October 4, 2012

"Should I chop my arm off?"

When Pavel Královec blew the final whistle after an intense and terrific UEFA Champions League match between English, respectively German champions Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund, the 1-1 draw accomplished at Etihad Stadium surely felt like a loss for the German side after many missed goalscoring opportunities and a converted penalty kick in the 90th minute of play in favour of the home team. 

Analysis of the situation

Subotić (l.fgr.) undeliberately touching the ball with his arm (c) WELT
The penalty call though has to be unfortunately (all the more harder it must feel) considered as a match influencing and therefore crucial mistake by the Czech official aspiring a promotion from UEFA's Elite Development Group to Elite Group of referees. 
Pavel Královec (r.) wrongly awarding the penalty kick (c) DerWesten
After a confusing situation in the box, the ball suddenly reached Kun Agüero who performed a sideways scissor-kick that facilitated the most controversial decision at the matchday: Dortmund defender Neven Subotić touched the ball with his arm so that Královec immediately pointed at the spot having been excellently positioned. All the criteria that is relevant for the question of whether a deliberate handball is existing strengthen the impression that it has been a bad call. Subotić's arm neither was in an unnatural position, nor was it deliberately and intentionally carted out to impede the ball. Furthermore, the distance between ball and arm surely did not exceed a metre. The Serbian's reaction time was therefore absolutely limited, he is not at fault. The most striking aspect is, beside the distance, the fact that his arm did not move towards the ball. In addition, it is in this specific case not important whether the ball would have reached the goal or not.

Neven Subotić later stated that it was "a nightmare to him that would not make him sleep" that night. He added: "It is simply sad that the referee has stolen us the victory. My arm was shot from felt 10 cms, should I chop my arm off?".

Despite the circumstance that Královec has certainly proven courage to whistle a penalty in the very last minute, this handball is not deliberate and therefore led to an unjustified penalty.

Contrary to this analysis, UEFA however justified this penalty. As Pavel Královec stated in an interview, Spanish referee observer Luis Medina Cantalejo declared this decision as a correct one.


  1. Crucial mistake, excellent analysis, I have nothing to add.
    I'm sorry for Kralovec, an excellent match until the last minutes and then, this wrong call which affected the outcome.
    I think that the handball rule is one of the big problems of the Laws of the games, because many referees are accustomed to whistle weird penalties, like this.

  2. IMO the penalty is justified. The hand at this position changes increases the size of the body. Furthermore I can't see why it isn't unnatural. The hand is wide open and as a result stops the ball.

  3. Have you ever played football? ;) I want to see you holding balance by having both arms to your body in such situations.

    1. It is not a matter of holding your hands on your body but this position wide open is what can provoke a referee in such occasion.

    2. I understand Královec, UEFA's and your point of view, but nonetheless, how can one call it a deliberate handball? One criteria can perhaps support the decision, yes, but even the criteria of having had an unnatural position is debatable. There are at least 2 other significant criteria that do not fulfill the need of a deliberate handball, can they be ignored? As a referee, I would never whistle such penalties.
      Perhaps they should it make clearer. Just a remark how it is handled in hockey. Foot-play is prohibited, does not matter whether deliberate or not deliberate. Foot is foot. It is good that in football hand is not automatically a del. handball, but it only leads to discussions, controversial scenes, probably that is even good (?).

    3. Let me remind you the penalty given by Skomina at the EURO QF Germany - Greece. According to the observer the call was OK. Would you give it a penalty?

    4. It was to my mind as wrong as this one and I know, Uilenberg agreed with it. But committees' point of views do not automatically disallow any room for diametrally other views, I hope. But it is a tendency in some matches, that's right. The funny thing about the GER-GRE penalty: Wagner made a EURO review also covering this scene. He is member of DFB committee and therefore is in deep contact with Fandel. DFB said the penalty was wrong. UEFA says it is right. I was confused.

  4. Anonymous4/10/12 13:28

    Sorry Chefren, penalty was correct. Referee observer Cantalejo said, it was correct. The same view has Dagmar Damkova, member of UEFA referee committee. And finally, Kralovec had an interview today and said that Cantalejo praised him for penalty. Excellent performence by Kralovec for whole match. Hand was not the body, prevent the movement of the ball towards the goal

    1. First thing: I'm not against Kralovec, and I'm happy for him if observer was proud of this call.
      Nevertheless, I'm absolutely against this penalty decision.
      I want to ask: is enough to see innatural position of the arm, in order to whistle the handball? According to the Laws of the Game, the answer is NO. You need to understand that the player was FOR SURE acting in a deliberate way.
      Well, tell me if, in a so short distance, the defender can think: "Now I open my arm so if the player shoots the ball, I will be able to prevent a goal scoring".
      Of course, no. The ball is moving towards the arm, not the opposite!
      It seems too easy to explain for me, that I really can't understand how some people can consider it as a penalty.
      But... if we want to change the rule, saying that it's enough an innatural position of the arm, then it's the end of the football.
      Every defender should play with tied hands behind the back, or even, without arms.

  5. Then UEFA suffers from a loss of reality with regard to football itself.

  6. By the way, does Cantalejo also still think that his penalty in ITA-AUS was right? (I know, not suitable, off topic, but had to be.).

    1. Anonymous4/10/12 14:01

      Niclas and I disagree about many things. But, as this analysis that I wrote. :) The only element that is in favor of punishment- Subotic hand defends space! Surely UEFA Committee to analyze this situation! IMO, it's not a penalty-kick!
      Dr Bane

    2. Finally, we can at least partly agree on one thing ;)

    3. Anonymous4/10/12 14:18

      Also, Karasev was great last night! ;)
      Dr B.

    4. Montpellier's coach stated that AT LEAST five yellows had been wrong. At least implies that there were more than 5, which was not the case.
      So two very good/excellent performances in a row in front of Batta and Uilenberg, it could have gone worse for Karasev..

  7. Here another epic and famous mistake (to my mind) in a whistled penalty due to handball:

    (video from 00:50)
    Italy - Chile at Franc 1998 World Cup, referee Lucien Bouchardeau from Niger.
    Wrong decision, this penalty given to Italy.
    Very close distance, arm in a normal position, absolutely not wide... but nevertheless, penalty.
    No explanations for that.

    1. Anonymous4/10/12 14:33

      Dear friend, it is all politics. That's the way it must be!1 + 1 is not always 2! ;)
      Dr B.

    2. Unfortunately not visible in GER :(

    3. Yes it is officially the worst penalty can be given. Very close distance and the arm down in a normal position. Absolutely wrong.

      BTW. The Fourth official arguing with the Chile coach is Mr. Batta. Amazing.

    4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VY1LreXDMg&feature=related

      try here
      it starts at 12:35

    5. Yes, Marc Batta was there, full appointment:

      Lucien BOUCHARDEAU (NIG)
      Assistant Referee 1
      Dramane DANTE (MLI)

      Assistant Referee 2
      Mohamed MANSRI (TUN)

      Fourth Official
      Marc BATTA (FRA)

    6. Anonymous5/10/12 01:11

      In 1998, Lucien Ousmane Bouchardeau from Niger and Ian McLeod from South Africa were selected on short notice to replace Sidi Bekaye Magassa from Mali and Charles Masembe from Uganda at the World Cup in France in consequence of their under par performances at the African Cup of Nations matches South Africa - Angola and South Africa - Congo DR respectively in Burkina Faso earlier that year.

      Kind regards from Vienna,

    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. Thanks for these historic informations, Peter... you should be an expert.
      Regards from Italy.

  8. I had never seen that situation before, terrible.
    And Dramane Dante was also at WC 2002/2006. Amazing career.

    1. And also at EURO 2000, by the way, FIFA gave him four further matches at WC 1998 after this penalty call (probably he did not have influence but he should have had in this situation)

  9. There are also other things to know about that penalty, here in Italy this referee from Niger became famous in a certain way, but of course not like Moreno 4 years later :)
    After this match, Bouchardeau talked to the Italian press, admitting his mistake and also revealing that FIFA was going to sack him from the tournament. This was a further mistake by himself.
    In fact, he was sent home, nevertheless in the subsequent years he had a normal career, also as FIFA referee...

  10. AC Milan-Internazionale will be played this sunday!
    The famous city of Milan derby.

    MILAN – INTER h. 20.45

  11. Next Saturday, I will see Sippel at Arena. As always, he has Schalke-Wolfsburg (for the 5th or 6th time..).

    Augsburg-Bremen: Kircher
    Schalke-Wolfsburg: Sippel
    Bayern-Hoffenheim: Stieler
    Freiburg-Nürnberg: Weiner
    Fürth-Hamburg: Kinhöfer
    Mainz-Düsseldorf: Aytekin
    Gladbach-Frankfurt: Fritz
    Stuttgart-Leverkusen: Perl
    Hannover-Dortmund: Gagelmann

  12. ENG
    ===Premier League===
    Manchester City - Sunderland (Lee Willem Probert)
    Chelsea London - Norwich City (Anthony Taylor)
    Swansea City - Reading (Michael Leslie Dean)
    West Bromwich Albion - Queens Park Rangers (Michael Jones)
    Wigan Athletic - Everton (Kevin Friend)
    West Ham United - Arsenal (Philip Dowd)
    Southampton - Fulham (Mark Clattenburg)
    Liverpool - Stoke City (Lee Stephen Mason)
    Tottenham Hotspur - Aston Villa (Neil Swarbrick)
    Newcastle United - Manchester United (Howard Melton Webb)
    Crystal Palace FC - Burnley FC (Roger East)
    Sheffield Wednesday - Hull City (Jonathan Moss)
    ===League 2===
    Accrington Stanley - Rochdale (Christopher Foy)
    Morecambe - Burton Albion (Stuart Attwell)

    Valladolid - Espanyol (David Fernández Borbalán)
    Atlético - Málaga (Miguel Ángel Pérez Lasa)
    Betis - Sociedad (José Antonio Teixeira Vitienes)
    Athletic - Osasuna (José Luis González González)
    Levante - Valencia (Carlos del Cerro Grande)
    Zaragoza - Getafe (César Muñiz Fernández)
    Mallorca - Granada (Alejandro José Hernández Hernández)
    Celta - Sevilla (Jesús Gil Manzano)
    Barcelona - Real (Carlos Delgado Ferreiro)
    Rayo Vallecano - Deportivo (Alfonso Javier Álvarez Izquierdo)

    ===Ligue 1===
    Saint-Étienne - Nancy (Sébastien Moreira)
    Reims - Nice (Fredy Fautrel)
    Sochaux - Rennes (Benoît Millot)
    Montpellier - Evian (Philippe Kalt)
    Lille - AC Ajaccio (Lionel Jaffredo)
    Bastia - Troyes (Mikaël Lesage)
    Toulouse - Valenciennes (Jean-Charles Cailleux)
    Brest - Bordeaux (Clément Turpin)
    Lorient - Lyon (Saïd Ennjimi)
    Marseille - PSG (Tony Chapron)
    ===Ligue 2===
    Le Havre - Auxerre (Nicolas Rainville)
    GFC Ajaccio - Nantes (Wilfried Bien)

    Augsburg - Werder (Knut Kircher)
    Bayern - Hoffenheim (Tobias Stieler)
    Schalke - Wolfsburg (Peter Sippel)
    Freiburg - Nürnberg (Michael Weiner)
    Mainz - Fortuna (Deniz Aytekin)
    Greuther Fürth - HSV (Thorsten Kinhöfer)
    Mönchengladbach - Eintracht (Marco Fritz)
    Stuttgart - Bayer (Günter Perl)
    Hannover - Dortmund (Peter Gagelmann)

    Catania - Parma (Gianpaolo Calvarese)
    Chievo - Sampdoria (Andrea Gervasoni)
    Fiorentina - Bologna (Daniele Orsato)
    Genoa - Palermo (Dino Tommasi)
    Milan - Inter (Paolo Valeri)
    Napoli - Udinese (Daniele Doveri)
    Pescara - Lazio (Andrea De Marco)
    Roma - Atalanta (Luca Banti)
    Siena - Juventus (Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni)
    Torino - Cagliari (Domenico Celi)

    1. NED
      NEC Nijmegen - ADO Den Haag (Ed Janssen)
      Willem II Tilburg - RKC Waalwijk (Bas Nijhuis)
      PEC Zwolle - Heracles Almelo (Dennis Higler)
      Vitesse Arnhem - SC Heerenveen (Richard Liesveld)
      Roda Kerkrade - VVV Venlo (Tom van Sichem)
      Ajax Amsterdam - FC Utrecht (Jan Willem Wegereef)
      PSV Eindhoven - NAC Breda (Björn Kuipers)
      FC Groningen - Feyenoord Rotterdam (Serdar Gözübüyük)
      Twente Enschede - AZ Alkmaar (Danny Desmond Makkelie)

      Vålerenga - Strømsgodset (Ken Henry Johnsen)
      Viking - Aalesund (Ola Hobber Nilsen)
      Stabæk - Tromsø (Dag Vidar Hafsås)
      Haugesund - Fredrikstad (Kristoffer Helgerud)
      Sogndal - Lillestrøm (Per Ivar Staberg)
      Molde - Sandnes Ulf (Trond Ivar Døvle)
      Odd Grenland - Rosenborg (
      Brann - Hønefoss (Trygve Kjensli)

      Terek Grozny - Rostov (Aleksey Nikolayev)
      Volga Nizhny Novgorod - Mordovia Saransk (Sergey Karasev)
      Lokomotiv Moscow - Kuban Krasnodar (Vladimir Kazmenko)
      Alania Vladikavkaz - Krylia Sovetov Samara (Sergey Lapochkin)
      Krasnodar - Zenit St. Petersburg (Timur Arslanbekov)
      Spartak Moscow - CSKA Moscow (Aleksey Eskov)
      Dynamo Moscow - Anzhi Makhachkala (Aleksandr Egorov)
      Rubin Kazan - Amkar Perm (Vladislav Bezborodov)

      Inverness - Ross County (Iain Robertson Brines)
      Hibernian - Dundee FC (William Collum)
      Kilmarnock - Aberdeen (Kevin Clancy)
      Motherwell - Dundee United (Euan Norris)
      St. Johnstone - St. Mirren (Alan Muir)
      Celtic - Heart of Midlothian (Craig Alexander Thomson)

      Olimpija Ljubljana - Mura Murska Sobota (Roberto Ponis)
      Luka Koper - NK Domžale (Matej Jug)
      NK Celje - Nova Gorica (Slavko Vinčić)
      Triglav Kranj - NK Maribor (Andrej Tratnjek)
      Aluminij Kidričevo - Rudar Velenje (Dragoslav Perić)

      Malmö FF - IFK Norrköping FK (Martin Hansson)
      BK Häcken - Syrianska FC (Johan Hamlin)
      Åtvidabergs FF - IFK Göteborg (Tobias Mattsson)
      AIK - Gefle IF FF (Andreas Ekberg)
      Mjällby AIF - Helsingborgs IF (Magnus Ahlsén)
      Kalmar FF - Djurgården (Bojan Pandzic)
      GAIS - IF Elfsborg (Michael Lerjéus)
      Örebro - GIF Sundsvall (Jonas Eriksson)

      Gaziantepspor - Antalyaspor (Serkan Çınar)
      Trabzonspor - Kasımpaşa (Hüseyin Göçek)
      Karabükspor - Orduspor (Cüneyt Çakır)
      İstanbul BB - Gençlerbirliği (Koray Gençerler)
      Elazığspor - Akhisar Belediyespor (Barış Şimşek)
      Galatasaray - Eskişehirspor (İlker Meral)
      Sivasspor - Bursaspor (Bülent Yıldırım)
      Mersin İdmanyurdu - Kayserispor (Volkan Bayarslan)
      Fenerbahçe - Beşiktaş (Özgür Yankaya)

      Metalurh Donetsk - Kryvbas Kryviy Rih (Kostiantyn Trukhanov)
      Zorya Luhansk - Karpaty Lviv (Anatoliy Zhabchenko)
      Illichivets Mariupol - Chornomorets Odessa (Serhiy Lysenchuk)
      Metalurh Zaporizhya - Volyn Lutsk (Yevhen Aranovskyy)
      Arsenal Kiev - Hoverla Uzhhorod (Yuriy Mozharovskyy)
      Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk - Dynamo Kiev (Yuriy Moseychuk)
      Metalist Kharkiv - Shakhtar Donetsk (Vitaliy Hodulan)
      Tavriya Simferopol - Vorskla Poltava (Vitaliy Romanov)

    2. Great!
      Interesting appointments for Ankaya, Doveri and Valeri.

    3. Big clashes to:
      - Howard Melton Webb (Newcastle - MU)
      - Carlos Delgado Ferreiro (El Classico)
      - Carlos del Cerro Grande (Levante - Valencia)
      - Tony Chapron (Marseille - PSG)
      - Paolo Valeri (Milan - Inter)
      - Danny Desmond Makkelie (Twente - AZ)
      - Aleksey Eskov (Spartak - CSKA)
      - Aleksandr Egorov (Dynamo - Anzhi)
      - Özgür Yankaya (Fenerbahçe - Beşiktaş, he must be new FIFA!)
      - Yuriy Moseychuk (Dnipro - Dynamo)

    4. AUT
      Wolfsberger AC - SV Ried (Harald Lechner)
      SV Mattersburg - FC Red Bull Salzburg (Rene Eisner)
      FC Admira Wacker Mödling - FC Wacker Innsbruck (Thomas Prammer)
      SK Sturm Graz - FK Austria Wien (Alain Bieri - SUI)
      SK Rapid Wien - SC Wiener Neustadt (Christian Dintar)

      Odense - Nordsjælland (Mads-Kristoffer Kristoffersen)
      SønderjyskE - Aarhus (Michael Tykgaard)
      Silkeborg - Horsens (Jakob Kehlet)
      Randers - Midtjylland (Jens Maae)
      Esbjerg - København (Claus Bo Larsen)
      Brøndby - Aalborg (Michael Svendsen)

    5. Yes, probably this is the most important appointment for Daniele Doveri, since he is a serie A referee. An important test, also for his future.
      Until now, the only match he refereed with a big team involeved, was a Juventus-Cesena last season, with a very controversial penalty awarded.
      He has never refereed Inter or Mlan and he can't referee Lazio and Roma due to his origin.


  13. Claus Bo Larsen is still refereeing?

    1. Of course, he's still active in Denmark.

      AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, 1/4 finals, second legs

      1. Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) 2-1 Al-Ittihad (KSA)
      Kim Dong-Jin, Jeong Hae-Sang, Yang Byoung-Eun, Ko Hyung-Jin (KOR)
      YC: 5 (2-3) || PK: 1 (1-0)
      First match: 2-4 || Aggregate: 4-5 || Advance: Al-Ittihad

      2. Al-Ahli (KSA) 4-1 Foolad Sepahan (IRN)
      Peter Green, Brad Hobson (AUS), Mohd Sabri bin Mat Daud, Mohd Nafeez bin Abdul Wahab (MAS)
      YC: 3 (2-1) || RC: 1 (0-1) || PK: 1 (1-0)
      First match: 0-0 || Aggregate: 4-1 || Advance: Al-Ahli

      3. Bunyodkor (UZB) 3-2 a.e.t. Adelaide United (AUS)
      Ali Hassan Ibrahim Abdulnabi, Muhammad Jaafar Muhammad Salman, Said Jalal Mahfoodh Alawi, Jameel Jumaa Abdulhussain (BHR)
      YC: 12 (4-8) || RC: 3 (1-2)
      First match: 2-2 || Aggregate: 5-4 || Advance: Bunyodkor

      4. Al-Hilal (KSA) 0-4 Ulsan Hyundai (KOR)
      Muhsin Turki, Muhammad Reza Abufazli, Rasoul Fouroughi, Said Muzaffari Zadih Yazdi (IRN)
      YC: 7 (4-3)
      First match: 0-1 || Aggregate: 0-5 || Advance: Ulsan Hyundai


      Al-Ittihad (KSA) - Al-Ahli (KSA)
      Bunyodkor (UZB) - Ulsan Hyundai (KOR)

    2. That was exactly what came to mind??
      He is still one of my favourite...

    3. It also feels as if Wegereef had retired a decade ago, but he is still there ;)

  14. Blom missed a clear penalty in first half... extremely easy match.

  15. Anonymous5/10/12 10:52

    simply by the rules of FIFA and UEFA, the hand is spread his body and stopped the ball in the direction of the impact. That is why the decision of the judicial committee, rightly, a penalty. If someone does not like it, the problem is in a rule, not in this decision!

  16. The rule defines more than this one criteria. You have to weigh it up and that is exactly what the rule demands. It depends on the interpretation.

  17. Profesor Taltomar6/10/12 22:20

    In the rule is stated "ball to hand, or hand to ball". The distance, natural hand position plus general statement gives clear decision - no penalty. I'd like to remeber http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYDQMyq7Ybw&feature=related, the last sequence. FIFA also justified Lariond's "no penalty". UEFa nad FIFA justifiy decions even when there are contradicory in the same tournament. In this moment the most confusing decision is "handball or not". It would be much easier for all referees if IFAB states "only hands along the body is allowed". Yes it's not natural, but then it it will be clear.

  18. Kralovec had a great game until the nightmare of the last minute penalty.

  19. Hey Niclas

    What do you know about Aytekin?

    Saw him for first time (in full) in England U21 game. Very mixed and some strange disciplinary action.

    1. See U21 thread. There is a small comment and my marks for him.

  20. Hi edward

    I don't mind his Atkinson-like approach to refereeing, in fact I often choose to adopt this approach myself. Re your comments, the 3rd booking in the game was not correct given the breakaway was not obvious and more towards defensive penalty area, than half way line.

    1. If you take into consideration the first 2 bookings then it is acceptable. For me it is correct. It is a reckless challenge with a slight use of hands in order to stop his opponent.

  21. But there is the thing, we shouldn't be cautioning players because it is 'acceptable' - and even then I'd have to argue that the ratio would still be 10:90.

    It is barely reckless and whilst halting a player's progress (similar to 'pulling'), if we are cautioning players for such harmless (and probably careless) misdeeds then we open ourselves up to a whole range of unsavoury possibilities. The defensive team far outnumbered the attacking threat, and he was essentially a lone runner.

    The first two cards were easy - gimme's - but his control in my opinion suffered after this third incident; no need to raise the tempo yourself as a referee, especially when you have the option not to give it - i.e. not just acceptable, but 'expected' by all 22, the crowd and management teams.

    1. I can see your point. But imagine the opposite. The referee to let such a possible booking go unpunished. Then it is almost certain that the whole Serbian team would react to that decision and the referee would have to handle a much more difficult game with a few possible Red Cards due to frustration.

      Such cases can proven to be very tight. Especially if the other team has already received 2 booking in just 5 minutes. Would you take such risk? Personally no. I wouldn't want to ruin my game.


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