October 18, 2012

AFC officials must step into the breach in Oceanian Qualifiers

Oceania Football Confederation bosses have moved quickly to ensure there will be no repeat of the nasty incidents which marred the New Zealand’s 3-0 win over Tahiti in Christchurch on Tuesday night.
It was always planned that referees from the Asian Confederation would control the last games in the World Cup qualifiers but that will now be brought forward to the penultimate round as well, in which New Zealand will host New Caledonia - at a venue yet to be decided - in what shapes as the crucial match of the four-team Oceania play-off. The All Whites have a perfect four-from-four record heading into the game with New Caledonia, who sit three points behind New Zealand and need to win to keep their hopes alive.

OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas said yesterday that it had always been planned for the referees to exchange, but reports from Tahiti (for New Zealand's away game on Saturday) and what was seen in Christchurch had forced their hand. "We have to find the best available officials who must be totally neutral," said Nicholas. "In Oceania we have two trios [referee plus two assistants] who have been involved at FIFA tournaments, but one of these is from Tahiti, the other from New Zealand." Tahitian Norbert Hauata and New Zealand's Peter O'Leary, along with their assistants, are regarded as Oceania's best, but with them ruled out for games involving their two countries, the OFC referees' panel appointed Bruce George (Vanuatu) and Solomon Islander Gerald Oiaka (photo) for the two matches. Both found the step up beyond them and struggled with some decisions, leading to frustration for players and coaches. Oiaka raised the ire of the New Zealand camp with his handling of the match, particularly the incidents at the end of play and especially from Tahitian captain Nicholas Vallar, who was booked after 24 minutes for a crude challenge on man of the match Michael McGlinchey. Given his play after that, Oiaka had plenty of reasons to hand him a second yellow, and then a red, but chose to ignore his disgraceful antics. "We are disappointed we have not got more officials up to speed," said Nicholas. "Thankfully, we have time to get it right."


  1. An astonishing honesty. I never came across a federation that publicly utters a lack of trust in their officials.

  2. They can't rely just on O'Leary and Hauata, they have anyway their faults, if you remember also the case of Cross, a FIFA referee can't be so fat, sorry, I have to be honest.
    Probably they haven't the will to develop refereeing.
    It would be a wrong thing to appoint Asian officials, AFC is not OFC.

    1. How can they develop refereeing when their football over their is at least amateur?

      So the problem is natural. You can't have good referees (at least for World Cup matches) when you have amateur teams.

      IMO this decision is completely wrong. They should use Hauata and O' Leary at least for MD 5 and if New Zealand wins and qualifies they can use 2 other referees for the final Matchday.

    2. I don't like this, but I will get to that later. Edward, I say similar things to MLS fans all the time(though we are talking World Cup not local league). They expect the referee level to be that of top European officials because that is what they watch on TV. They do not realize that MLS is a huge step up from every other league in the US and Canada(apart from the fact that some don't know anything about the sport, refereeing, or feel entitled).
      Its not just fans There is not one game where coaches, players, and fans call for the MLS to 'get new referees' or for the USSF to 'train their referees better'. One coach at halftime yesterday said (paraphrasing)'they already have their 12th man, the referee'.
      This is because MLS is constantly in the ears of referees and players from the beginning. Last year they told the players and coaches that they will be working to improve officiating in the league by making them pros, hiring Peter Walton, etc. Further, a disciplinary committee to suspend players after the fact even if a foul is not a card during live play(which can be good, but some have been ridiculous). It is very public and undermines the referees authority. Players and coaches no longer respect referees(and it is clear). These referees in the OFC will never get the same respect or authority for anymore games they may referee...

      Referees in OFC, MLS, CONCACAF if you like are not going to be world class because they don't have experience with that level. Like the game itself as the it progresses so will the officiating.

  3. Of course, we cannot expect the same level of refereeing from every confederation, although we as Europeans must be honest enough to recognize that Hester was not weaker than many of "our" UEFA officials.
    It is clear that we cannot expect from a Solomon Islands official to be on top level being able to control every game, interpret the Laws of the Games in a way as good as possible. But Mr Nicolas has contacts to FIFA, obviously to AFC as well. AFC offers talent programs for their officials (like the future program), they have u16 AFC Cups. He could pull his strings and arrange that perhaps one trio each year from OFC may participate in that. Or the other opportunity, OFC should perhaps make the same step as the Australian federation.

    1. I agree.
      AFC has a very important plan of refereeing deveopment.
      Here you can read more:
      International referees from "minor" countries like Maldives, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and so on, have many opportunities to grow up and form themselves in tournaments like under 16, President Cup, SAFF Championship and so on.
      Furthermore, they have excellent instructors.
      The outcome of all this stuff was clear in South Africa, Irmatov and Nishimura offered impressive performance, and why not, also Al Ghamdi at least in his first match, was good.
      As a refereeing blog, I think that we should underline and promote that.
      Probably you agree, Niclas.
      Therefore, I don't think that in some Asian countries there is a so high level of football, nevertheless AFC is able to train referees.
      OFC should look at that.

    2. I agree Chefren but you have to take another thing into consideration.

      AFC consists of 47 members. UEFA has 53. OFC has only 14 members and some of them small islands.

      So how can OFC have many toornaments when in reality the countries who will participate will be too little? That is the problem.

    3. Exactly, that's why they should arrange something with AFC. An exchange for smaller tournaments could create experience (remembering that AFC and CAF did that for a long time as well).
      But one must also mention that one cannot prosper quality and experience if you always send the same refs to the tournaments organized by FIFA..


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