February 22, 2016

Felix Zwayer's Match Suspension: An Absolutely Overdue Signal

Incredible, historical and an absolutely overdue signal: As most of you have probably already seen, German Bundesliga and UEFA First Group Referee Felix Zwayer of Berlin decided to suspend Sunday's top match between Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund for nine minutes - because Leverkusen's coach Roger Schmidt refused to be sent off onto the seats. 

Check this video (click on the pic):

http://screengrabber.deadspin.com/referee-gets-fed-up-walks-off-in-middle-of-bayer-lever-1760416708


What happened?

Minute 64: A Dortmund player was clearly fouled in the midfield. Zwayer correctly awarded a free-kick. Dortmund made a quick free-kick whose position was 5,8m away from where the offence had occurred. From this quickly taken free-kick, Dortmund's Aubameyang scored the only goal of the evening.

Minute 65: Protests emerged. Some players protested - according to some Dortmund players -, because they thought the ball had not been stationary. Most likely they criticized the wrong free-kick position though. Leverkusen coach Schmidt protested too much and was therefore sent off to the seats - having already been warned by the fourth official earlier in the game. 

Minute 66: Schmidt continuously ignored to leave the technical area.

Minute 67: Zwayer asked the captain, Stefan Kießling - the scorer of Felix Brych's legendary ghost goal - to make his coach leave the technical area as kind of very last warning. Reading Zwayer's lips, he already indicated that otherwise he would have to halt the game. As Schmidt still did not want to go off, Zwayer ordered the teams to leave the pitch. Play was re-started 9 minutes later.
Technical Aspects

First, the free-kick decision was absolutely correct. The Laws of the Game and UEFA's practical information for match officials actually prescribe that direct free-kicks - and even quick free-kicks - have to be taken from where the offence occurred. Of course nobody knows the exact moment as the human eye is not finetuned that much in such situations. Allowing some metres deviance is surely justifiable given a) common sense (a quick counterattack was prevented, so that the non-offending team should profit from a quick execution of the free-kick) and b) a certain margin of discretion which the referee has. For my taste, 5,8m is definitely borderline, but understandable. Everybody who once has stepped on a football field knows best that estimating distances depends on the visual angle you have - from the TV or the sideline, 6 metres look more dramatically than from Zwayer's position.

Suspending the match is clearly in line with what the Laws and guidelines prescribe: If a player or team official refuses to leave the field of play or technical area having been sent off by the referee, play has to be suspended and the referee has to threaten the liable team with abandoning the match.

So, was Zwayer's decision fully right?

In my view: Yes. Allowing the free-kick as it was executed is justifiable or at least defendable for the reasons given above. Most people critizing Zwayer for his decision focussed on another point: He should have walked out to the coach and explained him a) his decision and b) why he has sent him off to the seats.

Some remarks on that:

1. It is the referee's good right to choose how he communicates with players or team officials who have been sent off. Like you do not have to justify yourself for a red card that was just issued, you do not have to explain the decision to send a coach off. If a coach is in a rage, you can try to calm him down. But you don't have to. In such cases, it is common praxis that the team captain functions as a medium between the referee and team officials.

2. What Roger Schmidt did was nothing but challenging the referee. Checking who has the bigger balls - or in less vulgar words - who has more pull. 

a) Having immediately shaken his head after he was ordered to the tribune with a hand signal, Schmidt exactly knew what he was doing. The assistant referee even told him something like "Don't make it worse than it already is!".

b) Like a disappointed child, he ordered Zwayer to come to him, making gestures like "you should come to me!" If you, as a referee, react to THAT, you can better directly throw your authority in the dustbin.

c) Schmidt's co-coach even told him "come on, leave it..." - Schmidt denied that. 

d) Kießling definitely informed him about what Zwayer said. He must have told him "otherwise he suspends the match" - reading Schmidt's lips, he said "He should do that...!". I am pretty sure that Schmidt did not expect that Zwayer stands by his promises...

Conclusion

In my opinion, Felix Zwayer cannot be praised much enough for his decision for different reasons. There is only one thing that can be maybe criticized: Ideally, he could have directly walked out to him. Immediately after the goal, after the very first protests. Like someone to whom I spoke correctly pointed out, sending someone off from much distance is "no premium solution" - Manuel Mejuto González knows that best. I however can understand why he did not do it. As soon as Schmidt tried to gain the upper hand by his "come here"-gestures, Zwayer had no other choice - he had to stay where he is.

What the world of football witnessed yesterday was a very necessary signal. Coaches turn respectless more and more. It has been the literal low point of a long trend observable during the past seasons. I think I don't have to remind you on situations like that

The behaviour shown by some coaches like all those 'special ones' during and after the match would be described as choleric by most people and as psychopathic or narcisstic by most psychologists.

The big problem is that the behaviour at the very top - by players like Neymar diving more than playing football, by coaches behaving as Schmidt has behaved - one-to-one reaches the grassroot level at the next weekend.

Zwayer's decision, courage and determined body language is, from my point of view, nothing but a strongly needed support for hundred of thousands amateur referees keeping this sport alive every week and a very needed and overdue signal sending pictures that are going around the world. He has done something good for us referees and our authority, even though he very likely did not realize it in that moment.

51 Comments:

  1. I absolutely agree with your explication, Niclas. This decision was really important for all referees, Zwayer must be praised for taking this decision.
    Short remark: What AR1 Robert Schröder exactly said to Schmidt: 'Don't make it worse than it already is.'

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  2. Absolutely well written Niclas, I think that the most interesting point to discuss is indeed the fact that Zwayer could have (very likely) avoided this situation by talking directly to the coach. He did the gesture to Schmidt from a quite far distance. Then he decided to be "formal", calling the captain for communicating. Not wrong, but one can have different views on that. Very often the coaches and all other team officials are too arrogant, they don't want to accept referee's decisions and this was, in a certain way, a very good lesson given.

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    1. I think it's important to know that Zwayer already cautioned Schmidt in the first half when he was furious about a throwin/freekick(?) decision close to his coaching zone. If you already warned him personally earlier and he still doesn't change his behaviour, it's quite understandable to choose the formal procedure with the captain over running out there a second time. The coach already had his face-to-face conversation.

      http://www.zeit.de/sport/2016-02/zwayer-schmidt/bitblt-820x461-a3e51d71c8dda868e84c15b7e77b675bec3f935b/wide

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    2. Ah, OK. It's a different story then. Thanks!

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    3. If I find time, I might also upload a video interview with Zwayer with English subs. He also underlined that he really did not find it suitable to look for proximity to the coach in this heated mood / situation. I can fully understand that and even more against the background of what Kaer said (but even if not, it would be understandable, indeed one can discuss about it though).

      BTW In general, if I showed this video clip to young referees, I would definitely use it as an example of firmness and determination. I did not see a referee who was coward (otherwise you would not suspend such a game for such a reason, only brave referees do that).

      By the way the story went on after the match of course. Schmidt admitted that he maybe was a bit too stubborn. (emphasis on "maybe"). Then he said that this seemed to have an influence on the referee later for missing a clear penalty. Völler, Bayer's director, did the same as well and questioned Zwayer's neutrality. Background: a clear handball penalty missed (obstructed for Zwayer - he cannot look through bodies, visible for AR2 Achmüller who missed it).

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  3. From my point of view, talking to the coach as normally referees do and explaining the sending off would be more mature and widely expected referee's acting in this situation. In this particular situation, it looked like the referee is a) arrogant, b) coward. More personality should be used from the beginning to calm the atmosphere down and avoid such a show. Of course, the referee should do what he did if the coach was still unconvinced and refuse the sending off. But I really think it could have been easily avoided...

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  4. Schmidt is banned for 3 matches (+2 on parole until 30.6.2017).
    Völler is fined with 10.000€.

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    Replies
    1. And Schmidt is also fined €20.000 (at least, that's what was on the Dutch news).

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    2. @Jan: You're right.

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  5. I agree. A referee with strong personality would have spoken with the coach in a calm and respectful manner. Explaining him shortly your decision and asks him to leave the field of play immediately. If the coach doesn't follow your instructions then tell what the consequences are and that he will be responsible for suspending the match temporarily. Now Zwayer made a nervous and hesitating impression. From a distance pointing and using the captain several times shows a lack of courage. Ofcourse I know this situation is unusual but I think he could avoid this escalating with better management. I my opinion he lost control. And walking of the pitch like he did without his team mates.. is also not really strong. So the signal to leave the pitch in case of such misbehaviour of coaches: yes, nothing wrong with this. But, could he avoid this problems with better management: yes! Zwayer is too soft in his presence.

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    1. Zwayer is actually one of the strongest personalities we have in Bundesliga, so to be honest I do not like those radical criteria (a brave referee would, a referee with strong personality would...etc.). I think somehow both views on his procedure and decision are legitimate, there are arguments for both (good point regarding his teammates btw).

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  6. OT news from Italy: Rizzoli and Cariolato are both back from their injuries. In detail, Rizzoli appointed as AAR2 in Juventus-Inter on Sunday, Cariolato as AR1 in another match.

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  7. Hello!
    Is it possible to get the newest UEFA videos, download from the WEB?

    Thank you..

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  8. What Infantino election means for UEFA and FIFA refereeing?

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    1. Hopefully it will mean sth for FIFA refereeing and the responsible persons.

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    2. I would like to believe...
      Busacca - Switzerland
      Infantino - Switzerland

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    3. Well I know more countrymen whom I cannot stand than foreign people.. we'll see.

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  9. Poland. Two matches, the same referee (Daniel Stefański, FIFA). Both situations are deemed as not enough for a DOGSO by UEFA refeee observer and Polish head of refereeing, Zbigniew Przesmycki...

    https://vid.me/0p8V
    https://vid.me/3Gy3

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    1. Well, in the first situation I can back the YC, given the presence of another defender (#51 from blue team).
      In the second case I must say for me clear RC for DOGSO...

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    2. Uau, I honestly think they are both DOGSO, specially the second one. In the first situation, at the moment of contact, the closest defender is outside of goal range (as we can see in the last replay). What were the arguments to deem them both as not DOGSO?

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    3. Regarding the first situation, it's the reasoning:
      There is a big likelihood of gaining the control of the ball for the attacker. However, given the present of another defender, the attacker has only one option - to shot. The GK is ready to intervene. Therefore, it's not enough to state that the attacker fully controls the ball. It would be a full control if the attacker was more in front of the goal and had a choice between taking a shot or outplaying the goalkeeper.

      Regarding the second situation, I know same statement that it was not DOGSO. Reasoning will be probably published in next days.

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    4. In my opinion both DOGSO.

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    5. Both are undeniable, clear cases of DOGSO.
      For the 1st clip, there is even a precedence case: Turpin's RC in Ludogorets-Valencia, included in a UEFA RAP some seasons ago.

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    6. Second situation:
      "Had the attacker ran into the penalty area with the ball, the referee had had no choice but to send the defender off (full control of the ball, he can do with the ball whatever he wants - to shot in the left, in the right goal corner or to try outplaying the GK). I am not sure whether the attacker would have controlled the ball with ease. The GK is going for the ball/attacker and it's possible that his intervention would have been good enough to stop the attacker before doing whatever he wants. Those are the arguments against DOGSO. I am not a fan of giving red cards when I have doubts. Obvious must be obvious." - Zbigniew Przesmycki

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  10. UEFA promised to give all information about referees for UEFA EURO 2016 at February!
    Tomorrow is the last day?
    Can we expact full list tomorrow?

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    1. You said it right, tomorrow is the last day, so hopefully we will have full teams. Perhaps for some reasons, committee needed more time than expected.

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  11. please opinion about these situations
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UahBn6XdpiA

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    1. 1) Play-on is a very mature and brave decision. Attacker is looking for a contact.
      2) Attacking player is pushed with both hands. Correct free kick, well applied wait-and-see technique.
      3) Crucial mistake of AR1.

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    2. I agree, especially in the first situation for me it is clear that the attacker goes deliberately towards the defender to get a penalty. It is true that the defender does nothing to avoid the contact, but one can absolutely back the referee.

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    3. 1) Clear PK/YC (promising attack).
      2) On clip we do not see clearly what happened but probably it was foul. Whistle is delayed and it would be much more convincing if he had whistled 2 sec earlier.
      3) Agree with Ref1.
      3)

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    4. Only on 1): Clear simulation. Play-on is a poor compromise. As the attacker clearly starts to fall before any contact and would have fallen without contact, this is a YC for simulation and -0.1.

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    5. 1)Never PK. I would be more happy if the ref awarded YC for simulation.
      2)There was a foul on attacker.
      3)Difficult, but wrong decision.

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    6. One of the biggest derby matches in the world, with big tension (even Red Star was 29 poibts ahead). Immediately after the match Partizan wrote statement accusing referee Glodjovic that he was "the man with bad intentions". As you said here, referee was correct not to give PK (clear diving), but missed YC. Also, foul for RS (the goal was scored from the free kick) existed, there was pushing from behind. AR1 decision was incorrect, but it was really not easy to see, because one attacker was deep offside, and scorer was moving fast. Glodjovic made some other mistakes - didn't send off Partizan couch for dissent and unsporting behavior, missed some YCs (some of them would be second for the players), but it was very, very challenging match, the match had been stopped four times because of pyrotechnics and smoke that was all over the pitch... Glodjovic is Serbian no.2 ref, but most of people wonder why Mazic didn't get this "eternal derby", as he did last nine times in a row! And this was 150. derby, so everyone expected Mazic, especially because he needs strong matches before CL clashes.

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    7. Gentlemen,
      Referee Commission FSS has confirmed your opinion about the situation number 1. However, the FSS chipped shot and sought the opinion of UEFA Ref's Committee. UEFA replied- PK+YC.
      Greetings!

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  12. Another huge discussion on this incident. We have two camps:
    1) natural movements, won position, play-on
    2) defender is aware of present of attacker, so his behaviour is at least reckless

    https://vid.me/PbC1

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    1. I am in the second camp. I think the defender could have prevented contact and definitely could have prevented contact to the head of his opponent.

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  13. Interesting situations from Hungary
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWJ7Llixi_g 1:48 YC or RC 2:35 goal or not?

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    1. 1) For me DOGSO, he was moving away from the goal, but the angle was still very good enough to easily score a goal in the next moment. On the other hand - at least that's what is taught here - goalkeepers can escape such situations with a YC if they tried to play the ball in such 1v1 scenarios. But for me much more DOGSO.

      2) Normal collision, no foul.

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    2. 1) PK/RC(DOGSO)
      2) Foul on GK.

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  14. The Hungarian team in Euro 2016
    Viktor Kassai
    György Ring- Vencel Tóth
    Tamás Bognár (First Gropup) - Ádám Farkas (Third Group)
    István Albert( Vad's AR)

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    1. So everybody with his own 4th official?

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    2. According to Dutch KNVB Team Kuipers will be complete:
      Kuipers, Van Roekel, Zeinstra, Van Boekel, Liesveld and Mario Diks as standby AR. No mention of an own 4th official.
      link in dutch: http://www.knvb.nl/nieuws/scheidsrechters/scheidsrechters/16905/team-kuipers-compleet-naar-euro-2016

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  15. Skomina team also consist of 6 ones:
    http://www.nzs.si/novice/2016-02-29-Dolocene-celotne-sodniske-ekipe-za-EURO-v-Franciji

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  16. Collum's team:
    http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_fa_news.cfm?page=1957&newsCategoryID=2&newsID=15997

    You can read: "UEFA will appoint the Fourth Official for each match at the tournament from the pool of officials there."

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  17. French Team :
    Clément Turpin
    Frédéric Cano - Nicolas Danos (assistants)
    Benoit Bastien and Fredy Fautrel (additionnal refs)
    Reserve assistant referee : Cyril Gringore (Buquet assistant).

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  18. Moen's full team:
    http://www.fotball.no/Utdanning-og-kompetanse/Dommer/Toppdommer/2016/Norske-assistentdommere-til-EM/

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