December 15, 2016

Referee Advent Calendar - Door 15: And the Video Assistant Refereeing Confusion goes on

In today's FIFA Club World Cup Semifinal between America and Real Madrid, Video Assistant Refereeing was again deployed following yesterday's penalty award by Viktor Kassai. Paraguayan Enrique Cacéres was involved as the main referee with in the following situation.


video by Law-11.com

(Admittedly Leading) Questions:

1) Did the Video Assistant Refereeing input make anything clearer on the field of play?

2) Was this a situation where Video Assistant Referees should have intervened? Or in clearer words: Why the hell did they intervene in a situation which should be ultimately clear to AR2?

3) Was a competent Assistant Referee - in the sense of "competent about offside" - part of the Video Assistant Refereeing team behind the scenes? (same goes for yesterday's situation)

4) With all understanding for this experiment being in a learning process - is not this situation simply ridiculous and seriously undermining the referee's authority?

5) Were the Laws of the Game violated? The referee actually may not change his decision (offside) once play has been re-started (America started a counterattack, the ball was in play). 

22 Comments:

  1. Not to mention that the resolution was actually illegal. The referee allowed play to restart, and then went back on his decision? Once play has restarted (and been allowed to), the referee cannot go back. And he signalled offside, so play was allowed to restart (I don't see him asking them to wait for a whistle).
    It is, of course, devastating for the ARs. Why even bother having them if there will be a parachuting VAR?

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    1. Thanks for the good point Emil, I have added it, even though I believe it is acceptable as long as the decision made by the referee resulted from an error in communication, e.g. the referee understood OFFSIDE via micro but did not hear the NO in front of OFFSIDE = NO OFFSIDE. In this case, the decision based on facts would change as the facts were wrongly understood by the referee, I think.

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    2. This is at the upper limit of when a referee could 'credibly' annul the restart and pretend it didn't happen, but this cannot become a trend. I see two cases possible:
      a- Referee wanted to wait for more info from VAR (or misunderstood VAR), players put ball in play. Decision to call play back acceptable (although poorly communicated).
      b- VAR told referee 'hold on, I'm not sure' after the ball was kicked. Under the laws of the game, calling play back in this case is illegal.

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    3. I also remind on what the VAR programme was originally thought for: For incidents happening in the back of the referee which could not be spotted by any official. Where are we now? An onside decision every 3rd division official is expected to get right is overruled by 3 FIFA referees who have video replays available. This is simply too funny and actually too sad as well.

      I well remember Monsieur Platini once saying sth like "if we allow goalline technology to be used, we might one day get video replays. where do we start, where do we end?" I have to say, in that point he seems to be right. But of course one should accept the reality that the VAR is inevitable, it will definitely come in future.

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    4. Case a seems unlikely, because Caceres did not stop play immediately, but tried to follow the game for some seconds before stopping it again.



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    5. @Philippe
      VIdeo is now private, so I can't re-watch it, but that was my impression too. In which case returning to the play under review was against the LOTG. But I get a sense from the IFAB in the past few years that the Laws don't really matter that much anymore anyway, so...

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  2. This time I'm really disappointed. Today there wasn't any need to use the VAR for this easy situation. Only in case of "clear" mistake by AR, VAR had to inform the referee. I'm starting to think that FIFA wants just to present this VAR as excellence by showing that this system can check everything and it is reliable. Unluckily for them, today there was this mess, very likely caused by communication problems. One could still say it was a test, yes, but I repeat myself: this wasn't a situation in which to use it.
    Today no official statement by FIFA: I guess they don't know what to write to explain what happened :)

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  3. VAR officials for today's game were: Cunha (URU), Geiger (USA), Irmatov (UZB).

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  4. Busacca gave an interview in a Spanish radio and explained that it was the own assistant Zorrilla that requested the revision of the goal, because he was in doubt.

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    1. Well then, isn't every assistant referee ever now going to request a review? How often is one, as an assistant, 100% certain about an offside (except for the very obvious ones)? Won't it be tempting, even if one is 98% certain of one's decision, to just call up the VAR, because 'why not'? If your call was right, then no harm's done, and if your call was wrong, you just avoided a crucial mistake. Won't it be tempting for ARs, when in doubt (however marginal the doubt), to play on and let the VAR sort it out if need be? Yes, ARs have an honour and pride in making correct but difficult calls, but they are also under immense pressure from evaluations et. al.

      I'm with Chefren and Niclas on this one: the AR should have been able to judge this. It's not easy, but the conditions were good (proximity of attacker and defender, no other players in the line of sight), so he should have been able to make it by himself. To call the VAR in indicates either a failure by the AR, or a changing mentality ('I'm not going to risk making an error when the video guy can solve it for me'). In both cases, it's not good.

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  5. An info about the UEFA Winter Course, it will be from 29/01/17 to 02/02/17 in Málaga, as reported.
    Spanish participants:
    Introductory Course
    - José María Sánchez Martínez
    - María Dolores Martínez Madrona
    (New FIFA referees)

    Advanced Course:
    - Carlos Del Cerro Grande
    - Javier Estrada Fernández
    - David Fernández Borbalán
    - Jesús Gil Manzano
    - Antonio Mateu Lahoz
    - Alberto Undiano Mallenco

    Very interesting to read that Del Cerro Grande will be there. So we have the confirmation that some referees from Category 2 have been called. True that the course will take place in Spain and perhaps this favoured Del Cerro's participation, but I think this call was surely planned by committee.

    Source:
    http://www.rfef-cta.com/Noticias/VerNoticia.aspx?id=770

    Hopefully other federations and/or referees associations will inform us about the referees called by UEFA.

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  6. Busacca has just announced to SKY Sport Italy that Sikazwe (ZAM) will handle the final. A very important step for CAF.
    VAR: Makkelie (NED), Skomina (SVN), Gassama (GAM).

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    1. And yes, he confirmed what was already reported by Joaquin Jordan in the previous post: it was AR2 to call the help of VAR because "it was a very difficult and borderline situation" and he wanted to be sure. Then, there were communication problems with the trio.
      In addition, he apologized for the confusion in yesterday's game, but he said that we should remember it is only a test.

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    2. So the logical consequence would be: The AR does not need to ask the VAR, but every critical offside situation is checked by the VAR anyways. If the AR's decision was wrong, he informs the referee, if the AR was right, no communication is needed.

      With the VAR, it is furthermore important, that the AR raises his flag only, when he has no or very little doubt, because it is easier to award an free kick afterwards than restoring a big chance or a goal.

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    3. I agree with you, of course. Based on what happened yesterday this should be the first thing to do: officials shouldn't ask VAR for a confirmation, but the latter should only intervene when needed. It is so clear...

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  7. Nawaf Shukralla with third place final, so the duo from OFC was there as reserve.
    But we can't know whether this choice was made after the removal of Fijian AR from the list of called officials.

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    1. They were not called as a reserve. Busacca and his commission had planned the final for Shukralla, but Atl. National lost and ended up hurting the planning So, not to leave him with only the 5th place (equal to 2012, which would be very unfair), and also for being in the end be a Latin confrontation. They decided to leave the Tahiti duo without a game. In the end it was mismanagement of designations by FIFA.

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    2. Zitouni could have done 5th place, but opted for Shukralla so that he did not reach the final without a previous match. But the plans went awry, and Zitouni paid for the planning error.

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  8. Another thing I noticed: every assistant referee knows that if there is a doubt on a goal, you stand still. An AR sprinting towards the centre means 'goal is valid'; an AR jogging towards the centre (as in this case) normally means 'goal is valid and I can't be bothered to sprint'. So why did the AR run towards centre if he wasn't certain? Stand still, referee might come over, and then you can resolve it calmly.

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  9. It's obvious that many comments here are based on speculations, rather then on facts. To criticise the VAR and the way they handle, we must know the entire protocol. FIFA has explained on their official website (FIFA Quality Programme) how it works and when VAR's are used. They will always check goals, penalty decisions, red card incidents and mistaken identity. The role of the VAR is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made concerning this four topics. It is said that it was a misunderstanding (communication issue) during the offside case with Ronaldo. Perhaps we can also take the language difficulties between the referee and VAR into consideration? I am convinced that the VAR project will succeed, however it needs time to develop. I can imagine that the pressure on the VAR'S can be extremely high when they have to analyse (difficult) situations based on finding the best angle of view, under time pressure, while play continues. As we know it's a trial, so give it a chance in order to develop and achieve progress for the future. What can we learn from experiences without any mistakes/issues? Also for the referees on the field it must be totally new and unaccustomed. I am sure that FIFA, IFAB and all other country's who are testing the VAR will do it on an very thoughtful and well prepared manner.

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    1. Of course we'll have to give it a chance. I simply won't get used to referee departments who shout for video replays that are allegedly so necessary noradays instead of starting to select the right referees for the right games. Look at Busacca's appointments at the last major tournaments (I mean both the invitations to tournaments and the match designations) and you'll easily see that one could first try to optimize referee selection and development and THEN making use of video replays for relatively clear situations.

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  10. Very poor handling of their referee crews once again by the high and mightiest at FIFA. Zitouni from a tiny confederation, invited to his first major tournament. And what happens to the poor guy and his crew? They simply get "screwed" out of working a single match. Basically, "Thank you for coming, but we don't need your services". What does something like this do to his confidence? It shatters it, that's what it does. Again, Busacca and FIFA embarrass themselves.

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