As recently published, there were some surprises among those officials who attended last week's UEFA Referee Seminar in Nyon. Considering that this gathering was described by UEFA's Refereeing frontman Pierluigi Collina as a warm-up for the next challenging season, there might be some predictions on changes within male officiating teams, because having been invited to this course should definitely have a relevance.
|It seems as if Thomson's ARs must pay for their Dortmund blackouts (c) the-sun|
UEFA invited all Elite and Elite Development referees, no surprises here. Furthermore, nine First Group officials were attending the seminar, among others members of the talent group like Liran Liany or Clément Turpin. It is very likely that these nine referees have huge chances to be appointed for a Champions League match this season, keeping in mind that six Elite officials will miss matchdays 3 and 4 due to FIFA Under-17 World Cup 2013.
The assistant referees nominated certainly create more confusion. But since usually everything makes sense in UEFA refereeing, there must be one for some unexpected names, too..
A small change is looming in Portugal: Olegário Benquerença will be probably assisted by Rui Barbosa Tavares from now on, instead of João Santos (1968), who will soon leave the FIFA list. More interesting things are happening in Scottish refereeing: Derek Rose and Alasdair Ross of Scotland have not been invited to the seminar. Both committed crucial mistakes in Borussia Dortmund - Málaga CF in the Champions League quarterfinals, where specially Ross revealed a lack of alertness and mental concentration on his duty in extremely tense moments. This probably led to a loss of trust in this assistant referee (who never came across any controversy before and actually performed very well at Euro 2012). For this reason, Massimo Busacca, head of FIFA Refereeing, erased Alasdair Ross from the short list for the next World Cup as well, while Rose may stay. Alan Mulvanny replaces Ross on the pre-list. Alan Mulvanny attended the seminar which is a clear hint at a change in the Scottish team also on UEFA level. Concerning Alasdair Ross, the decision to drop him might be logical, but is and stays brutal. Additionally, it is eye-catching that Irish assistant referee Damien MacGraith received a bidding, too. UEFA seems to have great trust in this Irish official, who also functioned as standy AR at Euro 2012. Thomson, Mulvanny and MacGraith acted together in a friendly game in last August. Reading these signals, it appears almost sure to see this team being appointed for CL and EL in future as well. This would be the second mixed team, after Czech Republican Pavel Královec received Slovakian Roman Slyško as AR1, and, besides that, naturally a nice political move by the Italian chief officer.
Two Hungarian assistant referees joined the seminar: György Ring and Vencel Tóth, who performed brilliantly at Under-21 EURO 2013. After several mistakes by Kassai's former assistants, Gábor Eros and Robert Kispál, this might be a good solution for the future. It is quite unprobable that Tóth was just there to accompany István Vad, as normally only Elite referees were joined by their assistants.
Last but not least, the biggest surprise(s). Austrian Roland Brandner and Switzerland's Sandro Pozzi were among the selected assistant referees, even though there are no Austrian and Suisse referees in the two highest referee categories. Both ran the lines at Under-21 EURO 2013, both performed very well and Brandner even assisted Slovenian Matej Jug in the final between Italy and Spain. So why did they attend this seminar? For political purposes or something different? As aforesaid, everything makes sense in this tremendous refereeing management we are experiencing at the moment. Maybe Brandner will accompany an ED referee (Elite seems impossible) like Ivan Bebek, Matej Jug, with whom he went in some matches at the Under-21 EURO finals, or even a German referee, with whom he could communiate appropiately. Nonetheless, that would be certainly astonishing - one may doubt whether this would make that much sense. Different languages except if a German referee is concerned, never working together in the domestic leagues, just for the purpose of politically satisfying some federations and creating a multi-cultural feeling in UEFA's refereeing? Well, this theory might sound logical but at the same time erroneous, it is hard to imagine that such a rotation would lie in both sides' interest - in the referee's and assistant referee's. Same could go for Suisse Sandro Pozzi, who worked with Ivan Bebek, Antony Gautier and Matej Jug in some U-21 EURO matches. Pozzi probably speaks French or Italian, so that - applying the above mentioned procedure - he might join Gautier's team or even someone like Daniele Orsato (many Italian ARs will soon reach the age limit). But that is gambling. At any rate: the first two matchdays awaiting us will show whether these assistant referees' presence meant something, or nothing, and whether this analysis was worth reading, or not.