Most of the officials acting in UEFA Champions League belong to the best of the world and proof their courage to take brave and unpopular decisions in almost every match. Referees are humans and naturally make mistakes. That is no problem. If you imagine a weighing scale and then put their mistakes in the one balance pan and the players' mistakes in the other, the arising imbalance should make some players turn pale. It becomes problematic though if referees do not only make match-relevant mistakes, but carelessly fail to fulfill their duties at the cost of players and the game.
|Ovidiu Hategan failed to react properly to racist incidents (c) telegraph|
Tottenham - Lazio Roma, one year ago. Some hundreds of Italian supporters were imitating monkey screams whenever Spurs' players Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend were involved in play. Referee Ovidiu Alin Hategan of Romania and Cypriot UEFA Delegate Adonis Procopiou submitted reports to UEFA on the basis of which their Control and Disciplinary Body were able to consider further steps against Lazio. In the meantime UEFA have done great efforts to ban racism out of their matches and have developed an Anti-Racism-Protocol consisting of three steps. First, to make a public announcement as soon as racist incidents occur. Second, to stop the game for a sensible period of time. And third, if the incidents continue, to cancel the match immediately.
Last Wednesday, the same like in London happened in Moscow. CSKA Moskva and Manchester City were playing the early match at 18:00 CET under the control of Ovidiu Alin Hategan. City's Yaya Touré was apparently attacked by Russian people who performed monkey yelling in certain occasions. He informed Hategan about these incidents, who took note of that and mentioned it in the match report. However, the Romanian did nothing to stop or prevent this racist slaughter during the match. He did not follow UEFA's guidelines and failed to use the chance to give the latest PR video dealing with UEFA's Anti-Racism policy the needed empirical example. In a nutshell: the referee has not fulfilled his duties as a referee in this match and has behaved in an unacceptable way, if the accusations are valid and veridical. Since UEFA have started an internal investigation, it would be no surprise if the Romanian official did not appear on matchdays 5 or 6. A demotion to First Group as a political consequence might be possible. At any rate, he is owing UEFA, the player concerned and the European football an explanation.
But Moscow was not the only showplace where a referee has flouted his duties in form of a Champions League match. In Lisbon, Benfica and Olympiacos did not play football, but waterpolo: passes did not reach their target, because they were chocked off by puddles. An obvious goal was prevented by such a puddle - Olympiacos would have led by 2:0 in normal circumstances. Instead, Benfica scored a late equalizer. The field conditions must be described as unplayable. Pool supervisor on-site: Alberto Undiano Mallenco. The Spaniard did not seem to have the slightest intent to interrupt or even cancel the match. Neither UEFA Delegate Michael Appleby from England, what can be forgiven, since this Portuguese monsoon might pass off as a temporary shower in Britain ;-).
Speaking seriously, the match should have been suspended for sure. The danger of potential injuries was naturally increased. Specially this single circumstance should have motivated the officials to percept the reality and draw the adequate conclusions. Everybody saw that regular game rules were not ensured this evening. And of course, the officials saw that, too. But they did not do anything.
|A regular match was apparently impossible (c) mirror|
UEFA's slogan is "We care about football". Really? Or do they care about money? Cancelling a Champions League match - is that a no-go for the commercialized football? Must the show always go on? Very likely it must, although recent examples have shown that the opposite is indeed possible, if we remember Björn Kuipers having suspended the EURO 2012 match between Ukraine and France due to heavy rain and thunderstorms in Donetsk. Perhaps it was just a more determined and aware referee team and match delegate, perhaps the scenery was just different because it was a European Championship where matches could be played more flexibly than Champions League matches.
At any rate, Alberto Undiano has flouted his duties and the question is "why?". Also here, the final conclusion is: referees should act responsibly and compliant with their duties at all times. Ignoring that is more serious than the biggest amount of crucial mistakes you can imagine - at least in my humble opinion.