December 15, 2015

Reaction to UEFA's Nominations: The 25th EURO Team is (partly) ready

On the tick of 12:00 CET, UEFA has announced the names of the referees who are going to attend UEFA EURO 2016 in France next June. Time for reviewing them.

Ready for departure and cleared for take off: Next stop Paris for 18 referees

Before going into detail, we want to tell all match officials chosen: Congratulations!


How many and which officials have been selected?

UEFA has nominated 18 referees.

- Martin Atkinson (England)
- Felix Brych (Germany)
- Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)
- Mark Clattenburg (England)
- William Collum (Scotland)
- Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)
- Ovidiu Alin Hategan (Romania)
- Sergei Karasev (Russia)
- Viktor Kassai (Hungary)
- Pavel Královec (Czech Republic)
- Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)
- Szymon Marciniak (Poland)
- Milorad Mažić (Serbia)
- Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway)
- Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
- Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
- Clément Turpin (France)
- Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain) 

For now, they only announced the main referees' names - their teammates will receive their call-up in February 2016 following courses for the assistant referees where, very likely, decisive fitness tests will have to be passed.

Nonetheless, I tried to guess some names based on the last months (and on ideas out of the blue). The assistant referees and additional assistant referee are only predictions! Check this link.

18 referees is a basically good number which allows enough flexibility: every official can handle two group stage matches, or can be easily compensated in case of an illness or an extremely weak performance in his first match.

Fourth Officials have not been appointed and I doubt that there will be any.

Positives and Negatives of UEFA's Nominations

Basically, most names were expected. Our wise community in fact predicted 17 of the 18 match officials: The 17 officials with the highest community votes are all going to France. Only no. 18, Gianluca Rocchi, has not been considered. Ovidiu Hategan of Romania, for whom only 13% of the community voted, completes the roster.

All Elite referees who dominated the peak of UEFA officiating in the last 3-4 seasons are included. Exceptions are Antonio Mateu Lahoz and Gianluca Rocchi, who probably suffered from stronger countrymen (Velasco and Rizzoli), but who also made too many crucial mistakes in the past. They have the chance to be nominated as AARs or to attend the Olympic Games in Rio.

Positives: 

1) UEFA apparently made great efforts to avoid two officials from the same nation (otherwise Rocchi had to be selected - there is actually no doubt that he is a more experienced and profiled referee than Hategan, Turpin or alike). There is one exception: England. And that's merely great! The often adjured performance principle has prevailed over technocratic and regional criteria. At least in this case.

2) The most positive surprises are Sergei Karasev and Szymon Marciniak, let's start with the Polish: A rising star in UEFA's referee panel, he has taken an immense development over the last two years. If someone deserved this call, then it was absolutely him - and on a higher level, he clearly mirrors another rising star among European football refereeing and that's Poland. Going through all other nations, I cannot find any other referee department or association whose progress in refereeing is that promising and obvious.  

Sergei Karasev's team is very dedicated and motivated, that's clear by watching their matches. If Karasev manages to show more consistency than in the past 1-2 seasons, he has great potential to reach the very top. EURO 2016 is a good start for him to gain valuable experiences with regard to his very possible World Cup participation when the football world's attention will turn on his mother country Russia.

3) The list is well-balanced: In theory UEFA has found a good mix of experienced, highly profiled referees on the one side, very reliable but still not that experienced Elite officials such as Collum or Královec on the other side and finally some really inexperienced and promising young men who are just at the start of their career at top-level.

4) Referring to point 3), Collina and co. have paid much attention to the drawing and fixtures. Approximately half of the matches actually do not demand the most experienced top 5 of European referees, but can be easily handled by someone like Collum or Marciniak.

Negatives: Several things disturb me and are - actually - not understandable:

1) High-performers have not been separated from low-performers. Sure, on-field-performances are not everything. For UEFA, also soft values such as personality (without any doubt extremely important), fitness level (body fat ratio etc.), commitment etc. count. 

For the average football enthusiast, performances are however most important. It is hard to understand why exactly Viktor Kassai has been chosen, while Aytekin, Mateu or Rocchi stay at home. This does not mean that he is a poor referee, a glance into his CV is enough to claim the opposite. BUT he is out of form from my point of view. It is quite easy to select all Elite referees who once handled top matches. If UEFA had really differed between the extremely distinct levels of quality in the officials' performances, the list would have looked differently.

2) Clément Turpin: His performance level has not been far away from catastrophical in the past. He has been given the wrong matches - they were not compatible with his progress in terms of personality and experience. This resulted in chaos, not only in M'gladbach-ManCity, but also and specially in Feyenoord-Roma. In some ways, I feel with him and hope he will be able to cope with the pressure put on his shoulders - a question crossing my mind is: Can he really be happy today?

But I do not want to lose too many exhausting words about this special case: He is a nice and great talent, but never a EURO referee, at least not if the competition had taken place in another country. If you were searching for the prototype example of political decisions in refereeing and referee recruitment: congratulations, you have found it tiday!

3) Ovidiu Alin Hategan: A talented referee, but I dare to say that he actually does not possess the most sophisticated personality skills. His performances were mostly good and solid, sometimes satisfying, never really bad. In his whole Champions League or let's say UEFA career, he handled exactly one top match: SL Benfica-Atlético Madrid, last week. Is that a real top match? 

Not really - both teams were already qualified before the kick-off whistle. But maybe this EURO list has to be read like that: UEFA did not have to choose top referees only. Matches like Slovakia-Wales or Ukraine-Northern Ireland can be refereed by officials like Hategan...which nonetheless leads me to the question: why exactly Hategan? Were Bebek or Sidiropoulos really worse? 

In a newspaper article published some months ago, Kyros Vassaras, UEFA referee committee member and referee manager in Romania's FA (you can have worse political conditions as a referee!), assessed Hategan's chances to join EURO 2016 as good as the one of Romania's national team at that point of time...and that team's chances were quite good back then.

In a nutshell:

A list with much light and some shadows. Overall, I think the committee has done a decent job. It could have looked much worse. But it could have been better as well - or at least less political and more performance-based. 

178 days are left until one of those 18 officials kicks of EURO 2016 - I can't wait for it.

20 Comments:

  1. Great read.

    Any news on whether Mike Mullarkey will retire...? Big blow for Atkinson if that it is the case.

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  2. Niclas, you and me had lot of debates here, and I didn't want to answer some of your replies, because I didn't want to argue more, mostly because I respect your work. We had different opinion about many questions, and I find that is good - everyone has his own head to think with it and to say what REALLY THINK, not what somebody else want to read at this blog.
    Now, I almost fully agree with your observation, especially with your observation about 10 days ago, when you predicted chances for the referees to attend Euro. You were 100% correct when you said that 13-14 refs deserve to be there. Reading your today's thouths about some suprisung names on the list (are they surprising?) you mentioned couple of times a crucial word: POLITICAL! Because, the names that I will mention here didn't deserve to be in Euro as main referees!
    Turpin - he also knows very well why is he here!
    Karasev - better referee for sur, but he found his place only because next World cup will take place in Russia, so this is the opportunity to prepare home ref for that event. That's the only reason he is on the list.
    Collum - key word Dallas! Collum is talented referee by no mean, but hos performance is Super cup, than in CL (mostly less important matches) didn't convince many people that he deserves his place. Would he be on the list, and would he'll be given Super cup if there wasn't Hugh Dallas?
    Hategan - key and the only word is Vassaras. He is good referee but far away from Euro at yhe moment.
    Kassai - if I could expect every referee mentioned above, for the reasons also mentioned, Kassai is maybe the biggest surprise. Did he deserved to be there by his performances not in last year or two, but in last 4 years at least? Absolutely not! Just look his marks from third team observers. In Leverkuzen-Roma he got 7.0, and he should be happy with that. Besides that match, many other were also below expectation. He simply shouldn't be on the list - that is clear.

    I really regret about Rocchi. I am surprised that Collina couldn't (or didn't want) find place for him, because he is much better referee than Turpin, Hategen, Kassai, Karasev, probably Kralovec (in many matches this year Kralovec got 7.9, which means he had quite often one crucial mistake), and Collum. The same is for Lahoz, maybe Aytekin.
    So, I am not happy with this list, because nomination of 4-5 refs is clearly political recision. Nevertheless, I wish the best luck to all selected referees and I hope that they are not going to have strong influence on results.
    Finally, congrats to Milorad Mazic (and his team, I believe), I think he fully deserve his place, and there was no doubt that he will be in France - sadly, he is the best what Serbian football has at the moment.

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  3. One more time I don,t understand Uefa decissions about refereeing. I think Collina and company are completely lost and Uefa needs a change in referee heading. It seems a sad joke that referees with less than ten matches in champions league and with very irregular performances in recent times have been choosen by Uefa instead of other ones. Everyone knows my opinion about Undiano Mallenco and I will not say nothing more about Uefa prejudices about him. I could say something similar about Rochi and Aytekin. But the worst thing is that I can,t understand how Uefa has been able to consider even the names of Turpin, Hategan or Karasev, referees without experience that don,t have done yet nothing to deserve such honour. Marciniak is better but also unexperienced and Kassai, Collum and Moen are absolutely overrated referees. Skomina is good but he seems to lose some motivation the last two years. Even Kuipers has been collecting several dissapointing performances since 2014. I am really happy by Atkinson choice, one of the best since last year. Other ñames like Clattenburg, Cakir, Rizzoli or Mazic are really deserved. I don,t like Kralovec, Brych and Eriksson style but It was clear he would be among the choosen ones. And finally, as Spanish, I am happy for Velasco -althought I don,t like either his refereeing style- but I must recognize he has recovered a good shape since worl cup disaster, especially in european matches. Finally, I only can say that my feeling about european refereeing since this morning is sadness.

    ReplyDelete
  4. A very good analysis, I try to add more now, making a comparison with the previous edition.
    First thing: were the fourth officials called at the last tournament a real hope for the future? Ruling out Shvetsov and Borski which were from the host countries, we have Hagen (NOR) and Královec (CZE). The answer is affirmative regarding the Czech, the same can't be said for the Norwegian, which decided to retire, he never became Elite referee.
    Then, about the referees called for the tournament, confirmed names are: Cakir (TUR), Eriksson (SWE), Kassai (HUN), Kuipers (NED), Rizzoli (ITA), Skomina (SVN), Velasco Carballo (ESP). 7 referees out of 18, which means a percentage of 39%.
    The countries with a "new name" are: Germany (2012 Stark / 2016 Brych), France (2012 Lannoy / 2016 Turpin), Scotland (2012 Thomson / 2016 Collum). A particular case is England with two referees replacing Webb: Atkinson and Clattenburg. The very remarkable thing is that Atkinson is even older than Webb (only a few months, but still...).
    After Proença's retirement, a quite important federation like Portugal has not managed to offer an option for this major tournament. Too early for Dias, too late (?) for De Sousa.
    Finally, we have three referees who already attended the 2012 tournament but only as additional assistant referees: Atkinson, Clattenburg and Collum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chefren,

      In Portugal, no succession in the elite is a consequence of Vitor Melo Pereira management. He is very partial in their management, emphasizing the referees that are part of your circle of friends (such as your personal trainer: Tiago Martins) and neglecting the referees of the northern country, as De Sousa and Soares Dias.

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  5. Predictions MD1 (4th in brackets)
    FRA-ROU: Mazic (Collum)
    ALB-SUI: Marciniak (Velasco)
    WAL-SVK: Hategan (Kassai)
    ENG-RUS: Rizzoli (Skomina)
    TUR-CRO: Clattenburg (Atkinson)
    POL-NIR: Kralovec (Jug)
    GER-UKR: Eriksson (Mazic)
    SPA-CZE: Collum (Kassai)
    IRL-SWE: Karasev (Turpin)
    BEL-ITA: Brych (Marciniak)
    AUT-HUN: Cakir (Kuipers)
    POR-ISL: Moen (Kralovec)

    The most difficult part is appointing the 4ths, even if some of the AARs are used on that position. Based on Niclas' team predictions, among the AARs only Rocchi, Orsato, Taylor, Oliver, Strömbergsson and Jug are experienced enough IMO. So there are five possibilities:
    1. UEFA nominates extra 4th officials (in February)
    2. UEFA chooses more experienced AARs
    3. UEFA accepts rather inexperienced AARs as 4th officials
    4. Assistant referees are used as 4th officials, then the inexperienced AARs would be the replacement referee in some teams, as it happens even in big CL matches.
    5. Officials are used in a higher frequency than in previous tournaments. The distances in France might allow that. This idea is implemented in my predictions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good points. I think your point 4) is most likely.
      I only want to touch on the opener game, although it is of course very early.
      The opening game usually sets the standard for the whole tournament in terms of refereeing, e.g. concerning the approach, interpretation of the Laws etc (and against that background the opener game performances at the last WC and EURO were failures).
      I do not think we'll see Mazic in it. Of course he is able to handle the game theoretically. But I rather expect someone like Eriksson (politically also a safer bet) or even Rizzoli.
      And to add one more thing: ESP-CZE needs a real top referee for my taste.

      Delete
    2. My predictions would be at the moment:
      FRA-ROU: Eriksson
      ALB-SUI: Skomina
      WAL-SVK: Kuipers
      ENG-RUS: Velasco
      TUR-CRO: Rizzoli
      POL-NIR: Kassai
      GER-UKR: Moen
      ESP-CZE: Atkinson
      IRL-SWE: Mazic
      BEL-ITA: Brych
      AUT-HUN: Karasev
      POR-ISL: Královec

      Delete
    3. Nice predictions, good work.
      I would go for:
      FRA-ROU: Mark Clattenburg (ENG)
      ALB-SUI: William Collum (SCO)
      WAL-SVK: Clement Turpin (FRA)
      ENG-RUS: Jonas Eriksson (SWE)
      TUR-CRO: Martin Atkinson (ENG)
      POL-NIR: Sergey Karasev (RUS)
      GER-UKR: Bjorn Kuipers (NED)
      ESP-CZE: Milorad Mazic (SRB)
      IRL-SWE: Viktor Kassai (HUN)
      BEL-ITA: Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR)
      AUT-HUN: Szymon Marciniak (POL)
      POR-ISL: Pavel Kralovec (CZE)

      The opener needs a top referee, however it will probably not be the most challenging match.
      The biggest matches in this round are in my opinion ENG-RUS, TUR-CRO, ESP-CZE and BEL-ITA. In my opinion the style of the referees appointed is suited to the expected match type.

      Delete
    4. By the way, Atkinson and Clattenburg will be in France with their usual ARs:
      http://www.premierleague.com/en-gb/news/news/2015-16/dec/151215-martin-atkinson-mark-clattenburg-named-as-euro-2016-referees.html

      Delete
    5. Mullarkey's 5th consecutive major tournament appearance. Quite the achievement!

      IIRC, he's also attend two Confed Cups as well...

      Delete
    6. Mike Malarkey... :D
      Yes, a more than great career. http://www.weltfussball.de/referee_summary/mike-mullarkey/1/2/

      Delete
    7. I would assume that UEFA inquired into Mullarkey's intentions quite some time ago. Had he announced his intention to retire, I would think that they would have removed him from Atkinson's team at the beginning of the season (or removed Atkinson altogether!). So I have little doubt that he will be in France.

      Delete
    8. Solid point, Emil.

      Delete
  6. The same counts to Yuste Jiménez and he is still young

    ReplyDelete
  7. Predictions MD1
    FRA-ROU: BRYCH
    ALB-SUI: COLLUM
    WAL-SVK: MOEN
    ENG-RUS: RIZZOLI
    TUR-CRO: VELASCO CARBALLO
    POL-NIR: ERIKSSON
    GER-UKR: SKOMINA
    SPA-CZE: CLATTEMBURG
    IRL-SWE: TURPIN
    BEL-ITA: KASSAI
    AUT-HUN: KRALOVEC)
    POR-ISL: KARASEV

    What do you think ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brych would be my choice for the opener too.
      Velasco Carballo is not possible for TUR-CRO (Spain in the same group).
      Kassai for BEL-ITA is in my opinion a brave choice.

      Delete
    2. Crucial mistake on Velasco Carballo; I swap with Skomina

      Delete
  8. OT : François Letexier, young and promising referee is promoted to french Ligue 1 at 26 years after only 1,5 years in third and second divisions ! Surely a very interesting profile for french refereeing department

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw him live this year in Metz-Clermont, he was quite impressive. Honestly, I didn't think that he would make it THAT fast into Ligue 1.

      Delete

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