April 24, 2013

Crucial situations in Bayern - Barcelona or "Now we see less"

Although the final result of 4:0 might arouse the impression of an easy-going match for the Hungarian officiating team headed by Viktor Kassai, Bayern - Barcelona was one of the toughest matches of the entire K.O. stage with regards to debatable, crucial situations. Unfortunately, the match officials had a bad evening and performed in a quite weak way, allowing at least two illegal goals scored by the Germans.

Viktor Kassai (c) tz-online
Before exposing these incidents, it must be said that György Ring was replaced by Gábor Erös as assistant referee due to a near-term injury. Thus, the officials that were involved are:
Referee: Viktor Kassai (HUN), Assistant Referee 1 (AR1): Robert Kispál (HUN), Assistant Referee 2 (AR2): Gábor Erös (HUN), Additional Assistant Referee 1 (AAR1): Tamás Bognar (HUN), Additional Assistant Referee 2 (AAR2): Mihaly Fabián (HUN), Fourth Official: György Ring.

Scene 1: Deliberate handball by Piqué? (15th minute)

Even though the replays are definitely not the best ones, it becomes clear than Lahm's shot would have been a shot on goal, meaning that goalkeeper Valdés could have expected a needed save to impede a goal. Piqué, who is visible in the screenshots 2-4, intentionally outstretched his arm, slightly moved the hand towards the ball in an unnatural manner and hence increased his body volume. Despite the pace of the shot and the small/medium distance between shot and hand, this was a deliberate handball in compliance with the Laws of the Games and the latest instructions. Both Viktor Kassai and the assistants on the far side, AR2 and AAR2, did not realize that. The referee himself actually had the best view on it.

Scene 2: Foul by Dante prior to 1:0 goal? (25th minute)

Bayern's defender Dante made a header after one of many corner-kicks the German team got. While having headed the ball, one can obviously see that he slightly gave support - his arms are on Dani Alves' shoulders. At the same time, one must constitute that the Barcelona defender did not jump and was thus generally inferior in this duel. It was only natural that Dante jumped higher, as his opponent stayed on the ground without any form of body tension. For my taste, this was a borderline situation, but for me a correct decision which also suited to Kassai's general line.

Scene 3: Deliberate handball by Alexis Sánchez? (32nd minute)

Another difficult call - again AAR2 was involved. Dante once again headed the ball after a corner-kick, the ball was then deflected by Alexis Sánchez' hand. The ball would not have reached an opponent or the goal. Alexis Sánchez had no chance to escape this handball. The very small distance as well as the fact that the Barcelona striker did not look at the ball and did not move his hand towards it support Kassai's and Fabián's decision that this was no deliberate handball. Of course the arm was widely stretched out, but only as a part of a natural movement. Consequently, giving no penalty was an acceptable decision.

Scene 4: Deliberate handball by Bartra? (47th minute)

Three players were striving for the ball, including defenders Bartra, Alba and Bayern's Martínez. Bartra clearly touched the ball with his hand after having been slightly pushed by Martínez. AAR1 Bognar was close to this incident and awarding no penalty here was another correct decision.

Scene 5: Was the 2:0 goal scored from an active offside position? Yes, it was. (48th minute)

Bayern's #33, Mario Gómez, was in an active offside position when receiving the ball from a header. For AR1 Robert Kispál, it surely was a tough decision to make. Many players were on the same level and perhaps one of them obstructed his vicinity a bit, which becomes clear by his try to move his head in the first screenshot, too. AAR1 Bognar seemed to have detected this offside, as he immediately and swiftly moved his head into Kispál's direction to create eye-contact. Kispál quickly ran 20-30 metres to the midfield circle though and so allowed the goal. This goal was illegally scored.

Scene 6: How could the officials miss the foul prior to the 3:0 goal? (73rd minute)

In this case, there is no doubt left that Bayern striker Müller blocked his opponent Alba without having possession of the ball. The more relevant question is: how could three officials miss this foul? Kassai, AR1 and AAR1 had a good view on this scene, which was not occurring too far away from the ball. It is at least another proof for the non-existing convenience of additional assistant referees.
Besides, we must discuss about offside. If Müller was closer to the goalline than the second last defender - and the replays are not clear enough to say so, but they indicate this tendency - then AR1 missed another offside goal. Müller having been in passive offside would thus have become active by blocking an opposing player (interfering with an opponent). 

As already said, it is not clearly unveiled that Müller was offside, here, we can apply "in dubio pro ref".

Scene 7: Jordi Alba having thrown the ball into Arjen Robben's face - yellow or red? (89th minute)


The Laws of the Game and their guidelines generally allow both, a yellow and a red card, depending on whether the offence of throwing the ball at an opponent was characterized by a reckless manner (yellow) or by excessive force (red). Surely, the throw was not that strong, Robben perhaps simulated a bit. Nonetheless, it was a short distance and Alba deliberately threw the ball into his opponent's face and not just at an opponent. Also here, it is no totally wrong call, but just applying a bit more common sense, this should have been a sending-off offence. As Alba will miss the return leg, this yellow card naturally also has the character of a sending-off now.

In the end, the performance of the entire team has been error-phone and defective - keeping in mind that Kassai also did many things well and correctly. The huge mistakes that have been made surely have contributed to a high (but not undeserved) win yesterday evening, which will have an enormous impact on the return leg and in a way, on the whole competition, at least in many neutral people's eyes.
However, it was more than that: it was furthermore the unequivocal proof that additional assistant referees do not contribute to a better decision-taking on the highest level of club football. One may not tar all additional assistant referees with the same brush though as the past has shown, some decisions made by them which were not always visible for the public (consultations via micro e.g.) probably have been very good. Nevertheless, Pierluigi Collina's slogan "Now we see more" more and more becomes mere scorn in the ears of football fans, players and teams, as they have the justified feeling that additional assistant referees have no positive impact on the quality of decisions and the game on the highest level. Sometimes, they might feel that the slogan should say "Now we see less". One should analyze why such big mistakes can happen very close to additional FIFA officials, which we also saw in Croatia - Spain, e.g. Is it a bad angle to take decisions? Are they sometimes too close to the situations and fail to have the needed distance to a situation? Is there a clash of responsibilities? Or is the quality of the men deployed at the goallines not adequate enough for a UEFA Champions League semifinal? Would it be more sensible to abolish this experiment or to mix teams (having two further Elite referees on the goalline) on such a level? These are questions Pierluigi Collina and also Michel Platini should start to think about.


  1. Anonymous24/4/13 12:54

    1) Wrong decision, clear penalty.
    2) Borderline situation, we can accept Kassai decision.
    3) Correct, no penalty.
    4) No penalty.
    5) Offisde.
    6) Clear foul missed by Kassai, AR1 and AAR1.
    7) Red card.

    1. Anonymous24/4/13 17:14

      By Anonymous-13

      1) This is a clear penalty as we see the distance is not that small, the arm was clearly away from the body, and it did move towards the ball clearly after the red player kicked the ball.

      2) The analysis is correct, but I would add that not only the defender did not jump but seems to throw himself back onto the attacker in an attempt to hold/destabilize his jump. And the attacker seems to have jumped clearly before the contact between the two players occurs; And then when the arms move down they fall on the chest of the defender.

      3) I am unable to make my mind clear on this situation. It's true that the distance is small, but this is a heading. Also, the arm is clearly stretched away from the body in an non-natural manner. To me it is always uneasy to accept situations where the player jumps and keeps the arm high and stretched for a while. I would say it is a penalty!

      4) No penalty. I agree 100% with the analysis.

      5) This is an offside, a tight and a difficult one, but it is. The difficulty of the situation is increased by the fact that the defender who jumped with the attacker that headed the ball is falling towards the end-line. I think AR1 is not well positioned as he tries to stretch his head to the right in order to "see better".

      6) I am not sure about the foul. If you consider that the defender adds too much to it, it actually that the red man arrived there before the defender and then the latter, who does not see former, run into him; And then falls like he was fouled.

      7) A red card would be too harsh.

    2. Anonymous24/4/13 20:11

      I think that Pique's handball not penalized is Kassai's major mistake, while the second goal is Kispal's mistake. The other situations are not that clear.

  2. Great analysis, I agree with everything you said except I believe that Alba's yellow card was sufficient as it would appear to be more along the lines of "unsporting behavior" as opposed to "violent conduct." It also appeared to me that the fourth official advised Kassai as far as what decision to take. In any case, as you mentioned, his YC will have the same effect as a red causing him to miss the next match

  3. Niclas

    Excellent analysis - I think you conclude as UEFA would. And for what its worth, I agree with everything.

    I also like the most astute comment on the blog: 'is it a clash of responsibilities?'

    This has been my point for some time. Even without AAR, the AR involvement is 99% dependent on pre-match instructions, thus the quality of the referee (or ego) will ensure variability persists.

    In a more basic manner, I find it impossible that the AAR missed that block; and sadly, the AAR is also deemed surplus to decision making in offside decisions - think not only this one, but for the Dortmund winning goal. Both AAR's see 'Clearly' that they are both offside, but are powerless ...

  4. Anonymous24/4/13 15:49

    What a great webpage. I hope you will keep it growing and become a pushing force for a replay reform in football. Thank you!

  5. Anonymous24/4/13 16:19

    Players should be amputated arms and play football without arms. All players need to cut off arms to the shoulders, then there is no problem for great experts who watch football on TV and be very smart when it's all over.
    I ask all of you!
    How can someone jump without using your hands???
    This is not the video games and cartoons, let you make moves that you want!
    Sometimes players deliberately jump from their hands up but we see it. Here there was no intention to play and to prevent something serious.

  6. It seems that you have obviously not read the text.

    1. Anonymous24/4/13 23:19

      Sorry, I thought on people who really thinking that both situations clear penalty.

    2. Ok, then you are right.

  7. Excellent analysis Niclas!
    Can I just start by stating that this is a great website and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute that I have been on here. I have to say there is never a dull moment on here.

    The standard of refereeing in the knock-out stages has been very poor this year. I cannot remember witnessing so much incidents and controversies in living memory. Only Kuipers and Skomina have performed well IMO.

  8. Such words coming from all of you sound like a peerage for me and thus make me content and motivated.
    I am glad that you enjoy being here and would appreciate if you will give this blog its life by comments in future, too :)

  9. Excellent analysis, I think that after yesterday the most relevant topic is about the importance of additional assistant referees, if Bognar was not able to notice that foul, and on the other side Fabian was afraid to say even his opinion about the handballs, then they are really useless.
    But I want still to ask: is it possible that several AARS are afraid or they have not the courage to say something?
    I ask for that, because I think it's impossible that they miss everything. They surely see, but often they do nothing.
    This is what I want to understand, and especially UEFA, if it's already decided to go on with this expermint, should give more detailed instructions prior to a match.
    I think that they aren't instructed in the best possible way.
    They are there, trying to see everything, but looking for a bit of everything, they miss the important situations.
    For example, if you take a look at Bognar beehavior, when the foul prior to the 3-0 is committed, you notice that he is moving his head following the ball, without a specific focus, and that's why he missed.
    The same probably was for Johannesson and the penalty missed in favor of Borussia...

  10. Anonymous24/4/13 20:14

    It's obvious that Kassai is a big victim of his hungarian colleagues. At last year's EURO, he was sent home after AAR Vad didn't see that "famous" goal on the match UKR-ENG, and after this UCL semifinal in Munchen, i'm not sure he will be nominated for big matches and tournaments(under UEFA or FIFA).

    Only mixed teams with Elite development referees as AAR and quality non-hungarian AR-s could save his international career as one of the best referees in the last few years..

    1. Anonymous24/4/13 20:37

      I agree with DRAGAN.
      Viktor Kassai officiated a WC semifinal, don't forget.
      He needs a better team accompanying him.

    2. Ring is on his level, the rest not. That could be the truth. Vencel Tóth also is a very good assistant who could accompany him soon. In 2 of 3 matches, Kassai is a worldclass referee in my opinion.

    3. Anonymous24/4/13 21:52

      Kassai is a top-level referee who feels the game and his decisions are always respected by players. He definitely needs better ARs and AARs.

    4. Anonymous25/4/13 06:24

      Kassai was not a worldclass ref in this match. One must blame him for many ridiculous calls. Yeah, he sometimes feels the game so much that missed obvious cards (even red). Why didn't anyone detect Schweinsteiger foul on Alves? Of course, 50-50 ball, but those studs on Alves' foot... Is it reckless? No, it's brutal, so red card missed by Kassai, who stood 5 meters from that!

    5. Never. Schweinsteiger only played the ball and as soon as the ball moved away from his foot, Alves was hit by the studs-up. Free-kick ok, never a red card.

    6. Anonymous25/4/13 13:06

      Do you see Alves' foot after this foul? Effect, brother, effect...

    7. Only considering the effect of a challenge is too narrow-minded, the intention of Schweinsteiger was non-existent. Perhaps reckless, thus yellow, but that was no serious foul play deliberately using excessive force.

    8. Anonymous25/4/13 15:27

      Excessive force or brutality... Such tackle is brutal, we must take into account effect at first, then intention.

    9. At least we agree on the circumstance that it should have been ruled as a foul..because Kassai did not think so.

    10. Anonymous25/4/13 15:49


      Definitely red! Yes, he ignored that...

  11. http://hkref.blogspot.de/2013/04/indecent-assault-in-indonesia.html

    1. Lifetime ban from football, but that should be not enough.

    2. Anonymous25/4/13 15:28

      Finally - brave federation, nice!

  12. Anonymous25/4/13 17:41

    When are the reports ready on the site?

    1. As soon as our reporters are ready.

  13. Anonymous25/4/13 20:41

    Two clear "illegal" goals?

    1) The Pique handball was very professionally done. It could have gone either way, so Kassai and team are at not fault. Was not an obvious handball...was disguised well.

    2) If you watch the replay of the Dante header you can clearly see him jump up BEFORE making contact with the defender. The pictures only LOOK like he is leveraging himself against the defender, but in fact he jumped up and forward but did not go over the top of the defender. The defender was not impeded...he simply did not jump.

    3) The Gomez goal appeared offside. The AR appeared to have the right angle so only he knows for sure.

    4) Mueller was headed the same direction as Alba and they collided. Alba made a meal of the contact (big surprise). When you live by the flop you can also die by it.

    Overall, I think Kassai did a good job. I HATE Bayern but Kassai and his crew did a great job. Tough match and some tough calls.

    1. Anonymous25/4/13 21:04


    2. "3) The Gomez goal appeared offside. The AR appeared to have the right angle so only he knows for sure."
      German TV ZDF had a 3D angle shown after the BVB-Real match regarding this scene, so they were able to go onto the offside line with technology..20-30 cms offside...if you want to contradict that, do it..


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