January 12, 2014

World Cup Referees - Predictions for Europe (Part 2)

While the first part of my predictions for the European World Cup referee list solely concentrated on those four nations that were each represented by two short-listed match officials, this text puts stress on the remaining eleven referee trios coming from different nations. Among them, there are surely some safe bets, but also plenty of shaky candidates who have to keep all their fingers crossed to be selected by Busacca and his colleagues. Therefore, this is the most difficult and most arduous analysis of all.

Björn Kuipers will very likely return to Rio de Janeiro


REFEREE with ASSISTANT REFEREES
MA
Date of Birth
FIFA 10-13
Vote
UEFA PART 2
Referee
Cüneyt ÇAKIR
TUR
23.11.1976
13
89%
Assistant 1
Bahattin DURAN
TUR
01.01.1975
13

Assistant 2
Tarik ONĞUN
TUR
01.01.1973
13

Referee
Jonas ERIKSSON
SWE
28.03.1974
8
79%
Assistant 1
Mathias KLASENIUS
SWE
25.04.1975
8

Assistant 2
Daniel WÄRNMARK
SWE
30.12.1974
8

Referee
Viktor KASSAI
HUN
10.09.1975
10
91%
Assistant 1
Gábor ERÖS
HUN
05.09.1971
10

Assistant 2
György RING
HUN
18.03.1981
4

Referee
Pavel KRÁLOVEC
CZE
16.08.1977
12
18%
Assistant 1
Martin WILCZEK
CZE
23.05.1970
12

Assistant 2
Roman SLYŠKO
SVK
04.08.1973
4

Referee
Björn KUIPERS
NED
28.03.1973
8
94%
Assistant 1
Sander VAN ROEKEL
NED
28.03.1974
8

Assistant 2
Erwin ZEINSTRA
NED
31.01.1977
12

Referee
Stéphane LANNOY
FRA
18.09.1969
7
40%
Assistant 1
Frédéric CANO
FRA
23.07.1973
8

Assistant 2
Michaël ANNONIER
FRA
18.06.1972
7

Referee
Milorad MAŽIĆ
SRB
23.03.1973
7
43%
Assistant 1
Milovan RISTIĆ
SRB
01.05.1974
7

Assistant 2
Dalibor DJURDJEVIĆ
SRB
25.03.1973
6

Referee
Svein Oddvar MOEN
NOR
22.01.1979
12
36%
Assistant 1
Kim Thomas HAGLUND
NOR
27.05.1977
14

Assistant 2
Frank ANDÅS
NOR
26.09.1975
9

Referee
Pedro PROENÇA
POR
03.11.1970
7
87%
Assistant 1
Bertino MIRANDA
POR
18.05.1972
11

Assistant 2
Tiago TRIGO
POR
10.12.1973
7

Referee
Damir SKOMINA
SVN
05.08.1976
7
75%
Assistant 1
Matej ŽUNIČ
SVN
11.05.1983
7

Assistant 2
Bojan UL
SVN
20.08.1970
7

Referee
Craig THOMSON
SCO
20.06.1972
5
31%
Assistant 1
Derek ROSE
SCO
21.07.1974
5

Assistant 2
Alan MULVANNY
SCO
13.03.1980
4

 
As written above, we have to examine eleven referee trios for the last seven remaining places on the World Cup list. Six of them will function as main trios meaning that they will actively take charge of matches in Brazil and one of them will be the standby team that accompany their colleagues into several matches as fourth official and reserve assistant referee (also called fifth official in FIFA circles). As four referees have to be ruled out by a method of elimination, it is useful to start like that. It is however important to mention that naturally all the nineteen pre-selected referees have their abilities and are, in principle, good referees. 

Scottish Craig Thomson is one of these referees. The lawyer specialized in building and engineering law has proven his skills in multiple matches but has frequently failed to get a certain consistency into his performances. No doubt, you need consistency to be reliable and predictable for the men who are in charge of appointing you. His UEFA club competition performances have been good in some matches and poor in some others. Everybody remembers matches like Twente vs Schalke 04 or Borussia Dortmund vs Málaga CF, where he and his team-mates took decisions that aroused (too) much attention in the medial aftermath. Besides, as I often pointed out also in terms of the Slovenian trio, it is relevant to keep in mind that FIFA has to select referee teams and not just the referees. Thomson did not have much luck with his assistant referees. I don't think that I have to go into detail here. Alasdair Ross was subsequently replaced by Alan Mulvanny after his night in Dortmund, Derek Rose stayed in the team, who made an important error in the Scottish team's second match at EURO 2012, too. In Paris vs Olympiakos, Rose furthermore made a very obvious and blatant crucial mistake by missing a clear offside position prior to a goal. Taking all this into account, it should surprise me very much to see Thomson and his team nominated for the World Cup.
Nevertheless, there is one matter which might question this conclusion: Thomson was assigned for the U-17 World Cup final between Nigeria and Mexico in 2013 and performed well. It is however difficult to say whether this was a reward for a good tournament meaning that his chances have remarkably increased by that or whether it was just an opportunity to test this official under high pressure. Certainly, this tournament and final did not weaken his chances to be selected. But I doubt that they enlarged it, too. His World Cup qualifiers were not exceptionally important either: Thomson refereed Finland vs France (Oguz Sarvan, TUR) and Romania vs Netherlands (Alfredo Trentalange, ITA, FIFA Committee). Despite Trentalange's importance as observer, I am convinced that these qualifiers and his only FIFA tournament are not enough to compensate or exceed the impression this referee team have conveyed over the past months. Thomson won't be selected from my point of view.

Same probably counts for Czech Republican Pavel Královec. He is, compared to his colleagues on the pre-list, quite inexperienced on the international stage but very familiar with FIFA organized competitions having attended plenty of them. At U-17 World Cup 2011, he showed very good performances in all his matches and almost confirmed it at the Olympic Games in 2012. Based on FIFA's video analysis, he however made at least two crucial mistakes in the semifinal tie between Korea Republic and Brazil. That was unfortunately the last and most striking impression he gave at this competition. At U-17 World Cup 2013, he showed some good performances in not so relevant matches. Due to this high number of FIFA tournaments, Královec was the European referee with the second highest number of FIFA matches since 2010. For sure, he is a referee for the future (born in 1977), who will have strong chances to be chosen for EURO 2016 and also World Cup 2018. That's why the committee are very likely observing his progress that closely. Peter Mikkelsen for example observed him in the World Cup qualifier between Serbia and Belgium. After that, he only took charge of Poland vs Ukraine observed by former World Cup referee Michel Vautrot of France. 
A quite interesting thing happened in Královec's team in 2012. Originally (back in 2011), his assistant referees were Martin Wilczek and Miroslav Zlamal. Zlamal was then replaced by Kordula following problems with the Czech referee committee. Kordula hence accompanied Královec in many Champions League matches and at Olympic Games 2012 as well. As you probably remember, Královec was one of four standby referees at EURO 2012. Slovakian Roman Slyško, who formerly assisted Luboš Michel, was present at the tournament in Poland and the Ukraine as reserve assistant referee. Královec and Slyško were always appointed together in their matches and were on very good terms on each other in their character. Therefore, Pierluigi Collina had an idea. Upon consultation with Dagmar Damková, he asked Královec whether he could imagine to be assisted by Slyško in future. He agreed (or he had to agree). Certainly, Slyško is a very good and, in particular, very experienced assistant. But I don't want to know how it must have felt for Kordula. I however doubt that this potentially political move will impress Busacca. I don't see a chance for Královec to receive a World Cup call-up. At least not in 2014.

Having excluded these two referee trios, I would like to presume that the following three officiating teams are about to be safely chosen next week. We can start with Dutchman Björn Kuipers who has been recently elected as Europe's Best Referee of the last 2012/13 campaign and as the World's Best Referee of 2013 by our community. Since his actually poor EURO 2012, he has become a rising star in UEFA by showing excellent performances along with his two assistant referees. I often enough expressed my estimation for this referee so that I would like to shorten it a bit. Given the FIFA Confederations Cup final and the very good performances in Champions League, Europa League and World Cup qualifier matches (Austria vs Germany with Bertrand Layec (FRA), Bosnia vs Greece with Markus Nobs (SUI), Poland vs Montenegro with Dušan Krchnak (SVK), Switzerland vs Slovenia with Miroslav Tulinger (CZE) and, in the play-offs, Croatia vs Iceland with David Elleray (ENG, UEFA Committee)). These observers indicate that FIFA had no doubts about this referee after his brilliant Confed Cup. The Netherlands will finally have a World Cup referee again - Jan Wegereef was the last official who had received such a nomination in 2002.

Portugal's Pedro Proença is next. Without any doubt, his year 2012 was fantastic. He performed well in four EURO 2012 matches including the final between Spain and Italy. Only a few weeks earlier, he had very well overseen the Champions League final between hosts Bayern München and Chelsea FC. Along with Bertino Miranda and his flexibly changing assistant referees Ricardo Santos (until 2012) and Tiago Trigo (since 2012), he surely heads one of the most reliable European trios. It should not be veiled that they had remarkable problems after these finals though. Proença's group stage in 2012/13 UEFA Champions League was nothing else but poor. Somehow, he did not show the necessary concentration and feeling for the game in his matches anymore. This impression intensified in the World Cup qualifier between Germany and Sweden, the famous 4:4. Proença missed two fouls preceding two Swedish goals and showed some inconsistencies apart from that, too. Maybe that's quite human after this previous season he had. Probably he asked the committee and specially Collina for a small break in the k.o. stage, where he did not receive a match, which should be principally considered as quite odd speaking of a referee who handled two huge finals in the previous season. However, he returned onto the pitch leaving ambivalent sentiments: Ukraine vs England and Napoli vs Dortmund have been quite good, while Galatasaray vs Juventus and specially his World Cup play-off between Greece and Romania (Juan Fernández Marín, ESP) were not that good. Concerning his World Cup qualifiers and the respective assessors - they show that FIFA seems to be quite sure about this referee: Hungary vs Netherlands (Andreas Schluchter, SUI), Germany vs Sweden (Stefano Farina, ITA), Ukraine vs England (Oguz Sarvan, TUR), Albania vs Switzerland (Michel Vautrot, FRA) and finally his play-off mentioned above. No real high-profile observer is among them (= committee or very high importance / power). Proença's only FIFA competition was the Confed Cup, where he took charge of the opener match and Uruguay vs Tahiti. Both performances were good, even though he partly struggled to maintain the full control in the second match.
The Portuguese's merits acquired in 2012 are simply too big to ignore them. Even though Proença did not count to the best officials in the last year, he is a safe bet for the World Cup list in my opinion.

One of the officials with the most remarkable development over the last year(s) has been Swedish Jonas Eriksson. To be honest, I did not believe he could take such a progress back in 2010 or 2011. But he showed totally convincing performances and has a quality most of his colleagues in the Elite Group can only aspire or dream of: his player management and natural authority are amazing and respectable. This became visible in the combatted qualifier between the Ukraine and Poland, for example. Due to the high importance and tight situation in the group then, this Eastern European duel started with much heat already in the very first minutes. It was impressive to see how a referee's determination and approach can calm down and control such intense matches after some minutes. That's the maybe most important strength of a referee at this level, which also qualified him to take charge of a Europa League semifinal and the Super Cup final 2013 between Bayern and Chelsea. His assistant referees Klasenius and Wärnmark are very good as well.
If Eriksson was a totally complete referee, he would be UEFA's hero and of course, everybody has his weakness, or in UEFA diplomacy, "points to improve". In his case, I felt that the accuracy in the decision-taking (midfield duels, penalty area incidents) can sometimes turn out to be a problem. He can easily avoid that in future and the past matches have been much better in this regard, maybe with the exception of Ajax vs AC Milan where he awarded a wrong penalty kick in the additional time which had a crucial impact on the group standings.
Eriksson fully convinced at his only FIFA tournament, the U-20 World Cup 2013. After a rather debatable red card in his first match, he handled Spain vs France and a semifinal in a very good manner. Specially the semifinal that went into penalty shoot-out was tough to control, but the Swedish completely succeeded in it. In our referee observation reports, Eriksson also has one of the highest mark averages, by the way. His World Cup qualifiers were Scotland vs Serbia assessed by FIFA Committee member Michael Riley (ENG), Montenegro vs England (Miroslav Liba, CZE), Italy vs Czech Republic (Jean Lemmer, LUX) and last but not least the already mentioned Ukraine vs Poland match observed by Belgium's Guy Goethals. Furthermore, Eriksson was appointed to take control over an intercontinental play-off. In Montevideo's famous Centenario Stadium, he showed a good performance in Uruguay vs Jordan having correctly rejected an appeal for a penalty kick due to an allegedly deliberate handball. This match was observed by Greek UEFA Committee member Kyros Vassaras.
In a nutshell I can only say that Eriksson definitely has the format of a World Cup referee. And I predict that he will be selected, too. Some matches could require this type of refereeing. Perhaps even Netherlands vs Spain.

These three officials don't have to tremble if my predictions and reading of the situation are right. Does this also count for certain referees everybody would have called "100% World Cup referees" a year ago?

Viktor Kassai is one of them. The Hungarian, who became the youngest Champions League final referee ever in 2011, had to fight for his World Cup place from my point of view. Specially after EURO 2012, Bayern München vs FC Barcelona and the following U-20 World Cup, where he did not show his best, gave some cause for concern. We all remember the missed goal by his AAR1 István Vad in the Ukraine which excluded the Hungarian team from the entire k.o. stage (even though Kassai himself was good in both matches). This weak trend specially counts for his assistant referee Gábor Erös. The 42-year old made way too many crucial mistakes in the past and was consequently replaced by Vencel Tóth in UEFA competitions and not invited to the last UEFA seminar. At the same time, Erös has stayed on the pre-list. The explanation could be quite easy. On FIFA level, i.e. on the pre-list, the national association and the main referee himself can decide who is to assist him in FIFA tournaments and preferably at the World Cup as well, while on UEFA level the committee select the assistant referees since the start of the current season. Back in late 2010, Erös was diagnosed with cancer but successfully recovered from it and crowned his comeback with his performance in Wembley final. Without any doubt, Kassai and Erös are very much linked on a human side. I could imagine that he is insisting on having Erös in his team no matter what comes. If it is like that, chapeau. Based on performance principle, this is however a hazard. But sometimes having a functioning and deep human relation is much more important than staying faultless in Champions League matches. We talk about a World Cup and not about some individual matches. It's another dimension. His second assistant referee, György Ring, is for sure one of the best ARs Europe has to offer and will greatly contribute to this team.
The most relevant aspect talking about Kassai is however his credit within FIFA. He attended World Cup 2010 as the most inexperienced referee from Europe and left it as the best. His three matches were excellent so that FIFA took a good decision to nominate him for the semifinal between Germany and Spain. Unfortunately, he did not show his best performance because of a missed dogso and some mistakes of his assistants, but in the end, he controlled this match without any card and with many soft skills. This referee cannot stay at home. I am quite sure that FIFA will think exactly in this pattern. His qualifiers were overall good and very important: Russia vs Portugal (Francesco Bianchi, SUI), France vs Spain (Bo Karlsson, SWE, UEFA Committee), Bulgaria vs Czech Republic (Rune Pedersen, NOR) and the intercontinental play-off between Mexico and New Zealand supervised by UEFA Committee member Jozef Marko (SVK) in Estadio Azteca. In the end, Kassai could have had this ticket to Brazil much easier. But I think in the end he got it.

Turkish Cüneyt Çakır was the referee who got our small award as the World's Best Referee one year before Kuipers, in 2012. His EURO 2012 including the Iberian semifinal has been very good. Surely he is one the European referees with the biggest courage. If you remember FC Barcelona vs Chelsea FC, the whole trouble around it, this game's historical background and the tension due to the first leg result, you surely need some courage to send off a worldclass defender such as John Terry without hesitating in the 38th minute. And I am also sure that most of Çakır's colleagues would have chosen the comfortable solution in Old Trafford one year later by not sending off Nani for his high-foot tackle against Real Madrid and only issuing a yellow card. But the Turkish official had enough bottle to take the decision that was correct in his opinion, regardless whether it was unpopular, whether it was hitting the home team and whether Pierluigi Collina was just a few metres away on the seats. If Collina observes such a referee in such a match and in such a stage of Champions League, it is quite apparent that Çakır was originally planned to take charge of Wembley final. But after this medial aftermath and the hysterical reaction by venerable Sir Alex, who has often enough proven his disrespect for refereeing, this was politically not possible anymore, as it seems. According to strong rumours, Çakır was moreover not supported by the committee who voted in favour of a yellow card at a meeting in spring 2013. If this is true - and the source is reliable - that's surely the support you dream of as a referee having had such a match. He did not receive any match after round of 16, maybe to prevent further medial bashing. One thing is remarkable. Since then, Çakır missed three more or less clear red cards in matches that were played in the second part of 2013 (in a match at U-20 World Cup for serious foul play, in Celtic vs AC Milan for a clear serious foul play and in Marseille vs Napoli for a clear violent conduct by using the elbow as a weapon (and also a clear penalty kick, by the way) - Çakır had an optimum line of sight and position to evaluate it as such but only issued yellow cards). I don't want to interpret too much into it. But my honest impression is that some people have managed to streamline Çakır, more or less the bastion of courage in the Elite Group... No courageous decisions anymore, the easy solution instead of the more complicated one, yellow cards instead of red cards. Apparently his insouciance has got lost somehow. It seems as if he has learnt from his own destiny and in the end, that's clever: You obviously get Champions League finals by such a style and by attracting the smallest attention in the media as proven last year. And the Turkish would be stupid to risk something preceding the World Cup. If courage is not rewarded, this can be the result.
FIFA tested Çakır several times in the last years and therefore he is the European referee with the highest number of FIFA matches (13). He was present at U-20 World Cup 2011 in Colombia and took charge of five matches. In 2013, he only handled two matches at the U-20 tournament in his home country. Both performances were acceptable but not really shining. Between these two competitions, he was in control over the 2012 Club World Cup final between Corinthians and Chelsea FC and performed brilliantly. I think that this impression could be most influential with regards to Busacca's selection. Just after Old Trafford, Çakır well refereed the Balcan derby's first leg in Zagreb (Croatia vs Serbia, observed by German Edgar Steinborn). Before that, he had already whistled England vs Ukraine at Wembley having some problems (Jean Lemmer, LUX) and after the derby, he was in charge of Sweden vs Austria assessed by FIFA Committee member Michael Riley. In Sweden, he sent off an Austrian for a headbutt that originally arised from his Swedish opponent. Therefore, the red card was a wrong decision or should have at least been accompanied by a red card for the Swedish as well (a typical category 3 decision). In a sum one can say that his qualifiers were overall important, but that his performances were not always great. In the play-offs, he was much better and somehow was the "old Çakır". In Ukraine vs France, he showed a very high level of match control, correctly evaluated at least four penalty area decisions including a given penalty kick and rightly sent off two players. This match was observed by Alfredo Trentalange and therefore one of the most important matches of the Turkish official's path to the World Cup.
Along with Bahattin Duran and Tarik Ongun, I believe that Busacca will take the correct decision as we were mostly used to in his active career - Çakır should be in the World Cup list. But without any doubt, he is not as sure as he was a year ago anymore.

Only four referees are left for the remaining two places. As I reckon the previously mentioned officials as main- and not standby referees, we are looking for the last referee team acting on the pitch and one team managing the benches and assisting the trios as fourth official and reserve assistant respectively.

UEFA Referee Committee's favourite referee seems to be Milorad Mažić from Serbia at the moment. His progress has been impressive over the last couple of months and he has definitely arrived at the peak of European refereeing. Appointments for matches like FC Barcelona vs AC Milan or Arsenal FC vs SSC Napoli reinforce that. And although he is only in Elite Group since last June, his mark average is probably one of the highest of all officials. His style is definitely unique. There was not any very clear mistake in his UEFA matches recently - even though I still regard the penalty kick given in Camp Nou as a wrong decision, but that depends on the individual assessment of the observer. And as Vlado Sajn was the observer in this match, who is responsible for Balcan refereeing in the committee, it is very unprobable that he ruled this whistle as a crucial mistake.
At any rate, Mažić's approach is maybe a bit similar to Çakır's in terms of their insouciance. The Serbian is doing his job on the pitch and not impressed by big names, stadiums or other surrounding circumstances. His decision-taking is accurate and following a clear line. His biggest point to improve is his card management which is sometimes a bit inconsistent for my taste. Inspite of his inexperience compared to some of his colleagues, he has turned out to be a very stable referee to whom one can entrust big clashes. But, as said, he is inexperienced despite his rather advanced age. That's why FIFA followed this referee more intensely and closely than most of the other officials. Many FIFA Committee members and powerful observers supervised his matches, particularly in the qualifiers: Estonia vs Romania (Alfredo Trentalange, ITA), Turkey vs Hungary (Stephen Bennett, ENG), Germany vs Austria (Peter Mikkelsen, DEN) and Azerbaijan vs Russia (Siegfried Kirschen, GER). In addition he was selected to handle the second leg between Romania and Greece (again Alfredo Trentalange) in the play-offs, where he missed a penalty kick and struggled a bit in the rest of the game as well. Unfortunately, Mažić had his "worst" performances in these qualifiers. On the other hand, his only FIFA competition was quite good (U-20 World Cup 2013). In the end, I have my doubts that this referee will be chosen by Busacca. Of course Collina can potentially lobby a bit for him sitting at the table in Zurich next week. But in Mažić's own interest, I would propose to consider him for EURO 2016 and World Cup 2018 only. He needs more experience and should not be overloaded with too much at once. Thus the place as fourth official would be an option, but I expect someone else there. It is a pity, but I think that this World Cup comes a year too early for the Serbian trio.

Can you imagine a World Cup without a French referee team? Personally, I could in my fantasy but surely not in reality. Undoubtfully, French refereeing is in a difficult time. Since Alain Sars, they have actually not produced any real top referee in recent years. Stéphane Lannoy has achieved a lot such as a semifinal at EURO 2012, but he is not a real top referee either. They are surely aiming at closing the gap between Lannoy, born in 1969, and the next generation referees such as Turpin or Bastien, who still need time as they are quite young. Therefore, the committee apparently have put trust, hopes or at least their best wishes into referees like Tony Chapron or Antony Gautier, who were unable to fulfill these expectations on international level. The last word is not said in Gautier's case, but he is surely far behind the requirements that the pending EURO 2016 in France is actually demanding. So, it is Lannoy who is planned to go to Brazil. Maybe he is even going to finish his international career there. Some honest words must be said at this point.
FIFA's experiences with Lannoy are de facto disastrous. His performances at World Cup 2010 were below expected level. While he still performed solidly in Netherlands vs Denmark, Brazil vs Côte d'Ivoire certainly was one of the worst performances of the entire World Cup. No control, missed red cards and two missed deliberate handballs by Luis Fabiano prior to a goal are the summary. And not to forget that he even asked Fabiano whether he had handled the ball. For some odd reasons, Busacca was sent home and Lannoy stayed until the round of 16 accompanying Undiano into Netherlands vs Slovakia - this circumstance might be quite ironical but in the end well mirrors FIFA's special interpretation of the performance principle. So the fact that Lannoy has already attended a World Cup is in his case no advantage but rather a deterrent factor. At least it should be like that.
At EURO 2012 and specially in the first half of 2013 (having been injured in late 2012), Lannoy has proven to be an absolutely reliable and solid referee though. He benefits from his experience and has really improved over the time. As said, Lannoy suffered from an injury in 2012 so that he missed the whole group stage of CL. He came back with a very good performance in Israel vs Portugal observed by Alfredo Trentalange. Lannoy confirmed this positive impression in Belgium vs Serbia (Roberto Rosetti, ITA). And the last qualifier was rather irrelevant (Denmark vs Italy, Leslie Irvine from Northern Ireland was the observer). His U-20 World Cup was quite good. Although he only got two matches, he showed good performances and a high level of authority and control. Nonetheless, there is one fact leading to some doubts in my mind. Lannoy did not get a play-off, neither on European, nor on intercontinental level. Of course not every pre-list referees can get a play-off, as there were only 12 of them. But if he had savoured really big confidence by the committee, he could have got one of the important matches, which he did not. At the evening of the play-offs, he well refereed the friendly between England and Germany as a compensation - perhaps FIFA even used this match as another opportunity to observe Lannoy internally. And, another thing. The French official's group stage in Champions League has been quite poor. He slightly struggled in Celtic vs FC Barcelona, lacked self-confidence and authority in FC Basel vs Chelsea FC and made a clear and very strange crucial mistake in Leverkusen vs Shakhtar. So this group stage is no real argument for Lannoy. But I am actually sure that FIFA will choose a French trio just for political reasons and with Lannoy they have found a referee who seems to be rather reliable on his good days, which would justify the selection. However, I cannot imagine to see him as fourth official only. It would be in line with performance principle, but I don't think so. This place is reserved for either Moen or Skomina according to my predictions.

Comparing Moen and Skomina is difficult. Moen is younger and more inexperienced, Skomina is older and higher appreciated by UEFA. Both are in the Elite Group for a while and have developed to reliable and good referees. Skomina was entrusted to big matches already in 2011 and specially in 2012, while Moen has just become a candidate for such clashes. The Slovenian showed an overall satisfying EURO 2012 but nothing more. Despite his crucial mistake in Netherlands vs Denmark, he was allowed to stay at the tournament and even handled a round of 16 match, basically because some other referees made the more obvious mistakes (= more medial attention). It is apparent in every match Skomina handles that he has not finished his development and is still able to improve. He is surely one of the more lenient referees offering the play and players more room to prosper than his colleagues. Mostly this style worked and led to good matches. Matches like Chelsea FC vs SL Benfica in 2012 or FC Barcelona vs Bayern München show that he has reached the peak of UEFA refereeing and is able to perform well in these matches with some room for improvement. This positive trend culminated in being the fourth official in Wembley final 2013.
However, things have become different in 2013/14, i.e. in the decisive period prior to the World Cup. In Manchester Utd. vs Leverkusen, his young assistant referee Matej Žunič missed a clear offside goal leading to some controversies in its aftermath. The Slovenian team had shown that they were not functioning as a team by 100%. Of course, mistakes can happen and this one was even easy to avoid. But unfortunately, something similar happened in their play-off match between France and the Ukraine in Stade de France. Žunič made two crucial mistakes within a short period of time, mistakes that were a step too obvious and intensifying the impression conveyed in Manchester that this team are lacking in teamwork and interaction. Skomina's assistant referee did not appear in the line-up of the Champions League match in Plzen - a suspension is possible and also probable. Originally Skomina was foreseen to take charge of Celtic vs AC Milan in Champions League but got a break as well. I personally believe that until this play-off, Skomina was actually a sure name for the World Cup. Since he does not have that much support and credit in FIFA (contrary to Kassai, Lannoy etc.), such clear mistakes are painful and could cost the World Cup. As I often stressed in these analyses, referee trios are selected and if a team turn out to fail in working appropiately, that's no good basis for selecting this team. And France vs Ukraine was observed by Peter Mikkelsen - the committee were therefore table to see these mistakes live. By the way, since Primož Arhar and Marko Stančin left Skomina's team due to their age (1968), there are multiple young and inexperienced assistant referees. Apparently, there is nobody who could swiftly replace Žunič if this had been a topic; the generation change of assistant referees seems to be quite hard.
Skomina moreover only attended one FIFA competition, U-20 World Cup 2013, where he handled two matches. Among his World Cup qualifiers, there was only one real top-class match: Portugal vs Russia observed by Adrian Casha of Malta. He performed well, correctly rejected a penalty appeal for an allegedly deliberate handball but actually fell for a dive of CR7 leading to the only goal of the evening after the consecutive free-kick. His other qualifiers were Italy vs Denmark (Kaj Natri, FIN), Ireland vs Sweden (László Vagner, HUN) and England vs Poland (Jaap Uilenberg, NED, UEFA Committee). He performed very well in these matches, specially at Wembley.
The conclusion is very difficult to draw. Even though I think that Skomina would deserve the World Cup ticket, the play-off, the defective teamwork and predominantly the missing support within FIFA lead me to the assumption that there won't be a Slovenian team at the World Cup. I don't hope it, but I fear so.
Another sign indicating that is the rising development of Svein Moen over the last months. Last season, he got some sonorous and important matches like Arsenal FC vs Bayern München or Real Madrid vs Galatasaray, but did not manage to totally convince in these matches. But at least this has clearly shown the very positive and promising trend the 34-year-old paramedic has been taking. In 2013/14 group stage, FC Barcelona vs Ajax Amsterdam, Chelsea FC vs Schalke 04 and Leverkusen vs Manchester Utd. were his matches. Surely not the worst ones. And his good performance at Stamford Bridge was furthermore observed by UEFA Vice Chief Officer of Refereeing Marc Batta. While Skomina's team more or less failed in Paris, Moen showed a very good performance in the intercontinental play-off between Jordan and Uruguay in front of Bertrand Layec. Appointing such a young referee for this match emphasizes the trust Busacca must have in him - even though a political background cannot be excluded, as always. And that's the interesting point: FIFA seems to rate Moen much higher than UEFA does. Moen took charge of twelve FIFA matches, among others of the U-17 World Cup final in front of almost 100.000 supporters in Estadio Azteca in 2011 (Erwin Zeinstra, Kuipers' AR2, was his assistant by the way). Additionally, he took part in the Olympic Games and in U-17 World Cup 2013, where he confirmed the positive development in matches like Brazil vs Mexico. His qualifiers were not always totally important but overall good. The observers were never members of the referee committee, which was not necessary due to his high number of FIFA tournaments. Anyway some important Scottish assessors were present in his games: Georgia vs Spain with Jan Fasung (SVK), Czech Republic vs Italy with Donald McVicar (SCO, Balotelli was correctly sent off in this match) and Romania vs Turkey with Alan Freeland (SCO) were his matches. Busacca and company seem to like Moen and UEFA has started to push him more this season. That's why I believe both federations are putting great trust into this young referee looking forward to EURO 2016, World Cup 2018 and more. That's why they could consider it as an excellent opportunity to accredit Moen with some useful experiences and insights at World Cup 2014 forming the standby team with his assistant referees Kim Haglund and Frank Andås. No doubt, actually Skomina is a level above Moen taking into account their achievements and experience, but in FIFA, different things can make the difference.

After this long but hopefully not tiring speech, I predict / propose these European referees for World Cup 2014. At the bottom you can furthermore find the complete overviews on my predictions and the community vote ("the wisdom of the crowd"):


REFEREE with ASSISTANT REFEREES
MA
Date of Birth
UEFA REFEREES – 10 TRIOS + 1 STANDBY TRIO
Referee
Felix BRYCH
GER
03.08.1975
Assistant 1
Mark BORSCH
GER
14.05.1975
Assistant 2
Stefan LUPP
GER
16.03.1977
Referee
Cüneyt ÇAKIR
TUR
23.11.1976
Assistant 1
Bahattin DURAN
TUR
01.01.1975
Assistant 2
Tarik ONĞUN
TUR
01.01.1973
Referee
Jonas ERIKSSON
SWE
28.03.1974
Assistant 1
Mathias KLASENIUS
SWE
25.04.1975
Assistant 2
Daniel WÄRNMARK
SWE
30.12.1974
Referee
Viktor KASSAI
HUN
10.09.1975
Assistant 1
Gábor ERÖS
HUN
05.09.1971
Assistant 2
György RING
HUN
18.03.1981
Referee
Björn KUIPERS
NED
28.03.1973
Assistant 1
Sander VAN ROEKEL
NED
28.03.1974
Assistant 2
Erwin ZEINSTRA
NED
31.01.1977
Referee
Stéphane LANNOY
FRA
18.09.1969
Assistant 1
Frédéric CANO
FRA
23.07.1973
Assistant 2
Michaël ANNONIER
FRA
18.06.1972
Referee
Pedro PROENÇA
POR
03.11.1970
Assistant 1
Bertino MIRANDA
POR
18.05.1972
Assistant 2
Tiago TRIGO
POR
10.12.1973
Referee
Nicola RIZZOLI
ITA
05.10.1971
Assistant 1
Renato FAVERANI
ITA
25.11.1969
Assistant 2
Andrea STEFANI
ITA
15.10.1969
Referee
Alberto UNDIANO MALLENCO
ESP
08.10.1973
Assistant 1
Raúl CABAÑERO MARTÍNEZ
ESP
28.08.1981
Assistant 2
Roberto DÍAZ PÉREZ
ESP
29.04.1976
Referee
Howard WEBB
ENG
14.07.1971
Assistant 1
Michael MULLARKEY
ENG
03.05.1970
Assistant 2
Darren CANN
ENG
22.01.1969

Referee
Svein Oddvar MOEN
NOR
22.01.1979
Assistant 1
Kim Thomas HAGLUND
NOR
27.05.1977
Assistant 2
Frank ANDÅS
NOR
26.09.1975

Lists:
The World Cup List based on my Predictions
The World Cup List based on the Community Votes

70 Comments:

  1. Yet another superbly written piece - kudos to you.
    I will be devastated if Skomina is not chosen. His performance in the England - Poland game was one of the best I've witnessed. Shame about what happened in FRA-UKR game...
    My choices are:
    Felix Brych (GER)
    Cüneyt Çakır (TUR)
    Jonas Eriksson (SWE)
    Viktor Kassai (HUN)
    Björn Kuipers (NED)
    Pedro Proença (POR)
    Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)
    Damir Skomina (SVN)
    Alberto Undiano Mallenco (ESP)
    Howard Webb (ENG)
    Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR) [Reserve]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous16/1/14 14:58

      7/10=not good.

      Delete
    2. That's 70%, IMO that's very good. :)
      In England that would be a grade A.

      Delete
  2. Well... WOW.

    I've praised your predictions a number of times but I feel it's fitting to do so once more. These may be Niclas E's predictions, but they are backed up with such a high level of expertise and analysis that they will probably be very close to Busacca's press release in a few days. In fact, I would like to see Busacca's choices and explanations laid out in exactly the same way ;-)

    An illustration of the convincing case you make is that you are able to sell leaving Skomina at home in a way that I fully understand. Even though he is one of my favourite referees!

    Not sure whether it is wise to share my take on these referees, as they are largely the same as yours. I would not have envisioned Skomina out, but who do I switch him with? Lannoy has finally shown he merits a tournament appointment since 2012 after undeserved selections in 2010 and 2012 in my eyes.

    Once again, brilliant work and I look forward to the announcement.

    One question: which pre-WC tournament did Bertino Miranda attend without Proença and Trigo? Or is WC 2010 with Benquerença also counted?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :) I am honoured. You won't see Busacca laying everything out as 50% of the selection will be done based on politics.

      Yes, exactly. For FIFA, World Cup 2010 also plays a role, that's why Edward and I included it in the statistics.

      Delete
    2. I feel I should honour Edward too. Well done to both of you!

      It certainly does, I would mention referees for whom that counted a lot (e.g. Undiano) but you have already included it in the analysis where appropriate :)

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Thomas :).

      Delete
  3. Anonymous12/1/14 17:25

    Very well written!

    But I can never imagine that Skomina will not be appointed. He is so much better than Undiano Mallenco and Lannoy. It will be interesting to see what path the FIFA Referees Committee decides to take: the merit/performance based or the political. I hope they choose the first.

    I agree with all appointments made by Niclas - with two exceptions:

    In my own view Undiano Mallenco should not go, and instead Skomina should enter the field in Brazil. And I would pick Mazic instead of Moen as reserve. Both of them will surely be present in EURO 2016, and Moen probably in FIFA World Cup 2018. I doubt Mazic will be present then, since it his last year on the FIFA list in 2018. And as a consolation from FIFA I would give him the reserve spot this summer, if I was on the committee.

    But - I can now reveal to all - I am not on the committee so take it as a good guess and nothing more :-)

    /Swedish observer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous13/1/14 08:27

      Skomina is not better that Undiano and Lannoy. Skomina can go as
      reserve.

      Delete
    2. After the match of Paris, Skomina could not go to Brazil.

      Delete
  4. Can't remember a penalty in the Uruguay - Jordan game led by Ericsson. Sure that's correct?

    Would like to see Kralovec and Mazic at the WC.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too many matches in my mind. It is corrected, thank you.
      Swedish observer, if I had posted what my wishes are, I would have completely agreed with you. :)

      Delete
    2. No problem, amazing and surely tiring work all that. I was just a little shocked and thought i would have missed such a crucial event in the game. :)

      Seems like I'm the only one who would leave Cakir out.

      Delete
  5. Only one contrary word (maybe a wish) to this fantastic overview:
    Kassai out, Mazic in

    I 100% agree with the rest!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous12/1/14 18:36

    Fantastic read! well done!! This may sound a ridiculous question....will there be AARs at the world cup? Or with the use of goal line technology they will not be required?

    With your predictions I totally agree with everything apart from the reserve. I think the reserve will be Craig Thomson of Scotland.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. It seems UEFA and FIFA are are at odds as to which "method" to use. UEFA clearly like the look of AARs which have been utilised in the CL and EL for a couple of years now, while FIFA believe it is time to take a more technological approach.
      FIFA confirmed back in October that they will use GLT at the World Cup Finals:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24484607

      Delete
  7. 1/2
    I must congratulate you Niclas, for this long and detailed analysis. As also written by Thomas, this is "just your analysis" but at the same time you have shown to have a full knowledge of the topic. You surely, and please accept these words, know more than certain FIFA observers and in several aspects probably even more than Busacca himself!
    Busacca should read here and applaud you.

    Now, onto the question: I will mention at first the names (among the ones in this part 2, of course) who are in my opinion sure of the WC call.
    Bjorn Kuipers and his impressive 2013: he doesn't deserve further analysis and words, he will be at WC.
    Jonas Eriksson: his 2013 was very good, not excellent as Kuipers one, but just a small step behind. Merely based on performances, and looking at his growth inside UEFA, he must be in Brazil as one of the most experienced UEFA officials.
    Other three sure names are (of course): Kassai, Proença and Cakir. Each official here has a different story, anyway, as you excellently pointed out in your post. Until a few years ago, we were almost sure that (for example in the middle of 2012, prior to EURO) Kassai and Proença were sure names for the WC. But then, especially the Hungarian official, experienced something that he never had faced in the past. A very poor (we must be honest) season, after his Euro 2012 blatant mistake (not his fault of course) in Ukraine - England. Nevertheless, I must admit that in the last times (especially his last CL performance) he came back as very solid and experienced referee. We can't leave him at home. The speech about Proença is a bit different, he had almost never big problems, as Kassai had, but at the end, after the two refereed finals in 2012, he also appeared to be quite "relaxed" in several circumstances (if you understand what I mean). Anyway, absolutely nothing relevant to prejudice a WC presence.
    I also noticed the big change in Cakir that you have mentioned, he was reluctant to show red cards, after the controversial situation in Manchester United - Real Madrid, but at the end this was his only "problem" (if we can use this term) in the last two o three years, so he absolutely deserves the ticket.
    Now the speech regarding the remaining names, I must admit, becomes difficult.
    Lannoy: a referee who probably had his last good performances at EURO2012. Then, nothing else. We can't reason about him without taking into account the power of the France, nevertheless, I want still to believe that he will be out. The fact that he was not appointed for a UEFA play off is clearly a signal. We could think that FIFA did that on purpose, trying to avoid a "spoil" for him, but at the same time, we must look at Moen, appointed for an intercontinental play off. One might have expected the name of the experienced French official, instead of the young Norwegian.
    And therefore, Moen is the next referee in my analysis: his growth both at FIFA and UEFA level this year (I mean 2013) was really remarkable. I didn't expected a such exploit, being honest. I would like to see him acting as fourth official, it would be deserved and also a very important experience for the next big tournaments.
    Mazic: I of course can't deny his impressive and excellent achievements at UEFA level in the last year, starting from 2011. Nevertheless, he was lucky, in my opinion, to be immediately added in this prelist. Of course, it isn't his fault, but I think he came too late in this process and that would be not fair for the other officials. Still not enough in order to see him in Brazil He can anyway still be content, of course, because EURO2016 is surely waiting for him.

    ReplyDelete
  8. 2/2

    So the last name it is in my opinion the most difficult to read, considering that
    you have proposed 10+1 in the UEFA list, I must insert him. Damir Skomina.
    There are many things to say. One thing is sure: after France-Ukraine, we know that Zunic will be out from WC, so the big problem for Skomina, in case of call (which of course I wish for him) will be the need to find another reliable assistant referee, supposedly from Slovenia. But at moment, now it seems impossible. I want anyway to give trust to the talented Slovenian official because, until a few months ago, it was impossible to think about him out of WC.
    Therefore, one can also expect to read his name with another assistant. Let's wait and we will see.
    So, my final prediction is (taking again into account also part 1):

    UEFA 10+1

    Rizzoli
    Brych
    Undiano Mallenco
    Webb
    Kuipers
    Cakir
    Proença
    Kassai
    Eriksson
    Skomina
    Reserve: Moen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I forgot to write that I consider Thomson and Kralovec clearly out.
      Thomson for the performance and the big mistakes of his assistants, Kralovec because it would be too early (I expect him at EURO2016).

      Delete
    2. Anonymous16/1/14 14:59

      7/10. Not good.

      Delete
  9. Very interesting situation happened today in serie A match Roma-Genoa.
    Referee: Calvarese, with Paolo Tagliavento as AAR1.
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/k5byOxHwXxy3Df5bdmT&start=823
    (the video should start from 57:15 just opening the link)
    Matuzalem (Genoa) is going to be substituted by a teammate. But something happens. Priot to leave the pitch, he makes gestures against the fans. The referee decides to book him (and this is the second YC) and so he is sent off.
    Calvarese at first forgets that the player was already booked. Recalled by players or somebody else, he shows the red. Nervertheless, that's not all. Of course, the substitution must be annulled because the player was clearly booked for his behavior on the pitch, prior to the leave. Indeed, I think that Calvarese is really confused at this point and he gets from Tagliavento (59:00) the exact proceeding to follow.
    Otherwise, it might have been a crucial mistake.
    At any rate, not the best management and two clear mistakes:
    1) giving the second YC without RC
    2) allowing the substitution

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Again, very good analisys except few points.
    In my opinion, the best Europian referee at the moment, Millorad Mazic is safe bet.
    He was only referee choosen from ED at pre-list, he whistled semi-final Fenerbahce-Benfice also from ED. He did it excellent.
    At the same level, Milorad was in play-off, Greece-Romania . There was no penalty moreover he whistled that match after Proenca's not briliiant first clash. In last twenty matches his peformances were good-very good. Only concerned referee out of 12 with such a pedigree.
    Yes he comes from a small country but it hasn't prevented him refereeing at top level so far.
    In analysis You forgot Ericson's performance in Schalke-Galatasaray which was unexceptable. But Jonas is safe bet. (Scandinavia)
    Lannoy is IMO 100% out, he had problem with injuries he failed Yo-Yo and he was without any significant apointment since EURO 2012.
    Kassai absolutely don't deserve to go to Brasil it should be Skomina but...
    Skomina will be"11th pig" from Europe.

    1. Mazic
    2. Kuipers
    3. Proenca
    4. Webb
    5. Rizzoli
    6. Mallenco
    7. Kassai
    8.Brych
    9. Ericsson
    10.Cakir
    11. Skomina

    Regards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Several issues with your analysis.

      The pre-list contained several ED referees at some points (among others, Strömbergsson and Chapron if I remember correctly). It is however true that he is the only referee remaining on the list who was ED when he entered.

      I disagree on your reading of the penalty incident, but these are opinions, we can discuss it but I cannot say you're wrong. Handballs are also contentious but UEFA's handling of Kassai's penalty in the 2012 SF and Kralovec's in the same year's group stage seems to indicate a tendency towards a penalty kick in these situations.

      I would say there are a few referees whose matches were at a higher level than Mazic's the past year or so (Kuipers, Eriksson and Webb come to mind). Even if they have had some so-so matches, the same could be said about Mazic in for example GER-AUT in front of Peter Mikkelsen.

      I fully agree he has not the substantial backing of a Committee member and has arrived in Elite Group absolutely on merit, but that could also be detrimental to his chances. Remember when the committee will meet, all members will have names they refuse to deselect. I don't think anyone there will have Mazic's name in their head for that purpose, so in a tight decision, he will always be in the underdog position.

      I take issue with your claim that Lannoy has been "without significant apointment (sic) since EURO 2012". There are a number of very significant matches to choose from, such as a CL quarter-final and three qualifiers which all were very important for the group standings (ISR-POR, BEL-SRB, DEN-ITA). The one appoinment I haven't mentioned is the appointment which you actually mention as one FOR Mazic. That's right, the semi-final Benfica-Fenerbahce. Second leg.

      I understand your doubts about Lannoy performance-wise and if his fitness is still not up to it (I didn't know that) I agree he has no chance. But I don't really like such statements which are manifestly untrue.

      My personal opinion about Mazic is close to the writer of the analysis'. I think he is a very good referee, who was put on the pre-list to gather as much international experience as possible in the (relatively) short time he has left on the international list. I feel Mazic doesn't have enough top-level experience yet for the World Cup as in he hasn't had time to make his mistakes and learn from them. He is too 'green' at the highest level to my mind, which does't mean he is not a good referee (to the contrary even - it was UEFA's mistake to wait so long before promoting him). Therefore, I think the main objective for the Serbian team has to be EURO 2016 and I fully expect Mr. Mazic to be there as one of the main referees.

      Delete
    2. Thomas I fully respect your attitude but here we are to exchange our personal (hope not political) feelings and attitudes.
      Let focus on facts.
      To start with Lannoy, all matches You've mentioned were important but not top clashes. No FIFA play-off what's most important in my opinion, in UEFA League seminal in Lisabon he was mostly out of control, appointments in CL this autumn, problems with injuries. I can't find any reliable argument to accept him in Brasil.
      Also You remembered us of Chapron and Strombergsson but that emphasised my words: where are they now?
      Regarding "not enough expirience": do you thing that Collina and Busacca would appoint unexpierenced referee for such important matches. Romania-Greece, 2ng leg is one of three biggest matches in play-off. couldn't be compared to Jordan-Uruguay or New Zealand-Mexico or Croatia-Iceland with that. Furthermore, he was appointed for 2nd leg not for the first match where's commonly less pressure.
      my prediciton is not only Mzic in Brasil, but also Mazic in one UEFA final this year.


      Delete
    3. As i said after the 2nd leg match and despite that Greece qualified that leg needed definitely a more experienced referee. Perhaps Busacca and Collina underestimated this duel or the could have overestimated Mazic's experience. You don't have to put a good referee constantly under pressure. I would like to see Mazic in Brazil but for me he can only go as FO/reserve.

      Delete
    4. @Edward: Perhaps they wanted to test Mazic in such a way that if he did well, he must go and if he did badly, they have arguments for not taking him á la Gräfe in the CL?

      @Profesor Taltomar: I will focus on facts if FIFA will focus on facts. We both know political choice is such a big part of the decision, and I feel Mazic will fall short at that level. Not in any way his fault but just the way I think it will be.

      I must admit, I didn't expect his name at Romania-Greece, but on the other hand, I didn't expect Gräfe at Juve-Real either. See my theory above. Also I feel the type of match is important for FIFA and UEFA. I don't want to generalise too much but my feeling Romania-Greece is a match with more tension than Ukraine-France, even though the football will be better and faster at the second match. Consequently, there are different types of referees for different types of matches. I would have liked to see Çakir at Greece-Romania and Proença at Ukraine-France instead. Of course impossible with Proença having handled Ukraine-England, but do you understand what I'm getting at? That might be a reason Mazic was appointed for this match and not, say Lannoy or Undiano.

      Just to emphasise: Mazic is not a bad referee. In fact I think he is a very good referee. However that is not the sole factor in the selection for the World Cup. I feel he lacks political backing and he has not yet had the time to compensate that with experience. I think that's what Niclas means with "a year to soon". If so, I agree with him fully..

      Delete
    5. I would like to keep it quite short as I am sure that you can imagine that I did not plan to spend some hours of work only for the usual Mazic-lobbying done at the blog. I am tired of the usual blames against Kassai, Lannoy etc. and in the end "Milorad" is always the best. This can be done at other websites. Of course, Prof Taltomar, I respect your opinion and see that you are arguing on some good grounds, but it is rather a general feeling that bothers me for a while, so don't take it personal please.
      You said we should focus on facts. At the same time, you refuse to accept that Mazic missed a penalty in his play-off. This is not consistent. In Istanbul he showed a very good performance (no excellent performance), his mark remarkably suffered from a wrong corner kick before Fenerbahce's goal. I don't want to go into detail, we said enough about this referee, who is surely very good, but who is also quite fresh at the peak of UEFA officiating.
      You are right about Eriksson. I found his performance in Schalke awful and believe he missed a clear penalty in Málaga as well. But this post targets at predictions and not my sympathies. UEFA appointed the Swedish for a CL quarterfinal and an EL semifinal despite his performance in Schalke. So it is very probable that they were content with the performance.
      We'll see FIFA's thought tomorrow or on Wednesday.

      Delete
    6. Niclas,
      who are we to looby for one referee? Virtual guests with no power, no impact, only words.
      It's not that mentioned refree is the best, it bothered me cause I felt that he was out not of the list for refereeing but for something else. Something else produces nothing good. Not only in football.
      Similar I followed for Skomina even he was not good in last few months. But overall he certainly deserves to go to Brasil.
      As I said in first sentence "very good analisys". So I realy didn't want to argue just to contribute to discussion.
      In two days we'll all know.
      Regards.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous13/1/14 16:25

      Profesor Taltomar, perhaps you can not know it, but be not too sure that the blog has no power. Some men in Switzerland feel very different, I can tell you. K.R.!

      Delete
    8. No problem, as I said, it was not meant against you.

      Delete
  12. Tireless work on this info Niclas. Are you paid full-time to do this?! ;)
    I would like to see Stark instead of Brych and someone else replace Lannoy.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My Personal Picks;

    1. Felix Brych
    2. Howard Webb
    3. Undiano Mallenco
    4. Nicola Rizzoli
    5. Pedro Proenca
    6. Viktor Kassai
    7. Cuneyt Cakir
    8. Jonas Eriksson
    9. Bjorn Kuipers
    10. Milorad Mazic
    ------------------------------
    +1. Svein Oddvar Moen

    Kralovec is out, because he is not ready enough and he has another 2 world cup chances ahead.
    Lannoy, is not good enough, already had a world cup. If he is selected. it is political to me.
    Skomina, he is not in his top form as he was in 2012-2013. He has chance for another world cup. Therefore I believe Mazic will be picked up over him. Next world cup I believe he will be a safe bet.
    Thomson, not good enough to be a world cup referee...
    Moen, is youngest of all UEFA pre-list referee will test the world cup this year as stand by referee and then most probably we will see him EURO 2016, 2018 World Cup and EURO 2020...


    ReplyDelete
  14. My personal choice would be
    Webb
    Brych
    Undiano
    Rizzoli
    Lannoy
    Kuipers
    Eriksson
    Proenca
    Kassai
    Mazic
    4th official: Skomina

    Reasons:
    Contrary to many others, I do not think Lannoy is only a political candidate, but a deserved and sensible choice, because of his experience. In my opininon, the possibility to collect hundreds of high level matches in your domestic league is quite important and a big advantage. So, the same counts for Undiano.
    Furthermore, I am quite impressed by Mazic' s performance, so he would be a fix candidate for me.
    This leaves only the possibility to be the reserve referee for Cakir , Skomina and Moen. All three would be good choices here, bu I prefer Skomina a bit.

    Nevertheless, I think, that the choice presented in the article is the most likely one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous16/1/14 15:00

      7/10: Not good, I think.

      Delete
  15. I think that the FA and Mike Riley must very,very worried.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous13/1/14 11:18

    The fact that Primoz Arhar and Marko Stancin (both 1968 born) left Skomina's Slovenian team due to their age, has certainly played a huge part in his team's recent failures. For small nations such as Slovenia, it is too difficult to replace two world cup assistant referees at the same time. Skomina's first assistant referee for WC, Matej Zunic was born in 1985, far too young and inexperienced for WC. The generation change of assistant referees in the Slovenian team is beyond Skomina's control, it will be very unlucky for him if he is not selected for the WC, because one to two years ago he was considered a sure candidate from UEFA for WC. Nowadays, WC officials are selected as a team, it has become increasingly crucial for referee to have reliable assistants. But at least he is still age eligible for WC in 2018.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Matej Zunic is 1983 born, not 1985.
      And I agree on fact that everything was caused by the retirement of Arhar and Stancin, a pity. They had to renounce to WC just for one year.

      Delete
  17. Oldest predicted official at 2014 World Cup:
    Darren CANN (England) DoB 22-01-1969
    Age at start WC: 45 years, 4 months, 21 days

    Youngest predicted official at 2014 World Cup:
    Rodney AQUINO (Paraguay) DoB 16-04-1984
    Age at start WC: 30 years, 1 month, 27 days

    A difference of 15 years...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, just about that, I think that one problem for Arias could be the age of his assistant referees. Especially Aquino: if you ask me, at any rate too young to join a so important tournament.
      I don't know how much they are experienced at CONMEBOL Elite level, anyway I would have liked to see older men accompanying him.

      Delete
    2. I disagree. Age is not correlated with quality.
      Of course you can argue that he is not experienced. But saying that per sé is wrong. For example György Ring has clearly shown that he is able to cope with football at the highest level and brilliantly assisted in the CL final being only 30...
      Keep in mind that FIFA is planning to radically decrease the average age of their World Cup officials in future. Soon we will be used to see such young officials more regularly if Sepp's ideas become reality.

      Delete
  18. Age is not correlated with quality, that's true. But experience is also an important skill for a referee at high level. Can you compare a referee who joins the WC for his first time ever, and a referee at his second or even third experience? I think that the experienced referees have less to learn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree to a certain extent. But in this specific case - are there other assistants available who do have that experience? Amarilla's assistants were too old for Arias this time, so there were no other AR's with WC experience for Arias to take. I do not know enough about Paraguayan assistant referees to accurately judge who is best (I even have trouble with the English ARs, just ask Nur!) but the FIFA list also indicates just one AR older than 30 on the list at the time of selection in 2010.

      Then again, you state there is a difference between (assistant) referees who have already experienced a World Cup and those who haven't. Don't you agree that it might be a good idea to take two young and talented AR's so they can accompany Paraguay's candidate (perhaps Mereles?) for 14 more years, building up more experience as the years go by? Experience has to be earned at some time, too.

      Delete
    2. FYI: Rodney Aquino is the son of Ubaldo Aquino, 2002 WC referee and current head of the Referees Committee of the Paraguayan FA...

      Delete
  19. Niclas

    Great analysis as always.
    I do see your workings with regards your selections and of course they are well argued and the rationale clear. Personally, I have used different criteria, keeping the politics to a minimum and so our lists differ slightly.

    As you know, I rate Skomina very high (he combines the qualities of Collina, Michel, Webb and others) and believe he is at the top of his game. I cant see how UEFA can leave this guy out, despite issues with the team and Zunic. In fact, I'd be as bold as to say he would be first on the list(?). I'd also like to see Mazic in ahead of the inconsistent Mallenco (and Carballo we should say), but as you say, this may be too soon for him.

    Rizzoli
    Brych
    Mallenco/Mazic
    Webb
    Kuipers
    Cakir
    Proença
    Kassai
    Eriksson
    Skomina
    Reserve: Mazic/Mallenco

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous16/1/14 15:02

      7,5/10 for the notorious Nikos.

      Delete
  20. Again great and detailed analysis, plenty of news and information.
    IMO it's a "crime" to keep Skomina ta home; I really appreciate his style and when I follow him I saw very high level perfomance, especially if we consider the whole path since 2010 to now. In other hand Lannoy will be only a political choice, so my guess / prediction is:
    Proenca Oliveira Alves Garcia
    Undiano mallenco
    Webb
    Eriksson
    Kuipers
    Brych
    Rizzoli
    Skomina
    Kassai
    Cakir
    Reserve: Moen

    Any rumors from today FIFA commetee meeting ? Somebody is out of the room in Zurich to listen what they are deciding ? :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many rumors but nothing concrete.

      Delete
  21. OFF topic: I have two questions for some expert of CAf and AFC"

    - I red the list of the officials appointed for the next orange national championship and nobody of the 7 FIFA WC preselected are in. Do you why ? Apart of Benouza, Camille and Lamptey, the are new and unknown names ?

    - Thanks for some clarification on Pozo on post related to Comnebol; do you have similar news about Al HILALI and BALIDEH ? I saw in the past months that they were appointed for important AFC matches but they aren't in the preselected list.
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. About CAF.

      The AFCON takes place next year (2015) in Morocco from 17/1 to 07/02.

      Delete
  22. Anonymous14/1/14 14:14

    I don't think that the tournament is the African Nations Cup, but another smaller championship. I think that the championship takes place next year. But I am not sure.

    /Swedish observer

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is not the African Cup of Nations but the African Nations Championship.
    It is played between the best national teams of Africa, exclusively featuring players who are active in the national championships and qualified to play in the ongoing season.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_African_Nations_Championship

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anyway, are there rumors from Zurich?
    I can't wait. Is it sure that they will published the names on the site today?
    Please give me an answer... :D

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anonymous14/1/14 15:19

    Rumours indicate 'politics' and Thomson is favoured by many. But we always have rumours

    ReplyDelete
  26. Anonymous14/1/14 19:53

    Rumours about Thomson are incredibiles.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous15/1/14 06:59

    Sometimes FIFA and UEFA referees' committees have different opinion about certain referees. Every world cup, there are always some unexpected referee names, at the same time, there are always some big names being left out. Hauge (Nor) in 2006 and Larsen (Den) in 2010 were two perfect examples.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anonymous15/1/14 07:17

    I would bet on the following eleven referees from UEFA, not sure about who is the reserve. Webb, Brych, Rizzoli, Mallenco, Cakir, Eriksson, Kassai, Kuipers, Moen, Proenca and Thomson. Even though some names are not according to my wish, in particular Skomina and Mazic are clearly better than a couple referees on my list IMO. However, I am aware FIFA rarely appoint more than one referee from eastern Europe for the world cup in the past.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Here the final list!

    http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/tournament/competition/02/26/13/55/2014fwcrefereesselected_neutral.pdf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Undiano out, Lannoy out, Kassai out and Mazic in.

      9 UEFA referees.

      CONCACAF gets 2 reserve (3+2).

      Delete
    2. No Garcia, no Argentinian, no Lannoy, no Kassai(!), no Undiano, no Skomina, no Arias
      Surprising

      Delete
    3. There is Pitana...

      Delete
    4. Oh, yes, you are right.
      Top sources, that knew, it is Abal...

      Delete
  30. BTW my first opinion is that UEFA selection is merely based on performance, especially in the 2013 year...

    ReplyDelete
  31. Anonymous15/1/14 09:38

    Wow, it seems to be a list without many politics; most decisions based on performamce principle (exception: spanish referee). Very good not to appoint Lannoy.
    For me, it is a pity and very sad not to appoint Kassai: i know - as niclas wrote- that he had a bad period and so based on performance principle it is acceptable. But IMO he has very special abilities that nearly no other ref has (You called it kassai phenomenon in euro12) and i think this ability to control a match with a big personality could be needed for certain clashes. Of course, other refs have a big personality too but Kassai is Special in this case. And saying the refs are Team no. 33 in World Cup, the coach busacca has to create a Team that is able to deal with each situation and concerning kassai's abilities i identify a little Gap there.
    Nevertheless, congrats to busacca having the courage to eliminate big names.

    Best regards
    Phil

    ReplyDelete
  32. Anonymous15/1/14 09:55

    Interesting selection - and politics seems to have played a minor role.

    /Swedish observer

    ReplyDelete
  33. Anonymous15/1/14 10:31

    It is clear FIFA has choosen the best referee teams, not just the best individual referees. I must stress that is the referee team. Kassai and Skomina were to some extent killed by their assistants. Nowadays, a good referee can not reach the WC on his own, he needs the support of two strong assistant referees as well.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Anonymous15/1/14 10:45

    As pointed out earlier, in the past, FIFA has rarely allowed more than one top UEFA referee from Eastern Europe in WC. History also shows, that one referee from Eastern Europe often had a very good WC, for example, Puhl (HUN) in 1994, then it came Michel (SVK) after 2000, it was Kassai's time to shine in 2010 WC. This time, Mazic is the lucky one, he might have a huge WC this time.

    ReplyDelete

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