CFR Cluj 1907 - SK Slavia Praha, Cüneyt Çakır

UEFA Champions League, Playoff, First Leg

20 August 2019, 21:00 CET - Cluj-Napoca (Stadionul Dr. Constantin Rădulescu)

CFR Cluj 1907 Cluj (ROU) - SK Slavia Praha (CZE)

Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (TUR)
Assistant Referee 1: Bahattin Duran (TUR)
Assistant Referee 2: Tarik Ongun (TUR)
Fourth Official: Hüseyin Göçek (TUR)

Video Assistant Referee: Mete Kalkavan (TUR)
Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Ali Palabıyık (TUR)

UEFA Referee Observer: Eugen Strigel (GER)
UEFA Delegate: Thibault De Gendt (BEL)


To summarise, it was the Çakır we know and respect. He knew from the start that it was essential to prevent any sort of aggression on the pitch and his calm demeanour and his verbal warnings/talking-tos with players were aimed at calming things down immediately. Within the first sixty seconds he gave his first one after some shoving and the following reaction; nothing serious, but an immediate signal. He continued to do so in the next few minutes, mostly small player altercations and some DtR (grabbing the ball after the whistle). My federation has been asking to punish such actions with immediate bookings this season, something I would not call a bad idea to eliminate such behaviour, but giving that this is a regional approach, I would not at all fault Çakır for not punishing such behaviour with cards. I would argue it would have heated up the game way more than it would have calmed it down.

His disciplinary control was good. The first yellow card for a very very reckless high leg was borderline on more for me, but since there was little contact, a caution is still accepted - a view VAR Kalvakan shared. Booking number two came after an initial advantage, the remaining cautions were all clear and correct. That includes one for obstructing a punt in added time - here we had DtR punished, as the rules demand it.

Only part of improvement I would mention is "reckless use arms". Çakır gave a correct caution for that at 45', but - for my taste - missed two more at 75' and 88'. Especially the first case - no textbook elbow use - should have been a caution. Replays make it very clear that the player only looks at his opponent and prepares to strike him. One might even argue it was borderline to VC.

There were quite a few penalty appeals for slight pushes/shoves and I will not list them all, as most of them weren't enough for Çakır. I thoroughly agree. Very good communication in 14' when he denied a handball appeal, his gestures made it clear why there was no handball and replays confirmed it happened exactly as Çakır told the players.

The penalty given in 77' for the home team was less clear for my taste. The Cluj striker makes a turn to "invite" a foul and the Slavia player more collides with him than he does actively try to impede the striker. I would have found a play-on decision acceptable based on the fact that it looked more like a collision the striker initiated, but a pk call can be supported as well. VAR did not intervene and did not suggest an OFR.

One more notable scene happened outside the pitch: The Cluj manager tried to grab a Slavia player who executed a quick throw-in during a counter-attack. Per the LotG, this would even be a RC offence. FO did not report it to Çakır and perhaps because the attempt failed, no action was taken by the refereeing team.

All in all, I would summarize it as a very good performance by Çakır, who can take credit for ensuring that a potentially troublesome match remained fully under control throughout. If there are areas for improvement, I would mention the reckless use of arms.

Howard Maxi

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