September 19, 2013

Now We Ignore More

Are you used to losing all your faith into UEFA refereeing and parts of their referee committee? Yes? Then the following won't be anything new to you. No? Then be prepared, chain yourself to your chair to avoid that you will fall from it.

In Tuesday's UEFA Champions League match between Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen, the Slovenian referee team headed by Damir Skomina had a decisive blackout in the first goal scored by the English side.

Assistant Referee 1 Matej Žunič obviously failed to detect two offside positions in this situation. The first one, by Patrice Evra, was surely hard to see and could be ignored considering the "benefit of the doubt". Evra then passed the ball into the penalty area and found his team-mate Wayne Rooney, who scored with a volley. Rooney was clearly onside, no doubt. But what about the ManU forward Valencia having stood on the goalline and having clearly been closer to the goalline than the 2nd last defender? 

In the context of Law 11 on offside, the following definitions apply.

• "interfering with play" means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate

This does not apply for ManU forward Valencia. He did not play or touch the ball.

• "interfering with an opponent" means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent's line of vision or challenging an opponent for the ball

This does apply for ManU forward Valencia. He clearly prevented his opponent - in this case goalkeeper Leno - from being able to play the ball by challenging his opponent for the ball. Challenging an opponent for the ball requires physical interference (forward Valencia obviously touched goalkeeper Leno) and requires a playing distance of maximum 1 or 1,5 metres. Well, no doubt that this was by far less than a metre.
Here we can already stop going through the offside law. This goal was clearly scored from an active offside position. Practically, it is not only Žunič' mistake, but also Damir Skomina's and specially AAR1 Slavko Vinčić's error. It was not only a clear offside position - it was an obvious foul by Valencia on Leno in the goalkeeper's "territory area", i.e. the 5m-box. Slavko Vinčić looked somewhere else, probably he controlled Rooney, the player who received the ball. Well, Skomina had to do so, too, so that sharing responsibility certainly did not work properly in this situation. A quite clear error, isn't it? For sure, this was an error of perception that is human and can happen. So I stress it's not my intention to blame the officials for that too much.

Now the story starts: Pierluigi Collina and parts of his fealty have de facto ruled the decision to allow this goal as correct.
But why? There are several possible reasons.

1. It might be that Mr Collina has not understood the offside law. Well, that would be embarrassing. He indeed should have read my post from 30 June 2013.
2. Mr Collina has not understood that people exist who want to understand referees' decisions, who want to have an honest committee that analyzes mistakes in a clear and understandable manner putting positive pressure on their officials to learn from them and to improve in future. By the way, clubs and players do expect that as well.
3. Elite referee teams savour more protection than other referees.
4. Someone in the committee believes he has to protect his protégé.
5. We are facing a World Cup. We are currently being in the hot phase of the qualification for 2014 FIFA World Cup - and this does not only count for national teams, but for the referees as well. In fact there are more European referees who would deserve a participation in this tournament than available places allowed by FIFA. Every 7.9 means a minus on the referee's and assistant referee's palmarès, that's pretty clear.

Choose the reason you like most, please.

At any rate, I have lost every faith into the current management.


  1. Anonymous19/9/13 13:06

    I am abosultely not a lawyer of Mr. Collina, however I have to ask the following question - who are you? What are your achievements in the field of football refereeing? Are/were you a world class referee, are you going to be one in the future? Have you ever even whistled a football match, played football on a high level? Yes, no?


  2. Anonymous19/9/13 13:06

    How do you know that Collina forced the observer to consider the goal correct?

  3. Anonymous19/9/13 13:18

    Come on, criticize factual the post above and don't attack him personally. We all know that sth like that is normal in UEFA.

  4. Anonymous19/9/13 13:55

    I am not attacking anyone. I just believe that it is very easy to criticize from the chair in front of a computer or TV. I wonder how the author would perform in front of a full e.g. Old Trafford. And I also strongly believe that you have to be a referee/observer in the real life yourself and then earn the right to call for Pierluigi Collina's resignation.

    Best regards!


    1. Emil Archambault19/9/13 15:11

      Exactly; it is easy to write from behind a computer. However, I judge based on what I write, not on authority arguments. I have not been following this blog for very long, but I have read enough of it to know that its contents are of the highest quality. Niclas has again given us a well-researched, well-constructed argument. Judge on the content, not on the 'name'.

      Could you be more precise as to where you disagree? 1- That goal is clearly offside (I'd be embarrassed to miss such an offside on a U12 game). 2- Skomina clearly made an error. 3- Collina defends his referee against all evidence pointing to the contrary, and abuses his powers in order to protect Skomina and his team (assuming Niclas' reliable source to be correct).

      If that is the case, it is scandalous and tells us far more about Collina than about Skomina. I can live with a referee making huge mistakes, but not with a head referee that fails to conduct himself in an honest manner.

    2. Anonymous19/9/13 17:35

      I have been following the blog for a long time and I also admire the knowledge Niclas has about refereeing as well as his effort. However, I've been refereeing for 10 years, now in my nation's top division. In all these years I have learned a clashing difference between theory and practice. There are many people who seem to know everything, but at the same time wouldn't be able to keep 10 minutes of a football match under control. I also have no problems with constructive critic (am I NOT saying that Skomina's team haven't made an error), I'm just saying that Niclas (with all due respect) is NOT (yet?) an authority to question Collina's (in my opinion in many aspects good) work, to the extent which calls for his resignation. Collina was a world class referee and has earned my respect (and respect of many others) during many, many years of top class refereeing. Which doesn't apply (yet?) for anyone on this blog (I believe). A little more humble opinions are in order IMO.


    3. I just know that ignoring clear mistakes for political reasons is wrong. That is not "everything", but I do not remember to have claimed I would know even a small part of "everything". I am familiar with your argument for 2 years and with all due respect, I do not care about this one. If only people who are acting on the highest level (= UEFA level) had sth to say or were allowed to say sth, where would the independence be? My task in this blog is educating, at least I feel this as my task and many of this blog's community support that and act in the same way.
      Many many sources, who are independent from each other, are confirming that there is a difference between the referee Collina and the refereeing officer Collina. At some point, you cannot stay silent having heard many unsettling stories from different sides.
      You are right about the aspect about retirement. I deleted that and consider it, with some distance, as misplaced, too.

      But a question for you. My main point was not his retirement. My point was "Now we ignore more". What is your opinion on politically ignoring mistakes (does this happen with correct decisions against other officials then, too?) and fudging marks?

    4. Anonymous19/9/13 19:33

      Do not worry, I have experienced "politically influenced" marks, promotions/demotions etc. myself. I have never had a "menthor" who whould push me up the ladder, I achieved what I did on my own, contrary to many examples of "protegees" in my country. I stand behind you in claiming such politics is wrong.

      On the other hand - I am a lawyer who works at the court besides refereeing. In recent years I become somehow "annoyed" when heavy accusations are =ften) made without presenting clear evidence (which is in law very important). I'm not saying you don't have grounds for your claims or that you're making it up, but as it is easy to criticize from the keyboard, it is also easy to draw arguments based "just" on "reliable sources" (who are they, where are they, I don't know). From the viewpoint of a lawyer and a referee (and even from the viewpoint of Pierlugi Collina!) I would like to face those making such accusations. As someone has written below - what is an official position of UEFA in this matter?


    5. I doubt they would inform me about that in case of an official media query.
      The dilemma is that you depend on reliable sources who however have to stay confidential. I think you as a lawyer can easily understand me as kind of journalist that a journalist can never unveil his sources. I am aware that my credibility might suffer from that but I have no other chance.

    6. Anonymous20/9/13 09:19

      Ok. Don't see the connection between myself being a lawyer and understanding journalists, though. As I said - evidence counts. As a lawyer I can only report a lot of lawsuits and trials due to slander etc. "Reliable sources" are not a reason which would exclude civil or criminal culpability.

      Br, CK

    7. I believe that freedom of speech exists in most parts of Europe and trying to force a ban on speaking upon critical journalism or blogging is a no-go. Instead of flaming the provider of the bad news one should blame those who caused the bad news.

    8. Anonymous20/9/13 11:19

      Making public statements in a manner which could damage Collina's (or anyone else's) name and reputation, without providing clear grounds for such accusations (sic!), is a criminal offence in my country (as well as in Italy, as well as in Germany, I dare to presume). Freedom of speach ends when you are slandering someone without evidence.

      I understand this is a blog about refereeing, not about criminal law, so my debate ends here. This was just a friendy warning, if you choose to ignore it, that's your right.


    9. Anonymous20/9/13 11:28

      Ouh please this happen when you study too much law and loose connection to reality, slandering is something else...

    10. @ CK: Thanks, I have understood your point, nonetheless then we can finish critical journalism depending on confidential sources. I did not attack anyone personally but described a circumstance and gave my judgment. One might share my opinion, one might believe the story is wrong..

  5. Hello CK,
    I agree with you it is easy to criticize from the keyboard. In fact I hope it was outlined often times at this blog and also in this post that mistakes are human and should be analyzed in an according manner. Mistakes must be named and accepted. I did not attack any referee personally (contrary to Collina, following many sources..) but hope to clarify the new offside law by the analysis. The other part is that I got a 100% confirmation on this "behind the scenes"-story. Now I ask you: are you silent knowing that or do you say sth? The thing about influencing the observer is a logical consequence of this info, but stays a presumption. Therefore I used the term "probably". You might find the post exaggerated or out of place, it is your good right, but I hope you see the factual analysis focused on education and the circumstance of ignoring clear mistakes by the committee, for what purpose ever, on the other side.
    And to answer your question: I am a young referee who wants to understand decisions and who still believes that honestly and fairness can prevail over politics in refereeing.

  6. Anonymous19/9/13 14:08

    Good analysis of the situation itself; you can have different
    opinions on the committee, if that is would be hard.

  7. Anonymous19/9/13 15:40

    Something different, only counting if the news is reliable, what I think is sure, keeping in mind most is true when it appears on the blog:
    why is Thompson's AR Ross replaced for a comparable black-out but Slovenian AR is protected?

    1. Anonymous19/9/13 16:16

      Cause Collina and Sajn are ruling duo...

  8. Y don't want to be a lawyer Dr. Collina. Also, I've broken that word that I will not comment. I look at it like this:
    - thanks to Mr. Collina refereeing, as a segment of the football game, is where you are-at the very top of the ladder football game,
    - much worse the situation was before he arrived and it's a fact,
    - see how many of us connect the same subject- people of different ages, different characters, ways of thinking,
    - marketing and the role of referees in soccer before coming Dr. Collina was at a very low level,
    - should not be judged on the basis of one game or a few games of his work ( generally I think it works very well ),
    - in part I agree that it's easy to criticize from " the armchair ", but it's legitimate,
    - this blog should be at negative and positive examples because the only way we can maintain and even raise the level of refereeing,
    - IMO, the referees teams a lot of pressure because of the arrival of WC in Brazil, and
    - " XXX " would love to see themselves in the Collina's chair, but I think they haven't the charisma or quality, and we will have the same, or even worse situation.
    This is my opinion! Please just be patient, gentlemen.
    Best regards from Belgrade!

  9. Anonymous19/9/13 18:23

    Can anyone (maybe through the media) request an official point of view from UEFA?

  10. Anonymous19/9/13 20:15

    I would like to support Niclas after all the comments I read. Well it's assured that uefa is acting in a very political way for many years. Since Collina is in office, it became more. It is only good there is a third neutral/independent/critical side. See, we have the referees, the uefa commission. The uefa commission would not say anything and we would never get to know these things from them. And the referees may not break silence because they would fear their career. So please, we must be content that things like that today, if true of course, come to the public. Otherwise all those men in the committee could do what they like without serious organ of positive criticism. And actually I got to learn this blog as constructive, by far the most fair side which never blames the referees directly.

  11. I support also niclas

  12. Anonymous19/9/13 22:19

    You should have reliable sources to write that

    1. As I know Niclas, he has very reliable sources, if he writes something as hard as here. But I'm sure, everybody understands, that Niclas will not name his sources, if he wants to get any information again...

    2. Anonymous20/9/13 13:57

      I confirm the story was true which was narrated in the post...


  13. Anonymous20/9/13 13:10

    come on guys, it is clear that Niclas has internal sources directly from UEFA, he posts always observers and delegates many days prior to matches, othwerwise this post is a slander punishable by law. We must trust him

  14. Anonymous20/9/13 13:36

    Niclas, why did you back up and removed references to the presumed influence on the observer, if your source was reliable?

    1. Due to 2 reasons:
      Because it distracted from my original intent to analyze the situation itself as well as to criticize PLC for ignoring mistakes - my mistake taking into account the headline and style of writing. I hope you understand I am still learning, too :)

      Because of not being willing of getting into the discredit of defamation being unable / not allowed to give an evidence, as suggested by CK.
      Nonetheless I can only ensure you that my sources (not my source) are reliable.

  15. Anonymous20/9/13 16:37

    It is clear that decisions and rulings from UEFA referee committee (and PLC especially) are made based on who they wish to protect and keep and who they are happy to discredit and lose, rather than consistently applying their rulings regardless of persons or nationalities of match officials involved. If the above story is true then it is an ideal example of the conduct of PLC. Consider if the mistake at Old Trafford had been made by Thomson's Team of officials from Scotland - do you think PLC would make the same ruling and protect the officials? Of course not! It depends on who you are and where you're from.

    Thomson's assistants, among the best in Europe, are now in the wilderness - and Thomson is flirting with the wilderness while being forced by UEFA to work with a weakened team. Skomina and his team will be protected and supported - and we will see this time and again all season, to protect officials like Skomina, Proenca, Webb, Kuipers, Kassai, Eriksson, Cakir, Rizolli, Brych (if or when they need protected), while others like Thomson, Lannoy, Stark, Atkinson, Vellasco may not be so lucky.


Copyright © . The 3rd Team
Theme Template by BTDesigner · Powered by Blogger