April 13, 2013

Predicting Promotions and Demotions in UEFA's Referee Categories

In June 2013, UEFA's referee committee members will accomplish the biannual modification of their referee category system. Some Elite Development Group referees may get their hopes up to advance to the highest category in June, i.e. the Elite Group. At the same time, many of them could potentially face a demotion to First Group. A few thoughts on that are issued in the following, since the decisive stages of UEFA's club competitions, Champions League and Europa League, are already completed.

Polish official Pawel Gil (c) ZIMBIO
From Elite to First
Basically, there are only three referees who could expect a pending demotion to First Group. One of them could be English Martin Atkinson, who showed several weaknesses in his UCL matches between Spartak and Fenerbahçe as well as between Lille and Bayern München. Thus, he did not get any further match in the knockout stages of both competitions (the only opportunity would be a semifinal or a final that are still to come).
At the same time, Olegário Benquerença of Portugal was injured for a long time and came back in UCL in November and now also in a UEL quarterfinal where he showed solid or good performances. So I could imagine he stays in Elite.
A shaky candidate could be Italian Paolo Tagliavento, who has not his best season and awaits pressure from behind, as Orsato is advancing quickly (see below).
> prediction: Martin Atkinson to First Group

From ED to Elite
During the past two and a half seasons, Serbian official Milorad Mažić has been observed by six members of the referee committee including Pierluigi Collina, UEFA's chief officer in terms of refereeing, and showed pretty good performances during the entire season 2012/13. He additionally received his first UCL appointments, among others for remarkable duels like Borussia Dortmund - Man. City or the Round of 16 second leg bwteen Paris S.G. and Valencia CF. At the start of April 2013, Collina then assessed him in a UEL quarterfinal between Tottenham and Basel, where he showed a convincing performance. Based on that, the committee assigned him to take control over a semifinal's first leg in Istanbul as well, where managed to overall convince, too. Furthermore, he still is on the short list for 2014 FIFA World Cup, so that there should be really nothing in Mažić's way to the top class of referees.
In my opinion, the three referees who are, besides the Serbian, the most probable candidates for a promotion to Elite are Turkish Fırat Aydınus, Croatia's Ivan Bebek and French referee Antony Gautier. All three made a huge progress during the last season, got big matches and were observed by important referee observers. Their performances indicate they have the potential to be promising future Elite referees, but also revealed smaller areas for improvement, e.g. Aydınus made a blatant mistake in last week's UEL match in Moscow. Comparing their level to Mažić, they should still get some time in ED. Germany's two ED officials Deniz Aytekin and Manuel Gräfe could be hidden candidates for a promotion, although it is unsure whether Gräfe may stay in ED for further six months, as he has already spent a lot of time in it. 
> prediction: Milorad Mažić to Elite

From ED to First Group
As for demotions, one can predict Spaniard David Fernández Borbalán, who showed rather weak performances before his long and still existing absence due to injury. Same counts for Bas Nijhuis from the Netherlands, who allowed himself too many crucial mistakes and controversial decisions in his matches. Consequently, he was completely left out from the knockout phase, too. As Peter Rasmussen has announced his retirement, his place becomes free as well.
> prediction: David Fernández Borbalán and Bas Nijhuis to First Group

From First Group to ED
Based on the previous prognoses, there would be four possible places in ED that could be taken by current First Group officials.
Pawel Gil of Poland has been observed by multiple relevant observers and showed basically solid performances in e.g. the UCL match between Paris S.G. against Dinamo Zagreb or Zenit St.Petersburg against Basel in UEL. It could be time to promote him, also reinforced by his nomination for the important final tournament of UEFA's Under-21 competition. 
Furthermore, Russian Sergei Karasev has totally convinced in all his matches in this UCL and UEL season. Many important observers, correct crucial decisions such as three penalties in Gladbach - Lazio have characterized his progress. Hence, he should be a totally sure bet for a promotion. His refereeing and management skills are at the moment more advanced than a lot of ED referees' ones, I would dare to say.
As a replacement for Fernández Borbalán, there could be a promotion for Antonio Mateu Lahoz of Spain. Good performances in very important matches and observers like former referee committee member Iouri Baskakov or Bertrand Layec reinforce this prediction.
Finally, Matej Jug from Slovenia probably is at the borderline between First and ED. In his last match in UEL, where he was observed by committee member Bo Karlsson, he however showed lacks of control in one situation. His promotion could follow, but I think UEFA will wait and see how he will do in Israel at UEFA Under-21 EURO.
> prediction: Pawel Gil, Sergei Karasev, Antonio Mateu Lahoz and perhaps also Matej Jug to ED

In the light of the aforesaid, the two highest categories will look like that if I am right...:

Elite Group
Olegário Benquerença (POR), Felix Brych (GER), Cüneyt Çakır (TUR), Mark Clattenburg (ENG), William Collum (SCO), Jonas Eriksson (SWE), Viktor Kassai (HUN), Pavel Královec (CZE), Björn Kuipers (NED), Stéphane Lannoy (FRA), Milorad Mažić (SRB), Svein Oddvar Moen (NOR), Pedro Proença (POR), Nicola Rizzoli (ITA), Gianluca Rocchi (ITA), Damir Skomina (SVN), Wolfgang Stark (GER), Paolo Tagliavento (ITA), Craig Thomson (SCO), Alberto Undiano Mallenco (ESP), Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP), Howard Webb (ENG)

Elite Development Group
Fırat Aydınus (TUR), Deniz Aytekin (GER), Ivan Bebek (CRO), Antony Gautier (FRA), Pawel Gil (POL), Manuel Gräfe (GER), Tom Harald Hagen (NOR), Ovidiu Alin Hategan (ROU), (Matej Jug (SVN)), Sergei Karasev (RUS), Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP), Daniele Orsato (ITA), Aleksandar Stavrev (MKD), Marijo Strahonja (CRO), István Vad (HUN)


  1. Anonymous13/4/13 15:31

    It is impoosible for Aydinus to promote elite catagorie.He has 3 times 7.9 ( Bayern vs Valencia :missed a penalty,Denmark-Bulgaria:before the penalty there was a handball and also missed red card DGSO,Rubin vs Chealse:awfull decision in a very easy match..

    My predection is :Mazic and Bebek will promote to elite

    kind regards

  2. Anonymous13/4/13 15:44

    Florian Meyer has left Elite Group only to get two german Referees in Elite Development. It is absolutely clear that Aytekin or Gräfe will be promote to Elite to get again three german referees in the Elite Group.

  3. 100% agreed, but I doubt it will be in June. Gräfe, born in 1973, would have 4 1/2 years in Elite in the best circumstance. What could he achieve? And Aytekin can be tested in next season's group stage, he can get a lot, does not matter whether ED or Elite. In December, one could still promote him to Elite and as Meyer will be then out from FIFA, Zwayer could move up to ED..

    1. Anonymous15/4/13 19:52

      If I am correctly informed, one has to be in 1st group for at least two seasons, before having the opportunity of being promoted to ED... For that reason I think Zwayer will be promoted to ED in December 2014 (because I do think of him as a talented referee). I didn't check my information on promotions to ED in the past, but this is what I've heard...

  4. I agree that Atkinson ist the top candidate for a demotion, but I don't see much danger for Tagliavento, because he had a R16 match. Benquerenca should get another year, because of his injury this season should not count too much.

    Mazic should be a safe bet (like already in winter...), if there is a second place, I would choose Aydinus.

    Fernandez' demotion should also be quite clear, my number two here is Vad. I think, Nijhuis could get another chance. For Gräfe counts the same as for Benquerenca: The injury could give him another year.

    For promotion from First group I completely agree with Karasev, Gil and Mateu Lahoz. I could also imagine Todorov or Koukulakis, if he is not too old.

  5. In case of a promotion for Koukoulakis UEFA would have given him more after his R32 match I guess.
    Todorov is an interesting name: solid performance in his CL debut, justified late penalty in extreme weather conditions, then he got a committee member as observer in R32, but also after that, no match. So I doubt he will get this promotion.
    Another sign for the importance of politics. Imagine Aleksei Kulbakov would come from another country, would he be still only in First Group?..

    1. Giving a referee matches doesn't mean he is going to be promoted. In Koukoulakis case my feeling is that they will promote him (in case of good performances) next December and not now (even though our association wants a promotion now).

      Since many of you are writing about Gil. I still have my doubts. Seeing him twice this year he has a habit of pushing the strongest team (the bigger name). For that reason I wouldn't promote him.

    2. Why not, it would be time for a Greek referee. I must admit I did not see even one minute of Koukoulakis this season.
      Concerning Gil, on paper that's true, but both performances were absolutely good and solid. I cannot confirm an intended pushing of bigger teams.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. completely agree. Greece is a great country and has a high quality league!
      Edward, what's going on with the boss PAO Janakopulos ( basketball )? I watched the first game ULEB EUROLEAGUE qf Barcelona-Pao 72-70 and the controversial unsportsmanlike personal foul CJ Wallace ( Lasme ). Ilija Belošević ( crew chief ) which is one of the best basketball referee in Europe did not want to interfere in the decision Tolga Sahin (ITA). Naturalized Italian refereeing tonight ULEB Eurocup finals.It seems the war between CSKA and PAO. ULEB Chief referees is Greek Kostas Rigas ( and they mostly blame him ). This was done the expertise and of the trial was fair. Also such an unsportsmanlike personal foul isn't judged Diamantidis- decision is also made Tolga Sahin. Also, there were some errors referee Bissang from France ( offensive fouls ). But Ilija Belošević nothing to award damages Pao! On the contrary. They named Rigas and Belošević " MAFIA ". Did you watch the game?

    5. @Admin.

      I never said anything about intented pushing of a big team. I just made an observation. Furthermore I am aware of the marks he received in both matches.


      Panathinaikos B.C. is having a transitional period. Last summer they made many changes in players. As for the war as you call it between PAO and CSKA it started a year ago in the final four in Instabul when CSKA was heavily pushed by the referees to reach the final. It is more likely a "war" between PAO and Bertomeu (dating 4 years ago). Belosevic was caught in the fire and was blamed for the whole refereeing performance (from all 3 referees).
      Concerning Rigas it is a whole new story.

    6. I agree- they are in transition. Željko Obradović's legendary coach ( 6 titles with Pao ) and Mr. Božidar Maljković brought European title in Pao. Serbian trainers are a favorite among fans of PAO. Belošević ( whose father was a legendary referee Obrad Belošević ) has a clear-referee biography ( judged Greek team semi-finals of the WC and OG ) . Three EC finals ( with Luigi Lamonica- ITA ) and 5 times nominated for the final-four Euroleague ( judged the three final matches )! It's a great biography, and was born in 1972. Even the last ball is awarded in favor of Pao and after watching the clip reversed the decision. All of the contested decision brought an inexperienced French and " key " decisions Tolga Sahin ( which won ). Serbian people love Greek people and here is put on the pillory. By the ULEB EUROLEGUE rules should not be advertised- I'm very sorry because I know that it is extremely unfair.
      I think Janakopoulos targeted of 500 euros to referee JC Arteaga from Spain to protest ... ( CSKA-PAO) :)))

    7. @ Edward: no problem, I understood your point but just wanted to clarify that he was right when "pushing" the bigger name, not that a negative impression comes up.

    8. Dear Admin, you mentioned Kulbakov. You said that if he would be born in another country, than... Why do you think he is a good ref?

  6. I agree almost on everything, but there is something to say.

    In the Elite Category, the only name in danger is Atkinson, as you correctly said, he showed weak performance in group stage, and maybe for this reason he was not appointed in KO. The fact that UEFA wants to bet more on Clattenburg is clear, since he got Marko as observer in Munchen. Benquerença should be safe: UEFA waited for him a long time, and his return in Basel - Tottenham seemed good. We should not forget that he has been a WC quaterfinal referee. Then, about Tagliavento. I think that it's too early for a possible demotion, by the way it seems clear that now Orsato is pushing, but in my opinion he still needs to stay in Elite Development, due to several mistakes occurred in his matches, including the last in EL. One thing for sure, it would be impossible to see 4 Italian Elite officials, so a referee (and surely Tagliavento) will have to leave the category in the future, to make room for Orsato. Difficult situation, because Tagliavento has still several years as FIFA referee (4). For AYtekin, it's too early. I think that he will be the replacement of Stark next year, when he will retire due to age. At the same time I don't see what future Graefe will have, since he suffered a long injury but he seems really too old to stay still in Development, waiting for a promotion. Surely, he doesn't deserve to be promoted for now, we should wait December, at least. Fernandez Borbalan will be back just tomorrow in Zaragoza - Barcelona, so his injury is finally over. Anyway, it seems clear the replacement: Mateu Lahoz taking his place. Mazic is sure of his promotion, he never did a really crucial a blatant mistake, like it happened for other referees, I want to underline this thing because in the last time it's rare for UEFA. The speech about Aydinus is a bit more unsure, but probably he will be promoted, too. Bas Nijhuis is the only referee without a real motivation for his absence in KO, but it's clear that they are going to demote him for his mistakes. The new name from Holland should be Van Boekel, observerd by a committee member in this KO, but I don't know if already ready to be promoted in Development.
    Stavrev will stay there, at least for the next 6 months.
    Sergei Karasev and Pawel Gil almost sure of their promotions, by the way let's wait for their performance in U21 EURO Championship. Finally, Jug: mmmhh, I still don't see him in Development, at least for now, but it's just my opinion.

    1. Anonymous15/4/13 20:07

      Pol van Boekel will not be promoted to ED. He was already informed that, because of his age, first group will be his final station. Danny Makkelie is top candidate for a Dutch promotion to ED, but not earlier than in December next year.

  7. Anonymous13/4/13 21:31

    I see Mazic and Aydinus/Bebek promoted to Elite, while Karasev and Gil will be promoted to ED. I am not sure about Grafe, but UEFA must made a decision after he has been ED for 3 years.

  8. Do you think Stark should be demoted? I believe it is unfair to only criticize Atkinson. I believe Atkinson, Tagliavento and Stark should all be demoted. I don't know about you but I have never been a fan of Tagliavento.

    1. No I do not think so. Basically because Stark was a World Cup referee and still is on the pre list for 2014 World Cup, too. Atkinson has not such a tournament in sight.

    2. Oh yes. Thankyou.

  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iGxh4sjJrLk

    No comments.

  10. The same happened years ago when Graham Barber, also English, forgot his cards in a German friendly match, I think it was against Slovakia. He left them at the hotel...that's what one calls good pre-match preparation ;)

  11. Anonymous14/4/13 16:41

    Ivan Bebek has a perfect season and he goes to elite.

  12. @Admin - agree wit all the analysis though I would genuinely like to see Tagliavento demoted rather than Atkinson - who may not have the 'form' but is clearly the greater talent.

    1. I with you on this one. I've never rated Tagliavento. I still think Atkinson can return to his best. Tagliavento should be replaced with Mazic. As for Aydinus, well I think it is too early for him. Borbalan should be switched with his countryman Lahoz and Gill and Karasev should be promoted too. Nijhuis should also return to the First Category. I think Bebek and Aydinus should be given six more months. I think UEFA will wait until December to promote them.

    2. Then basically we have nearly the same view on that.
      I understand your point of view that Tagliavento should replace Atkinson, but I think UEFA could target at giving the Italian one more chance and if Orsato is ready in December, then they should switch positions.
      As Philipp underlined, Tagliavento at least got a R16 and R32 match in CL/EL..at the same time Atkinson got nothing. That must have a reason.

  13. The referees for the Confederations Cup will not be chosen before the meeting of all candidates in Rio de Janeiro (25-29 May). 12-16 referees will be nominated.

    1. Interesting piece of news, they (I mean FIFA committee) are acting in a more accurate way, than last year. If you remember, they released the list of preselected officials, and immediately the names for Olympics were published at least 2 months prior to the tournament. Now they have to make a more detailed selection, therefore we will know the names only a few days prior to the beginning of the tournament.
      In South Africa 2009 we had 10 trios, with one working as stand-by (Maillet).

    2. Anonymous15/4/13 13:57

      All currently pre-selected refs will go to that meeting or there will be a cut-off after the seminars by confederations and then only those who remain on the list will go?

  14. Great analisys as well Admin !!! I agree on all; maybe even Benquerenca's position is not so safe. I'm convinced too about Mazic's, Gil's and Lahoz's promotion and F. Borbalan and NIJHUS demotion.
    Maybe too early for Jug; he needs to demonstrate something better.
    What about Kelly, Schorgenhofer, Alon, Gumienny and Balaj ? no way for promotion ?
    Why so many ref for confederation cup ? There are only 12 matches in group stage, I think that only 10 ref will be appointed

  15. @ Anonymous: As far as I am informed, all pre-selected referees will attend Rio's meeting in May (not the entire trios, only the main referees).
    @ f: thanks. The referees you mentioned are mostly reliable, experienced, but too old for a promotion and they all have already experienced a demotion in their career. The only one who could have the ability to go into ED once again, although I strongly doubt it, is Alan Kelly.
    And yes, the number of 12-16 appears too high, but that's what a FIFA spokesman confirmed to the press. Might be that there will be two or three officials who are only 4th officials.

    1. Anonymous15/4/13 15:09

      How about the appoiintments for the other FIFA tournaments (U20, U17)?

    2. No idea. U-20 WC should be made during the next weeks, for U-17 WC we naturally must wait much longer, until August I think.

  16. Anonymous15/4/13 15:12

    Niclas, can you get from your UEFA sources the latest classification of futsal referees?

    1. ELITE
      Bauernfeind Gerald Austria
      Birkett Marc England
      Fernandes Coelho Eduardo Jose Portugal
      Gutierrez Lumbreras Fernando Spain
      Henych Karel Czech Republic
      Ivanov Oleg Ukraine
      Janosevic Danijel Croatia
      Kammerer Stephan Germany
      Kovacs Gabor Hungary
      Lemal Pascal Belgium
      Massini Francesco Italy
      Onatsu Timo Finland
      Panayides Petros Cyprus
      Shabanov Ivan Russia
      Sivic Borut Slovenia
      Sorescu Bogdan Romania
      Stawicki Sebastian Poland

      Benazzi Abdallah Netherlands
      Bylois Gerd Belgium
      Cachia Franco Malta
      Cerny Ondrej Czech Republic
      Cetin Kamil Turkey
      Costa Bogalho Nuno Miguel Portugal
      Drebuzhan Sergey Ukraine
      Eichler Swen Germany
      Farkas Balazs Hungary
      Gherman Gabriel Constantin Romania
      Gracia Marin Roberto Spain
      Kolev Borislav Bulgaria
      Konstantinides Antonis Cyprus
      Malfer Alessandro Italy
      Nikolic Dejan Slovenia
      Tomic Sasa Croatia
      Vasic Sreten Serbia

      Akimtsev Ilya Russia
      Bajan Alexandru Romania
      Barton Josip FYR Macedonia
      Blazquez Sierra Marcelino Spain
      Constantinou Demetris Cyprus
      Darahan Vyacheslav Ukraine
      Deraeve Stéphane Belgium
      Enchev Trayan Bulgaria
      Gal Marian Slovakia
      Galante Angelo Italy
      Gelonese Fabio Italy
      Gerina Amil Montenegro
      Golubevs Aleksandrs Latvia
      Hora Hennadiy Ukraine
      Jelic Nikola Croatia
      Kadykov Vladimir Russia
      Kinov Kalin Bulgaria
      Kresta Jan Czech Republic
      Lehtinen Toni Finland
      Lenting Robert Pieter Netherlands
      Lobo Silva Mario Fernando Portugal
      Mammadov Elchin Azerbaijan
      Mantev Petar FYR Macedonia
      Nilholt Fredric Sweden
      Nonikashvili Arsen Georgia
      Oliveira Magalhães Sérgio Jorge Portugal
      Paradzik Goran Bosnia-Herzegovina
      Pelissier Cédric France
      Pena Diaz Francisco Miguel Spain
      Pesko Lukas Slovakia
      Radovic Damir Serbia
      Rakutski Vitali Belarus
      Samadli Elchin Azerbaijan
      Sartain Gavin England
      Skakic Dragan Bosnia-Herzegovina
      Sliva Aleksandras Lithuania
      Soykan Ozan Turkey
      Stamoulis Epaminondas Greece
      Steczko Slawomir Poland
      Topic Andrej Croatia
      Venc Radek Czech Republic
      Waroux Cédric Belgium
      Zahović Admir Slovenia
      Zelentsov Grigoriy Russia
      Zogaj Bekim Switzerland

      Bogdanov Zoran Serbia
      Bohbot Moshe Israel
      Bohun Mario Slovakia
      Boskovic Veljko Montenegro
      Burtescu Septimiu George Romania
      Cepoi Octavian Moldova
      Christodoulis Vasileios Greece
      Cohen Tomer Israel
      Dzeikala Maksim Belarus
      El Jilali Ibrahim Netherlands
      Frak Tomasz Poland
      Hakrama Kreshnik Albania
      Hambardzumyan Artur Armenia
      Kečo Tarik Bosnia-Herzegovina
      Khukhilava Shota Georgia
      Koutsogiannos Konstantinos Greece
      Kuusk Ainar Estonia
      Markoski Marjan FYR Macedonia
      Namazov Ramil Azerbaijan
      Nicolaou Costas Cyprus
      Niemelä Olli Finland
      Nurullayev Yusif Azerbaijan
      Paitreault Christophe France
      Porkert Patrik Austria
      Purins Ingus Latvia
      Rogers Simon Republic of Ireland
      Roure Ramirez Gerard Andorra
      Subocz Jacky France
      Todorovič Simon Slovenia
      Valikonis Robertas Lithuania
      Vigfusson Andri Iceland
      Weijers Barry Antonius Johannes Hendrikus Netherlands

  17. Coppa Italia semifinal second leg
    Inter-Roma (1-2)
    Mauro Bergonzi
    Giorgio Niccolai - Riccardo Di Fiore
    Antonio Danilo Giannoccaro

  18. Israeli referee Liran Liany may be in trouble with his association.

    Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oyUWyXYzgDI

  19. Referee Observers for Cl semi-finals:
    Dortmund-Real Dallas
    Bayern-Barca Layec
    Real-Dortmund Marko
    Barca-Bayern Karlsson
    EL Semis:
    Fener-Benfica Hauge
    Basel-Chelsea Fandel
    Benfica-Fener ...
    Chelsea-Basel Castro

  20. Wohoo that's a word. Thanks a lot kika!
    I predict Rizzoli for Basel-Chelsea.

    @ Edward: interesting, the confrontation clearly came from Liany's action, he looked for the contact with the player (basically we say such sentences when talking about two players, no way a referee is involved in that o.O)

  21. by the way. could you please also post the delegates if available? because then profound predictions would be possible. thanks!

    1. I only know so far Bayern-BARCA Hansen Jim Stjerne (Den)
      and Basel-Chelsea Di Cesare (ITA).When i will have more news i will let you know

    2. That's already a lot, thanks!
      Because then Rizzoli for Basel-Chelsea is impossible.

  22. Hi Niclas :)
    Many committee members here, how you can explain that?
    Surely, they are going to observe all Elite officials, so?

    1. Surely. I think that's normal in these stages of the competition and - unfortunately for us - indicates nothing.
      But you can again see the huge importance of Bertrand Layec as observer. Perhaps he will take Batta's place soon?
      But we now know one thing: Webb will not attend Dortmund-Real.

  23. Anonymous19/4/13 22:47

    Fernández Borbalan es mejor arbitro que Mateu Lahoz. Además como persona lo aprecian mucho y el otro no lo quieren en ningún lado.

    1. Hm.. pero que yo sepa, Mateu Lahoz fue elegido como el mejor árbitro en la Primera División no?


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