08 February 2016

Youth League 2015/16 - Play-Offs for Round of 16 - Referee Appointments

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UEFA has appointed the following officials  to handle 2015/16 UEFA Youth League Play-offs for Round of 16. 


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Referee Observers and Delegates for Champions and Europa League (16-25 Feb.)

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UEFA has designated the Referee Observers and Delegates for both Champions League Round of 16 (First Leg) and Europa League's complete Round of 32. 


PDF: Observers & Delegates 16-25 Feb.

Do you dare to make some predictions?
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22 January 2016

UEFA to use Goalline Technology at EURO 2016

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What has already been indicated on former international referee Kenn Hansen's site in early January has now been confirmed: UEFA's Executive Committee headed by Gianni Infantino has decided to implement Goalline Technology (GLT) at the EURO 2016 finals in France - on top of the usual Additional Assistant Referee (AAR) system.


For now it has not been clarified what kind of GLT system UEFA is going to use - most likely it will be the field-tested Goal Control system based on multiple cameras "under the roof" of the stadiums such as at Brazil's World Cup 2014.

Pierluigi Collina had already made clear that the deployment of GLT would not lead to the abolishment of the AAR system:

"The additional assistants' main task is not to control the goal line and decide whether a ball has crossed it. Rather, they are responsible for monitoring everything that is happening in the penalty area overall, aiding the main referee in making important decisions in the box. Of course, the AARs try to do their best relating to goal-line decisions as well, and what we have noticed is that in order to be prepared to judge goal-line incidents, they need to focus on the goal line before the ball arrives… therefore, they can miss something occurring at the same time in another place in the area. This may reduce the effectiveness of the assistance they are expected to offer the referee. With goal-line technology, the additional assistants are released from this demanding task and can focus exclusively on the control of other incidents on the field.", he told UEFA.com.

While it is quite obvious that most mistakes made by AARs in competitions like Champions League have had little to do with their task to control the goalline - one could call it a political excuse - UEFA's decision to make use of both systems surely creates the biggest benefit for the game. 

The human eye is apparently not capable of taking high-speed decisions of centimetres - this became clear at the last European Championship when István Vad failed to see that Ukraine had scored a goal by some centimetres. But it can surely provide some added support for the match officials - as long as they are concentrated, motivated and experienced.

The system will also be applied in Champions League matches of the season 2016/17 (starting in the play-offs). Later, UEFA will consider an implementation in Europa League as well.

We will see whether UEFA's decision will lead to a higher quality of decisions taken by AARs. Definitely, there will be no second Ukraine-England incident though.

References:

UEFA.com: Interview with Collina

UEFA.com: News on ExCo-Decision
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18 January 2016

Video Training - 2x SPA or DOGSO? (JUV-GLA & ZEN-POR) - Solutions

- 13 Comments

The following match situations belong to the category SPA or DOGSO?
You are warmly encouraged to participate in discussion by answering the poll or placing a comment.
Our solution will be published soon.

1|


In SPA vs DOGSO scenarios, referees have to consider many aspects and criteria before coming to a judgment. Being the last man is not enough to deem an attacker as denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.

In general, it must be a really CLEAR and OBVIOUS goal-scoring opportunity.

Some criteria are:
- Did the attacker control the ball OR was it probable that he would have controlled the ball?
- Position of the attacker?
- Direction of the ball's and player's movement? Towards the goal or rather towards the side / corner?
- Distance to the goal?
- Position of other defenders and the goalkeeper? Was another player able to interneve?
- Likelihood of the attack to produce a goal if it had not been stopped by an offence?

In this case, there are surely arguments for both. 


Arguments in favour of SPA (Yellow Card)

Arguments in favour of DOGSO (Red Card)

- It is not 100% clear whether the attacker would have reached the ball earlier than the other defender.
- Attacker had full control of the ball.
- The attacker moved towards the corner flag to circumvent the later offender.
- Distance to the goal not that big.
- The ball (look at its effet at 0:25 in the video) moved towards the sideline.
- If he had not been fouled, the attacker might have reached the ball earlier than the other defender.
- The attacker would have had to change his and the ball’s direction after reaching it, which would have cost some time and produced a worse shooting angle.
- In this case, he would have been 1v1 with the goalkeeper.
- The situation is not clear enough to deem it as a clearly denied, OBVIOUS goal-scoring opportunity.
- The attacker had already accelerated, the other defender still had to initiate a sprint to be able to intervene.

- The defender chose this foul as his last opportunity to stop a probable goal from being scored.
In such situations, the referee team's decision should be supported either way. Even with replays, it is actually not possible to come to a 100% clear solution. In the video, you can see the referee having eye- and ear-contact with his additional assistant referee, who is able to assess the ability of the other defender to intervene. The assistant referee can identify the position including the proximity to the goal of the three involved players. Another problem was that the referee did not anticipate the unexpected loss of the ball and was too highly positioned on the field of play (probably 30m away at the moment of the foul).


It is often proposed to freeze the mental image at the accurate moment of the foul. By freezing the moment of the foul as placed above, you should come to the conclusion: Clearly the last man, no chance for the other defender: DOGSO, Red Card. This is correct, but only one side of the coin. 

Freezing your mental image tells you nothing about the movement of the players, the movement and effet of the ball or the distance between the attacker and the ball (maybe he poorly controlled or touched it, which makes the ball bouncing away 5-10 metres away from the attacker's feet which leads to a reduced control of the ball).

All this has to be integrated though! Freezing the moment of the foul is nonetheless immensely important because the players' positions can dynamically and quickly change after the foul which would influence the judgment. You therefore have to know who was where even some seconds later.

From my point of view, this is one of the most complex SPA vs DOGSO situations of the past Champions League seasons. Referee Thomson only cautioned the offender. I strongly support this decision due to the ball's movement and effet as well as the mere circumstance that this is everything but a 100% clear, obvious goal-scoring opportunity. As stressed above, both decisions should be accepted, of course. Somehow, this is an orange card...

Life is rarely black or white, but of course a referee has to know what decision he should better take. If I had to commit myself to a decision, I would recommend a yellow card.

Around 70% of you preferred a red card.
 

2|


The attacker was in full speed and therefore faster than both other defenders. The defender tripped the attacker who additionally was in full control of the ball and his body. The other defender had no chance to intervene in a fair manner - a good sign for that is that he even has to jump over the falling attacker which means that he was some metres behind him. The distance to the goal is moderate, given the attacker's speed, it was however likely that a goal could have been easily scored in a 1v1 situation with the goalkeeper.

Although the situation was surely difficult for the referee and additional assistant referee, who had a 0-20° angle on the situation (which makes it difficult to estimate the exact player positions - the first assistant referee had better chances in terms of that), the referee should have sent off the defender for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.  

Red Card.

This is UEFA's official solution as well.


Interestingly, here 50% voted in favour of a Yellow Card and the other 50% of a Red Card.
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16 January 2016

Green Card for Fairplay introduced in Italy's 2nd Division

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Reward instead of punishment: The Serie B match La Spezia vs Bari officiated by Aleandro Di Paolo was no match like the others: For the first time, a green card has belonged to the referee's equipment apart from the usual colors yellow and red. With the deployment of this additional card, the Italian football association sends a signal for the benefit of fairplay.


Actions like all-time World Cup record goal-scorer Miroslav Klose's honest confession that he had handled the ball into the goal missed by the match officials are soon honoured by a green card issued by the referee.


Fairplay such as saving a referee from a serious error, supporting opponents who are injured and comparable actions thus will be rewarded in future - instead of punishing missing fairness. Who will be green-carded is at the referee's discretion.

At the end of each month and the season, there will be a winner with the referee department and ethics committee awarding a prize to one of those who got into the book of the referee - but exceptionally in a positive way.

In my view: A really nice action but at the same time a sad proof of the shortcomings of fairplay. If you have to make incentives to act fairly, this says quite much.

What do you think?
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13 January 2016

Severity of Offences: Tackles without Control of the Body

- 4 Comments
Last week, I posted a tackle taken from Sunderland v Liverpool FC in the English Premier League and asked you to vote what decision should be taken from your point view. Out of 500 voters, 57% voted for a red card for serious foul play, while 41% deemed it as a reckless tackle requiring a yellow card only, which shows that it is a) a matter of interpretation and b) therefore some sort of grey area. Taking up the current debate about - and maybe even hyping of - the idea of video referees, I am wondering what decision he or she would make. The following solution is not the end of all wits and surely not the ultimate truth (which is by the way expected from video referees).



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10 January 2016

News from IFAB: Video Referees and Further Proposals

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At last, football's lawmakers - the International Football Association Board (IFAB) - have cleared the way for Video Referees in football. A concept that is already applied in sports hockey or rugby thus might soon take the heat off referees in critical game situations. Moreover, further proposals have been lodged with the intention to remove inconsistencies from the Laws of the Game.


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04 January 2016

Cüneyt Çakır elected as The 3rd Team's European Referee of the Year 2015

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Today we honour Turkish international referee Cüneyt Çakır as The 3rd Team's European Referee of the Year 2015 as a result of our internal votings. Italian Nicola Rizzoli and Germany's Felix Brych have been ranked as no.2 and 3 respectively, with two Englishmen just behind and a Polish talent making place 6.

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31 December 2015

Video Training - Severity of Offences (4) - Tackle from Sunderland-Liverpool (Solution)

- 14 Comments

The following match situation belongs to the category Severity of Offences.
You are warmly encouraged to participate in discussion by answering the poll or placing a comment.
This time, we have a fresh and maybe more difficult situation for discussion!
Our solution will be published soon.




You find our solution here.

Your Decision?
No Foul, Normal Collision.
Careless Tackle - No Card.
Careless Tackle - No Card, Verbal Warning.
Reckless Tackle - Yellow Card.
Serious Foul Play - Red Card.
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29 December 2015

Video Training - Severity of Offences (3) - Solution

- 9 Comments

The following match situation belongs to the category Severity of Offences.
You are warmly encouraged to participate in discussion by answering the poll or placing a comment. Our solution will be published soon.



The3rdTeam-Recommendation:

The red-dressed player tackles the blue-dressed midfielder. Both players approached the ball from some distance and with relatively high speed. The offender slided into the duel with a stretched foot and with studs shown 20 cms above the turf with moderate intensity.
However, he does not make any contact with that foot. Instead, it is his left / second leg which makes unfair, but only reckless contact with the midfielder. This is also called "trailing leg".

Considering the intensity, high speed and resolute character of the tackle with relatively low control over the own body and the impact on the player fouled, the referee understandably sent off the offender with a red card upon the advice of the fourth official. But was he right?

Watching the replays, excessive force was not clearly given though so that not all criteria for serious foul play were fulfilled. "Trailing leg"-tackles are normally reckless and this applies here as well. 

A yellow card is deemed as enough for this infringement. 

On top of that, the referee should be reminded on radiating self-confidence and certainty before, while and after taking a decision. His body language was too hesitant and expressed incertainty. Furthermore, many protesting players surrounding him, trying to force him into a certain decision, were completely ignored by the referee. Referees should react more energetically in such situations, issue clear warnings or even yellow cards for mobbing. Ideally, this would not have been necessary by a more confident body language some seconds earlier.

Your Votes:

Your Decision?

No Foul.
Careless Tackle - No Card.
Careless Tackle - No Card, Verbal Warning
Reckless Tackle - Yellow Card
Serious Foul Play - Red Card

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27 December 2015

Video Training: Severity of Offences (2) - Solution

- 15 Comments

The following match situation belongs to the category Severity of Offences.
You are warmly encouraged to participate in discussion by answering the poll or placing a comment. Our solution will be published soon.


The3rdTeam-Recommendation:

The offender fouls his opponent with high intensity, exceeding the necessary use of force. He clearly endangers the safety of his opponent. He has only relatively small chances to play the ball, which was however still close enough to not fulfill the criteria for a violent conduct.

A tackle that clearly endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play as defined by Law 12.

The referee correctly sent the offender off with a red card

To trigger further room for discussion: Was the card-showing procedure satisfying? The referee raised the red card without much hesitation with the offender still lying on the turf. Usually, you should NOT show cards to players that are still on the ground as it does not show sufficient respect.

However, in this concrete situation, a quick decision that calms down the furious crowd as well as the heated blue-dressed players and, at the same time, diffuses any room for potential protest justifies this procedure to a certain extent.

Your Votes:

Your Decision?

No Foul...
Careless Tackle - No Card.
Reckless Tackle - Yellow Card.
Serious Foul Play - Red Card
Violent Conduct - Red Card
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24 December 2015

European FIFA Assistant Referees for 2016

- 10 Comments
Having already provided you with the list of the Europe's international referees for 2016, please find attached the names of the 419 FIFA Assistant Referees.

Tarik Ongun (TUR, photo) is one of 419 FIFA assistants in 2016

PDF

Congratulations to the officials included. No warranty that this is the really final list, even though it is quite probable. For 100% certainty, please wait for FIFA's official confirmation in early January.

We wish you Merry Christmas!
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19 December 2015

Psychology for Referees - Performance Management (2/4): Feedback

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Your free-kick decision, the players' and fans' reactions, your belief in or, at times, even your doubts in the correctness of your decision and the debriefing with your referee observer have one thing in common: Following a certain kind of input given, you get some information back as a response. Or, in one more omnipresent and familiar term: You get Feedback.

Becoming better by improving your weaknesses and cementing your strengths depends on feedback more than on anything else. This counts for practically every human - regardless whether we are talking about pupils, employers, athletes and therefore also referees. But is every kind of feedback automatically leading to a performance improvement, increased motivation and higher efforts? And what are prerequisites of successful feedback?

Feedback is highly relevant in refereeing, from the bottom up to the very top. Of course on a top level, there are more monetary resources to facilitate programs like fitness monitoring (which is also kind of feedback), mentoring systems (I remind you on some current Elite referees who were formerly mentored by former top referees and got continuous feedback after their matches) or video portals such as UEFA's Referee Network in which the officials are regularly informed about the correct solution for match situations that cropped up at the latest matchdays of CL and EL.

I attempt to introduce you to a relatively young theory that belongs to the scientifically and empirically most proven assumptions in psychology and has tremendous impacts on the feedback culture in business - but also sports psychology. After part 1 about goal-setting, this text therefore focuses on how to monitor the goal attainment by getting feedback.

Part 2 of the Performance Management Series: How to give effect feedback?



2. Feedback

3. Performance Evaluation

4. Incentive Systems

But before turning too scientifically, some basic things about feedback should be said.

Is feedback = feedback?

No. Usually one differs between informative and evaluative feedback. They can be explained as follows:

Informative feedback: feedback "that acts as a directive to keep goal-setting on course" (Kim & Hamner, 1976) or, in other words, feedback which consists of advices how a goal can be attained (e.g. by behaving in a certain way or using a certain method).

Evaluative feedback: feedback which provides the recipient with information about how good he or she has been so far. This includes an assessment of the goal-attainment (is it already fulfilled?) and of the quality of work (in refereeing this might be: how did I perform? The observer will tell me so).

Specially evaluative feedback has the power to motivate its recipient (of course this varies with the valence of the feedback, the worst feedback on earth is not mandatorily motivating..). An even more positive effect on motivation and performance can be reached by combining informative and evaluative feedback (Kim & Hamner, 1976).

Furthermore, feedback should not be given too late. Receiving an assessment of your performance 3 weeks after the match concerned does not make much sense. It does not have to come immediately, but should be done soon. And it should be done continuously - not four times a week or so, but at least on a sensible, regular basis.

Observers, learn: Provide your referees with a proper assessment how he or she has done. But don't leave him alone with that. Show him positive points and focus on what he should improve and, in particular, how this is possible. 


How exactly should feedback be given?

This depends on the kind of referee you are observing as a referee observer. Generally there are people who are glad about clear words and open for it. Others are maybe more sensitive to negative feedback so that you have to be a bit more careful. I will come back on that later.

A widely spread, but not necessarily correct method is the so-called "sandwich-method" which simply means that negative feedback is sandwiched by a positive start and a positive point as a conclusion. This is rather a best-practice and no validated theory.

As indicated above, a relatively new theory is dominating research in the feedback area until now: Kluger's and DeNisi's so-called Feedback Intervention Theory ("FI theory", 1996). The theory's goal basically is to explain conditions under which feedback is perceived or grasped positively and under which conditions the opposite is the case, i.e. when feedback might have negative impacts on future performance, motivation and satisfaction. They showed that one third of all feedback processes investigated indeed had negative effects.

Because I do not want to bore you with too many details, these are the basic findings or premises:

1. Feedback does not always increase performance quality. Under some circumstances it can have negative effects. It depends on how the feedback-giver presents it.
2. Feedback often touches human needs, e.g. to have a positive self-image and self-concept. If you are criticized, your self-image might be threatened - you want to defend it and thus do not process the feedback information well enough.
3. Whether feedback is perceived as positive and motivating or as the direct opposite, depends on the focus of the feedback.

There are three foci: 1. the so-called meta-task-level (e.g. the self), 2. the task-motivational level (focussing on results) and 3. task-learning level (focussing on behaviour). In the following, we use the terms self-image, results and behaviour for the purpose of simplification.

The following graphics illustrate the impacts of focussing on one or the other level in general and when giving a referee positive and negative feedback.


FI theory: general (click to enlarge for better quality)

FI theory: positive feedback


FI theory, negative feedback


As you can see, feedback is grasped as most motivating and positive if the feedback itself is positive (no miracle). However, in easy tasks, completely positive feedback loses its motivational character as the recipient knows that the task he faced was not challenging at all (imagine the easiest match you ever handled in your life. The observer, if you have one, comes in the dressing room and laudes you: "Everything perfect, brilliant performance!" Does that motivate you that much? Probably not). In case of positive feedback, don't refrain from using adjectives - focus on the self-image! Praise the referee, it boosts his/her self-confidence.

Although e.g. UEFA's observers are always reminded to see referees in a positive light, they only become better, expand their skills and work on their weaknesses if they are aware of them! Their deficits have to be addressed clearly. Therefore it is your duty as a referee observer to provide the referee with sufficient input. Points for improvement must be integrated into most observer reports. A report or debriefing without any room for improvement or consideration cannot be good.

However, the FI theory clearly tells you that this should be done carefully:

1. Focus on behaviour!
2. You can also concentrate on results.
3. Never focus on the recipient's self-image! Never use (negative) adjectives! Your feedback won't be accepted under such circumstances as the recipient's self-image might be threatened and therefore defended!

Concentrating on results is ok, but won't help the referee that much either. If you tell him "Your performances are, compared to the others, a bit worse on average." or "The players did not respect you.", you are describing symptoms which the referee probably knows himself best. What he or she maybe does not know is how to avoid similar bad results in future. And for that, you have to focus on behaviour (and never on his self-image, character etc.).


How can this be done concretely? This guideline is directed at referee observers:

A. Create a positive atmosphere for discussion with the referee (team) [video example]
- Choose a good point of time (when all parties have a cool head, don't do it 30 min after the game).
- Communicate respectfully and in an esteeming way.
- Ask the referee (team) for his/her/their impressions and perspective.
- Present your impressions and perspective and explain it clearly.
- Start your analysis with a positive point, this will create more acceptance of what comes next.
- Underline the benefit from following your advice.

B. Highlight behaviour, consequences from this behaviour and alternatives (see below!).
- Refer to particular situations where a certain behaviour was visible.
- Point out the consequences arising from this behaviour.
- Never use adjectives, stick to concrete situations and behaviour.
- Show alternative behaviour or even compare negative with positive behaviour.
- Offer the recipient better solutions and ways to realize them.

C. Boost the recipient's self-confidence
- Utter your confidence that the recipient can obtain better results and realize alternatives in future.
- Attribute successful behaviour to the referee's abilities and effort, attribute failures to his efforts only and never to his abilities!
- Conclude your debriefing, discussion or report with expressed faith in the referee.

A way how step B can succeed is the S-B-I-A-method illustrated in the following.


The most important point is: Contrast observable behaviour with alternative behaviour. It is best to show the referee team two match situations: The first one should illustrate the negative example (wrong decision, unsuccessful player management, weak body language...), the second one - ideally taken from the same match - should show another situation where a comparable occasion was solved better by the referee. An example of that can be found here.

You might think that all this is self-evident and done in praxis. It is not.

Specially at FIFA tournaments, there are referee assessors or observers which do not conduct any detailed debriefing with the referees. Some confederations do not conduct any form of debriefing at all. UEFA debriefings sometimes do not take much longer than 15 minutes (duration is not = quality though). And as an ameteur referee, you can be lucky and happy if you have an observer at all. Successful feedback does not only depend on the feedback-giver though, but also on its recipient.

There are two things good referees should possess: The ability to take criticism and, closely linked with it, the ability to be open for honest self-criticism. Such soft skills are fundamentally important - not only in refereeing. A lack of these abilities, e.g. due to certain personality patterns or traits, can impede a referee's career progress. It is something observers and managers do not like at all. You can even disagree with the referee observer about precise situations or general observations - but never contradict him or her (an exception might be black-or-white cases where the observer is clearly and unequivocally wrong with you and your teammates being sure about it).

What you should do in most situations is nodding, being grateful for the criticism and, if you disagree for yourself, asking for concrete examples where the point of improvement became evident and how you can improve in future. There is mostly something to criticize - or, formulated more positively, there is always food for thought which the official should be able to get to know. It is however his or her decision to either accept or not accept the negative, constructive feedback.

If feedback is given properly and following the advices outlined above, there is a good chance that the referee will find it worth to do more than just taking note of it though.

Conclusions:

1) Feedback should be given continuously and soon. 
2) If feedback is given properly, it can have positive effects on performance and motivation.
3) Feedback should be directed at observable behaviour. In case of negative feedback, never focus on the recipient's self-image - the opposite counts for positive feedback.
4) Break the ice by creating a positive atmosphere, contrast negative with positive behaviour.
5) For those who receive feedback: See it as a chance to develop and not as a personal attack. You don't have to accept every feedback though. 

References:

Kim, J.S. & Hamner, W.C. (1976). Effect of performance feedback and goal setting on productivity and satisfaction in an organizational setting. Journal of Applied Psychology, 61(1), 48-57

Kluger, A.N. & DeNisi, A. (1996). The Effects of Feedback Interventions on Performance: A Historical Review, a Meta-Analysis, and a Preliminary Feedback Intervention Theory. Psychological Bulletin, 119(2), 254-284
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