September 5, 2011

Honestly, who is at fault?!

When I accessed the UEFA referee appointments for September's Euro 2012 qualifier matches, I was slightly wondering whether they had chosen the right man for the very important match between Scotland and Czech Republic taking place in Glasgow's louche Hampden Park. As one could observe a good perfomance by the Dutchman (coming from Gouda) in the UEFA Champions-League Play-Off encounter between Arsenal and Udinese, the initial surprise wore off a bit. However, what this referee showed throughout the whole match - but in particular in the last five minutes - can be described as a nightmare. A Scottish nightmare with regard to the close situation in Group I it would have been if Scotland could have won the match. The talk is of Kevin Blom.

After a solid first half with no bigger problems and a quite good approach, he noticeably lost track about everything occurring in the field. Many bookings were not reasonable at all, he should have sent Rezek off who commited two hard fouls in one situation (the 2nd foul should have been red); one time he made a very polemical and populist gesture after having booked a Czech for complaining. However, these are only some weaknesses; when watching the match, I was not content but not totally disappointed by Blom.
But well...a match has 90 minutes..let us consider the official last minute in a nutshell:

Darren Fletcher (l.) cannot trust his eyes when Blom (m.) cautions Berra for diving
- 90': Rezek (CZE) is entering the box and commits an obvious dive. Blom awards a penalty for CZE which is well converted by Kadlec (CZE).
- 90+3': Berra (SCO) is entering the box from a sharp angle and is receiving a soft touch at his tight from a Czech, he loses balance and falls. Blom cautions Berra (SCO) for diving. A terrible decision, even though it is a soft touch, it is a clear penalty.

No wonder that some Scots are more than just angry with Blom. Their manager Craig Levein said after the match that he "didn't confront blunder ref Kevin Blom because [he] would have exploded with rage" (taken from

Honestly, this perfomance was one of the weakest I saw in 2011. Honestly, the Scots reserve the right of attacking Dutchman Kevin Blom. But honestly, it is too easy to blame everything on Blom as well.
The Dutchman who was promoted to Elite group of UEFA referees prior to the last season should have been capable of keeping such an important match under control and what is even more important, he should have been able to take the correct decisions. At least on paper...

UEFA did not feel compelled to issue a statement on this topic and they know why. Naturally, UEFA did not coerce Blom into making these mistakes, but one really has to criticize the Union for their - to my mind - too strong "pushing" of referees like Blom. There have been previous cases, one of these was Bebek. High expectations, good appointments, noticeably decreasing perfomances, demotions...
In fact, a more experienced referee like Benquerenca or Rizzoli would have been more adequate for this match. UEFA overestimated Blom, UEFA underestimated the match importance and difficulty.
Of course, one can say that dives themselves have to be avoided and stopped; there are suggestions to ban dives from professional football (e.g. showing straight red cards). But at least we can suspect that this ideal will never be reached.

Roughly speaking: Blom is the idiot, he is the "fall guy". But the real idiots have to be searched in Nyon! I do not dislike Kevin Blom, I criticize his perfomance but I criticize UEFA.

Update: the following video shows both penalty situations, it shows that Blom fell for the - to my mind - pretty obvious dive (at least for AR1 Lobbert!) and the second situation which is still a controversy. In my opinion, we can say that there is a touch. The question is: what does this touch mean in this pace? To my mind, it means a foul, but perhaps I am wrong as well. But never a dive...


  1. I cant agree with you Niclas on statements which seems to be quite harsh to an experinced person/ref. Referees do mistakes, its quite natural as they are humanbeings. IMO, there is no need to open a special topic in your blog for such cases. I have watched Mr.Blom's performance in Ars-Udi. which was quite acceptable. It is quite normal to have sth wrong in some matches...Take a loook at track of refeeres group I,mostly ED, experinced cat2s... UEFA seems to underestimate this one...

  2. Anonymous5/9/11 22:52

    Mentioning Bebek, he refereed the first leg of this match in Prague last October.

  3. Niclas, I don't agree with you in assessing of the second penalty area decision. I'm sure it was a dive as well and the yellow card is justified. Anyway, it doesn't excuse the huge and obvious mistake which gave Czechs the equalizer.

  4. I agree with dubhe in 100%, but what a poor card management in all match!

  5. Well I did no see the match, but I have seen the penalti action, and for me no one of the two is penalti, for the second one is a very good camera on this link:
    The second time they show it its clear it is a dive...

  6. Well, first of all, the reason for opening the thread: I do not want to MERELY focus on referee appointments, therefore some current topics in the world of refereeing should be discusses, too. As the guys from received a large amount of angry Scots, I thought it would be ok to make it. Not only because I personally was angry about this match, but because I can observe this clear development (which allows us to see referees like Kassai as well, one should of course mention that..).

    The second penalty situation..
    I do not know whether you played football. If you did, you should know that such a contact is more than enough to fall. And sorry in advance: guys, what should one offer you? The second camera angle, Carlos, this shows exactly what I am talking about. He touches his tight, Berra's tight snapped, he falls. It has some aspects where the warning bells for a referee really are belling: he falls late, he falls perhaps easily. This is never a clear dive, perhaps no clear foul either.

    AND YES, referees make mistake, therefore I wanted to take Blom a bit out of the firing line.

  7. and @ cagatay: pls do not tell me that I published statements that are quite harsh to an experienced person. It is only the analysis of situations, attacking Blom personally is no way.
    (pls do not miss understand the last sentence!)

  8. it is stupid that blogspot has no edit-feature...

    I agree Cagatay, UEFA underestimates Group I. But actually...everything would have been fine. An elite referee for this match was ok. But then we have to ask ourselves: did Blom convince the promotion? I can only refer to what I saw of him in the last three years, I saw both of his CL matches and a couple of EL matches with German influence. EL: superb (2009). CL: average. He had a EL match in 2011 as well (Porto?), that was not that good, too.
    So again: it is not always the referee who is at fault, it can be the decision makers, too.
    Every child knows the atmosphere in Hampden Park, with regard to the situation in Group I, you can imagine, even those who have not seen the match, how the atmosphere was there.

    by the way, I did not say anything on the match: it was exciting, although there were 80 minutes of bad football.

  9. niclas, sorry but i don't see there contact for a penalty. it was a dive what can also be seen from the behaviour of the "fouled" scot.
    i think your assessment of the situation is influenced by your anger. calm a little bit and you'll for sure see the dive.

    btw. i played and i still play football along with refereeing and i'm sure there are more of us who can kick the ball here ;-)

  10. That's always a good "pre-condition".
    Could be the case that anger influences perspectives or point of views. To my mind there is a touch, you can see it better in the first replay. Of course, a minimum contact and I understood that Blom did not want to award a penalty for that. A dive is to my mind wrong. And yes, I recognized Berra's behaviour after the decision.
    But I recognized his after-match-behaviour, too, when he said that it was no dive.
    But ok, we have not the same opinion in this situation. But I think we all agree that Blom had a poor day apart from the penalty situations as well.
    You can have such a big mistake, of course, it is humane. Referees are no machines, but it was not only one big mistake but a large amount of small and bigger mistakes, that's why I am wondering whether Blom is a sure candidate for Elite when Collina will update the list.

    A good chance for my suggestions:

    Elite demotion: Blom
    Elite promotions: Tagliavento, Clattenburg, Collum
    Elite development promotions: Strombergsson, Vad for sure, then it would be a close decision between Studer, Kovarik and Trattou, although I think UEFA would take Studer.

  11. Just to avoid misunderstandings:
    No doubt that referees are no machines and can make mistakes, football would not be possible without them. Mistakes of players and referees and without these mistakes, it would be boring.
    My aim or goal of this thread is therefore not blaming a referee for a - without any doubt - weak perfomance, but critizing UEFA for their procedures.

  12. Niclas I agree with you, but if you write "Blom is the idiot, he is the "fall guy"" it seems really too harsh. Remember, we are human...

  13. :D
    I wanted to express that Blom stands there as the idiot (read the Scottish newspapers), he is the fall guy for their draw. I do not know whether you understood the expression "fall guy" correctly.
    It is UEFA's fault, that is what I wanted to express with my text.

  14. Anonymous15/9/11 17:06

    Edward from Greece.

    I disagree with you Niclas. Both occasions are divings. The penalty for CZE is ludicrus. The penalty Scotland asked didn't convince me at all.

  15. Mostly one evaluates situations in another way after a few days, I can now say that it was really no penalty in the second situation. Therefore a good decision by Blom.


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