000, and has been international since 2004. That's a lot of time, and also seeing that he will retire in 6 months, maybe he doesn't really care anymore.

  12. Today's match from KSA

    Al Ittifaq - Al Ittihad
    Milorad Mažić, Milovan Ristić, Dalibor Đurđević, Kevin Blom
    VAR: Danny Makkelie

    1. I agree with all your points (although I have many doubts about penalty at +91' for Undiano, perfectly executed dive in my opinion).

      I am slightly surprised how much some referees have struggled in their matches. If one thought these trips to Saudi Arabia were just a 'frolly', then he would have had a big surprise. One must stress the Arabic way of playing football is very different to what UEFA's referees are used to, but nonetheless they don't give an impression of being prepared for what they'll face on the pitch.
      To be fair, it is common-sensical to use OFRs to increase acceptance, even if this is isn't even close to the protocol. And surely it will be different in CL.
      But what worries me is the idea that this 'lazy' style of officiating will become a pandemic across the world with VAR.

    2. "But what worries me is the idea that this 'lazy' style of officiating will become a pandemic across the world with VAR."

      Couldn't agree more! I observe it in Poland and Germany. The biggest undesirable side effect behind using VAR is the passivity of referees.

      There is a slogan that the referees should handle games like there is no VAR, but it's not the reality, unfortunately.

      I would be interested in stats of penalties awarded in seasons before intruduction of VAR and in the season(s) of VAR being used. I have a strong feeling the refs were more keen to award penalties in the past and now they just calmly wait for an advice...

  13. Very likely many of you have already read about what has happened a few days ago in Serie A game Inter - Napoli, officiated by Mazzoleni.
    There have been many racist chants against Napoli's player Koulibaly. It is reported that there have been at least three announcements by speaker to fans, following the protocol. However, the game has been never stopped by Mazzoleni, despite of Napoli players and officials from the bench asking for that to refereeing team. According to the protocol, in occasion of the second announcement, the game should be stopped for a certain period of time. This never happened.
    UEFA has published an official statement, you can read it here:
    UEFA seems to be convinced that somebody has failed in applying the protocol.
    In previous occasions, other serie A referees (Rocchi, Irrati, Gavillucci among others) had regularly stopped their games for a while for that reason.
    Surely not good for FIGC and AIA to get this official statement by UEFA... I agree, referee should have stopped the game, at least for a while.
    However, the decisions taken against Inter and fans after the game were absolutely appropriate.
    In this context, Koulibaly has been directly sent off after having applauded the referee following a YC he had issued against him for a previous foul. The player was under pressure for racism, but surely what he did was wrong. The game escalated in the last minutes with another straight RC.

    1. Racist incidents in Spain I think are not worth of match suspension. If the referee recognizes those kind of chants, he stops play, talks to 4th official and pitch delegate and orders him to use the stadium's public address system to say something like "ladies and gentlemen, we beg the spectators to not make racist chants anymore". Then, the referee writes the incident down in the report and Federation takes the sanctioning decision.

    2. So according to Quilava. The answer is to continue doing what is obviously not working and hope that it magically starts working?

      No thanks! Quite on the contrary. Further empower referee's and fully support their decision when they choose to suspend or abandon a match. There is no place in modern football for racism in any form. It's more than obvious that was has been done and what is being done hasn't worked and isn't working. Time to start taking drastic measures in order to fully send a strong message that Racism is not going to be tolerated.

  14. How can Hategan say - even after watching the replays - that this dirty elbow is not a RC?! I have no words for it. His behaviour in front of the monitor is in my opion arrogant and lenient. This kind of decions is bad for football, refereeing and VAR.

    1. Indeed, it's unbelievable. But I would like to know what re-play did he see on monitor.
      I saw some cases of OFRs when images from monitor were from (only) one camera (it was clear in that cases that referees didn't see all the re-plays shown on TV). Also the speed of re-play can influence.

  15. What is happening in Italy with VAR is against football. VAR is used too often, I can say it's a forced use of VAR. There were 3 OFRs in Juve-Samp and an incredible disallowed goal for Chievo. Honesly, there should be clear and obvious mistake. In Chievo- Frosinone no one observed that small (forced) offside. It's even debatable if the forward really influenced the gk (who pulled the shirt of forward, re-plats from behind the goal are preety clear for that)

    1. The offside in Chievo - Frosinone is clear, the attacker in offside obstructed keeper's action. More than punishable offside, you can't allow that goal.
      About Juventus - Sampdoria there would be many things to write...

    2. I can accept any other opinion but for me it's not so clear. The forward didn't intend to play the ball (he didn't jump, he didn't move) and the goalkeeper can see the ball in every moment.
      And, honestly, what clear and obvious mistake can be when no one was aware of it ? Frosinone's players (including goalkeeper) didn't protest, VAR intervention was a (big) surprise for everyone. Imho VAR was not introduced for this kind of hidden mistakes.

    3. No matter the fact that fans didn't expect this decision, they are not refereeing expert. VAR follows LotG not common sense.
      A player in offside, in contact with keeper, touching him, while he is trying a save, is always punishable offside. UEFA agrees.

    4. I disagree only with your description of the situation. The forward didn't touch the gk. It's exactly the opposite, with the goalkeeper pulling the shirt of forward.

    5. No pk for Udinese after OFR. I was sure that Mariani will whistle penalty after OFR. Pfff....

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. Penalty for Juventus:

      The hand seems to be clearly outstretched.

    8. and video (smartphone from Curva Sud):

  16. OT: I have to say a rather excellent first half by Michael Oliver in Liverpool v Arsenal imo. Especially in his fitness and positioning. Whenever there is a decision to be made or a challenge in the penalty area he is always in the best position to see it.

    1. Oliver is almost everytime in a correct position to ases crucial incidents. I haven’t seen any other referee that is always positioning himself in the same good positions

  17. Very interesting clip from the new RAP, involving Soares Dias.
    UEFA says: "Referees should not orchestrate the restart of the game".
    Soares Dias ordered to pass the ball to opponents.

    1. That is correct. Referees are not permitted to orchestrate restarts or tell players to pass the ball to the opposition. The way to get round is ask the player if they would like to pass the ball instead of directing them to do it.

  18. I watched The Old Firm Derby today and John Beaton was extremely lenient, especially at the beginning. I would be interested in reading your opinions. Thanks in advance!

    3' Violent conduct?

    5' SPA?

    12' Reckless or SFP? DOGSO?

    16' Handling in the box. Deliberate?

    45+2' Violent conduct?

    84' Violent conduct?

    1. 1. Intentional kick for me. RC for VC, however, I wonder if there would be many referees with "balls" to do such thing in minute 2 of an Old Firm.

      2. Supportable no card for me.

      3. Well, defender touches ball first, but...look at the studs.

      4. Arm in quite unnatural position. Missed PK for me, not easy to spot it though.

      5. I'm OK with a YC here.

      6. I think the Rangers player knows where he's stamping. RC for me. Same potential offender as in the first clip!

    2. Seems like an extremely tough game, as you could expect that in the Old Firm derby.
      3' - No intention to play the ball, i think it should be a RC. It would be highly unpopular decision of course, but according to LoTG that should be RC.
      5' - Clear holding and SPA, especially looking at the free area to run forward.
      12' - Just remind me for Van Dijk's situation in the Napoli game. I think SFP, hard to spot that the player didn't only took the ball, but completely wrong to play on.
      16' - tricky..I would go for penalty as the arm's movement, but one could argue for small distance. Not a clear mistake to me. VAR would be interesting in this case.
      45+2' - I agree with YC, I don't see violent act here, just a late and strong challenge. Reckless to me.
      84'- Seems like a deliberate step on the opponent, Morales leaves his leg intentionally there, and Morales such a player to loose his head. I would say RC.

      Thanks for those clips Vlad! :)

    3. How lovely! Referee mistakes are now being excused based on whether or not the decision they make would be "unpopular".
      It's downright scary to see how far referee's are being allowed (encouraged/forced) to stray from The Laws of the Game.

    4. 3' - deliberate and unnecessary kick, violent conduct for me. Should be a straight RC.

      5' - Player is clearly holding his opponent and preventing him from going through: clear SPA and YC for me.

      12' - Even though he gets the ball, the challenge is more than dangerous. Studs-up tackle, high intensity, endangering the safety of the opponent. SFP and RC would have been the correct call. You also raise the question of DOGSO, however I don't think that it is a clear one, as the attacker never really was in control of the ball.

      16' - Hmm, difficult to say. Arm is in an unnatural position which would favour a penalty kick but there's no movement by the arm towards the ball and the player is not expecting the ball (see how the arm flies away).

      45+2' - Player is simply too late, YC is absolutely fine here. I don't see any intention.

      84' - Clearly a deliberate move, violent conduct for me, therefore RC!

    5. 3' - According LoTG= RC. But ...
      5' - Clear holding and SPA. YC !
      12' - Play on is impossible. LoTG= SFP= RC.
      16' - LoTG= Penalty
      45+2' - YC
      84'- Not 100% clear. RC would be very surprising after the previous disciplinary decisions (not!!) made by the referee

    6. "But..." But what? Would you kindly elaborate?

  19. Mini 'update' from KSA

    Relevant situations from the match whistled by Milorad Mažić yesterday.

    => 7' Goal disallowed for offside after VAR (Danny Makkelie) intervention, on Milovan Ristić side.

    => 11' Penalty?

    => 79' Yellow Card for Simulation

    => 85' Yellow Card for SPA. Could this have been Red Card for DOGSO?

    => 89' 2nd Yellow Card. Was the foul really reckless?
    Today's appointments, which conclude the matches as the league breaks until 11/Jan now.

    Ohod - Al Raed
    Viktor Kassai, György Ring, Vencel Tóth, István Vad
    VAR: Kevin Blom

    Al Taawon - Al Hilal
    Danny Makkelie, Mario Diks, Hessel Steegstra, Dalibor Đurđević
    VAR: Jochem Kamphuis

    Makkelie's match could be a hot one.

    1. MAZIC
      7' - Good spot by Danny Makkelie here.
      11' - NO foul, play-on is the correct decision here, VAR is not needed here. But again shocking to see that the supposedly-fouled player is not booked after making the VAR signal.
      79' - judging without the replay, this seems to be a correct decision. Player isn't even complaining when he receives the booking.
      85' - Not sure whether this is DOGSO or not: yes, player was in control of the ball, but would he have been able to score a goal from his position? YC for SPA is a supportable decision for my taste.
      89' - 2YC is fully justified in my opinion, player uses his body in a reckless manner against his opponent.

    2. I agree with Stake on all situations, except 85', which is for me a DOGSO situation.

    3. I agree with all decisions by Mazic. YC in 85‘ is also correct for me because the striker had a bad angle towards the goal and a second defender came to block a potential obvious goal scoring opportunity

    4. About Mazic, YC for SPA can be RC for DOGSO, but no clear mistake in both options. The second YC is fully OK, reckless even if the contact on opponent is soft. I agree, it was potentially dangerous. Disallowed goal at the beginning is only VAR stuff, no faults for AR on the pitch.

  20. Uhud - Ar-Ra'id (Kassai, Blom as VAR)

    Penalty; DOGSO?

    RC for DOGSO

    At-Ta'awoun - Al-Hilal (Makkelie, Kamphuis as VAR)


    Correct play-on call after an undeliberate handling

    1. KASSAI
      1) Looks very very soft for my taste. If whistled, it should be DOGSO as player was in possession of the ball and could have easily scored there. Most likely a RC should have followed (I assume Kassai assessed it as a push), I can't see a genuine attempt to play the ball.
      2) RC is a supportable decision for me. However was it a CLEAR goal-scoring opportunity, as the ball was quite far away from the attacker? On the other hand, there was no one between the attacker and the keeper, so the RC is supportable and no need for VAR to intervene here.

      1) Without replay, looks like a spot-on decision. YC also correctly issued, this was a reckless tackle.
      2) Not intentional at all, correct decision to play-on. Strong and effective body language also here by Makkelie, which ends the protests. Well done!

    2. I agree with Stake. First situation in Kassai game is a very soft foul whistled, but if whistled RC. Second situation can be RC but not a 100% clear one, still room for assessing it as SPA and only YC. However, never a clear mistake there.
      In Makkelie game the first incident looks like a big penalty, here card for reckless challenge, second case correct to play on.

    3. Thanks for the clips!

      I managed to watch Makkelie in full. Really good performance by the Dutchman. Best way to describe his performance is to say that he was clearly PREPARED for what he would face. He was proactive throughout the game, and always gave a fully concentrated impression. His disciplinary control was on a high level, with verbal warnings in the 1H (missed YC at 37' though), and then all cards correct in 2H including a 2nd YC for dissent. Foul detection was good, which is always hard when players always try to simulate. He changed his way of managing players from what we see in UEFA competition to sth a more flamboyant- sometimes empathic and sometimes firm; it succeeded.
      There was a further crucial situation to evaluate though:

      => 58' Makkelie issues a Yellow Card for a reckless tackle, or even SPA, and then is called to an OFR by VAR Jochem Kamphuis about a Serious Foul Play. Referee confirms the decision taken on the pitch.
      Should it have been a Red Card?

      In any case, this shouldn't take away from Makkelie's good performance, I think he is a name for the biggest matches there.

      Btw, it is very easy to watch the full matches from KSA, either live or on full match replay, from Saudi Pro League. All you have to do is create a free account on and find the match page (Chrome should auto-translate the Arabic). Maybe someone is interested!

    4. IMO, it's a clear SFP. I don't understand the current trend to not issue red cards for even such fouls, having the help of VAR...

      Thanks for the tip how to watch Saudi games in full!!!

    5. Mikael it's interesting that you find a referee too arrogant a few posts before because of confirming his original decision. ( I think from the video it was not clear if it was really a mistake though)
      And now when it's a clear mistake and VAR correctly suggested OFR, then you are just questioning the decision.
      I just think we should focus on the situations and not on the person who takes it.

      Btw I think Makkelie is probably one of the best official in Europe now, very good self-presentation, good fitness and excellent body language. I am sure in 2-3 years we will see him in a final of European competition. Or even earlier for example in the Super Cup Final next year.

    6. My feeling was that Makkelie was guided by a mixture of current instructions and perhaps lack of 'guts' to take a brave and unpopular decision, not so much arrogance.
      Kassai irritated me in in his first game with his attitude, eg. his YC for dissent where (it seemed that) player was protesting reasonably about a quite clear missed corner. I don't know if you saw the final angle on the video clip of the penalty but, at least to me, it seemed to suggest it was rather a zero foul. Of course though, I can be wrong, especially as my impression was formulated from highlights.

      Saying this, I agree 100% with your sentiment of focusing on situations not individuals, we should always work to be as objective as possible.

      About the rest, I share both of your views.

    7. @ TheRef, IMO the big difference between the two OFR's is that with Hategan it's violent conduct, which give less space to debate. Regarding the foul in Makkelie's match, there is no protest, the player is not injured, both teams want to continue with play and in the end the tackle is missing the real brutality on normal speed. For all these reasons I can understand that Makkelie stays with a strong YC. In the Hategan match it was just the opposite, player is severe injured, blood in the face, lots op protest, player goes off with stretcher, aggressive atmosphere in the match. I know it's dangerous to evaluate fouls in this way, but surely that's like top football is, also to deal with different kind of styles/mentality of football all over the world and to make a decision what the match needs.

    8. In slow motion it's a RC, in normal speed it's more YC (short contact and the foot slides off the leg). For me it's not black and white. VAR shouldn't intervene here, also because the referee stood in an excellent position and saw clearly what happened.

    9. Mikael thanks for your reflection! That's why I like your comments, because you can argue and now I understand what you mean. Kassai's reaction against dissent looks sometimes too aggressive, especially when he actually gives reason for dissent. He could solve that with more personality, than just issuing a card immediately. I still cannot evaluate this penalty situation, anyhow it's very soft for sure, if there is any contact.

      ProRef, we more talked about Kassai and Makkelie. And I agree with you the comparison of Hategan's and Makkelie's decision. What we can say both situations should be RC according to the LoTG. But we all know, we rarely see refereeing like in the textbook and I also see more space for different interpretation in Makkelie's situation, than in the other one.

  21. Two situations from Southampton vs. Manchester City this afternoon, refereed by Paul Tierney (UEFA second category).

    43' - Penalty appeal

    85' - RC for Hojbjerg (SFP)

    1. I think that NO PENALTY is a supportable decision, this contact is at referee's discretion. Not a clear penalty.
      SFP absolutely correct RC: excessive force directly on the man.

    2. Correct play-on call, there is no clear attack in the back.

      I like the red card here - excessive force, flying tackle. However, I have a bad feeling that in UEFA competitions many refs would opt for a yellow card last years...

    3. Good red card, penalty appeal is a dive.

  22. Just to get back to the DOGSO situation with Kassai in Saudi Arabia: here is the full clip of the situation. Kassai indeed has been invited by VAR Blom to review the situation. After review, Kassai sticks with his initial decision.

    A few questions can be raised therefore:
    - was it really an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (or only a promising attack)?
    - was it a clear and obvious mistake for VAR Blom to intervene?
    - did Kassai only consult the monitor to gain more acceptance (as we have seen in previous cases in Saudi Pro League)?

    This situation reminds me of a similar scene from Germany last season, in Augsburg-Wolfsburg. A YC originally issued for SPA was changed by VAR to RC for DOGSO.

  23. happy new year everyone, may the new year come full of health, no injuries to those refereeing like myself and the best of luck.

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