May 15, 2014

Beto's Irregular Penalty Save(s) Tarnish Brych's Europa League Final

After an intense Europa League final night in Turin with a piece of widely poor football that was however fueled by a lot of passion right from the start, it is time to reflect Felix Brych's performance briefly. The technical analysis will follow in form of the referee observers' report to be uploaded in due course.

Priority no.1 in every Iberian duel is to maintain as much control as possible. And this is more easily said than done. As indicated, both sides started nervously, Sevilla even quite roughly into the game. Felix Brych tried it with a sensible and stepwise strategy based on discreet and public warnings already after 90 seconds and some minutes later. This set his line for the match. In 12' and 13', two yellow cards were justifiably issued - he had no other chance. They were mandatory and almost orange. Sevilla were slightly furious both on the field of play and on the seats since their team were already 0:2 behind in terms of cautions. The referee used the chance to tactically balance this later on when cautioning Siqueira. No necessary caution, but it underlined that Team Brych followed a clear plan and retrospectively considered, this fully worked. All players calmed down after this most difficult part of the whole match. Therefore the Dr. in law succeeded in really "managing" this match.

The penalty appeals: What should be emphasized is that we saw that Gaitán and Lima received small but maybe decisive contacts in 45+2' and 56' after the third super-slowmotions  - replays from viewing angles that the match officials could only dream of in real-time. However, not every contact is a foul and the referee relied on his better positioned (A)ARs in these occasions. For me these decisions were perfectly taken - but I won't go into deeper discussion at this point. It is clear that in at least these two cases there is room for discussion. And everybody has his own interpretation of these situations and that's fine - my interpretation is that, in both situations, you should let play flow if you understand this game, the reasons for the attackers to fall and if you have already experienced such moments yourself on the pitch. Maybe the circumstance that even Jorge Jesús (!) did not produce a negative echo after the match in terms of that should make us think, too.

The mental and physical challenge. More than 120 minutes of high-pace football (although it was not technically sophisticated at all) and a strange arc of suspense exposed remarkable challenges for the referee and his teammates. Brych had to keep a cool mind all match long, there was practically never a long moment to take breath. Probably Brych, Borsch and Lupp will face similar scenarios in Brazil next month. Besides a couple of smaller mistakes, they accomplished this mental mission in a good way. Same goes for the physical aspects. Even though all actors including Felix Brych became a bit slower in the extra-time, there were no problems. Positioning and movement were much improved compared to his previous matches.

So far, so good. But the real problem came after the match time had already been finished. We all know that Benfica's first penalty saved by Sevilla goalkeeper Beto should have been repeated. As the screenshot unfolds, he was standing 2 metres in front of the goalline and for this reason, he saved the ball.

The Laws of the Game are unequivocally clear. Law 14 makes clear that the goalkeeper has to be positioned on the goalline between both goal-posts facing the attacker until the ball is moving forward. There is no room for interpretation. This penalty kick - and probably the second saved penalty - should have been repeated. And then, who knows whether Sevilla really had won the trophy... Two additional assistant referees, who are supposed to monitor the goalline only, obviously did not see more than the referee who had to concentrate on the ball's movement and penalty taker.

By the way - what makes me doubt is that in Zenit St Petersburg - FC Porto and Atlético Madrid - Austria Wien (UCL group stage 2013/14), similar incidents were equally ignored. UEFA should put this on their agenda. It surprises me that they have apparently not done so before.

In the Europa League final's case, I am actually sure that all of them were aware of what had happened.
Maybe there was a lack of concentration for the unexpected, maybe they were mentally already in the dressing room, maybe they had no courage to intervene in this decisive dimension, maybe they just wanted to have this final finished without bigger trouble - nobody protested.. I can partly even feel with them. But, for sure, these saved penalties decided this season's Europa League champions, are the core of criticism one has to put forward and the main impression that will stay in our minds. In the end, it unfortunately tarnished a very nice performance.


  1. Huge class from Jorge Jesus who has every right to be furious at the referees, but he is not and made very balanced statement. However, he thinks penalty in 56' should've been whistled.


  2. Anonymous15/5/14 19:54

    "(...) tarnished a very nice performance"?? Geez! It's just your view, ok, but it bothers me reading something like "nice performance" (albeit "tarnished" by a brazen error) when it comes to assessing Brych's work.
    In my opinion, the German refereeing team projected a bad image of the European refereeing. Especially because of the blunder involving the so-called save in the PSO. The match was intense? Yes it was indeed. And what about Juventus-Benfica in that same stadium? If we compare Clattenburg team with Brych team, then we'll immediately draw some insightful conclusions!

    1. Indeed it is a subjective opinion, UEFA will draw their own opinion, you have your impressions, so where is the problem.
      Yes let me draw one insightful conclusion: Clatts partly lost control, Brych had control for 120 minutes. That is indeed insightful.

    2. Apologies about the Clatts report. It should be in tomorrow.

    3. Anonymous15/5/14 23:44

      Niclas, Brych had control for 120 minutes? It's your opinion. Nothing more! I take issue with that. Brych's brazen errors were seen by everyone. It's not something subjective at all. Now forget you are German and try to elaborate on Brych's work.

      PS: From your last comment, I'm compelled to say you really need to look up the meaning of "insightful".

    4. Anonymous15/5/14 23:57

      By the way, former Spanish referee Iturralde González (an expert) discussed Brych's work in a Spanish football programme declaring there were two missed penalties throughout the 120 minutes and pointing out that Brych should have sent off 2 players. Obviously the panel looked into Beto's saves and burst out laughing. Notice they are all Spanish. But they are not blind!

    5. Anonymous16/5/14 02:25

      The football programme where Iturralde spoke is named 'Tiki-Taka'.
      Everybody knows that Brych is a wonderful referee, but imho that should not skew the analysis of this specific match.
      As Chefren pointed out Sevilla was lucky in the semi-finals with Skomina's team mistake. It seems they were also lucky with Brych's team mistakes, and perhaps also lucky with Rocchi's team mistake (penalty) at the quarter-finals.
      Last year, we saw a perfect work at the Europa League Final by Kuipers. What a difference...

    6. I don't understand the culture of discussion some people seem to have. It is shocking to see that 3 years of independent and hard work for this blog cannot avoid that subjective but honest points of view are considered as bias due to nationality interests. Really. Leave this blog, anonymous no.1. I don't need to invest hours of work for such forms of defamation. That has little to do with bearing other opinions like our friend Williams suggested last month but is a sole impudence.
      There is not the one truth, you have not found it and I did not find it either... - I welcome comments like the last anonymous put forward with all emphasis and I fully agree on your second sentence.

      I also believe that it is not sensible to quote former referees like Senor Iturralde who have often enough proven they were unable to control even the first 20 minutes of a normal match and who find more interest in talking to the media publicly than to educate referees etc.. For sure they are not blind but you cannot transfer Spanish interpretations of refereeing to entire Europe. At the same time I recognize other points of view and they are justified (56' - by now I also tend to prefer a penalty kick here), but I cannot understand a penalty claim in 45+2'. Could you tell me where he missed two red cards? Ok, in 45+2' when he gives penalty (which he didn't), but the other one? Generally there was a clear advice on Mallorca last January when DFB had their meeting and preparation for the referees: only whistle 100% clear penalties. Maybe the officials involved were not 100% sure and followed this guideline. This does not make it better if penalties are clear, I don't want to say that, but if they had doubts, that would be a theory to explain the decision-taking process. Maybe.

    7. Anonymous16/5/14 15:00

      I thought whilst I was watching the match on Wednesday that I saw something new, something fresh something we as refs and former refs all agree on.... What I saw was a badge attached to the players and refs outfit. One simple word RESPECT. We can discuss here in this forum, we can agree to disagree we can even get angry sometimes but the basis for all of this is RESPECT. Lets us all follow the rule of common sense in how we debate and disagree... but at least RESPECT some ones opinion without doubting integrity or make reference to bias. Niclas as mentioned before we don't always agree but Im thank full for this place were we can discuss with RESPECT. Regards RC

    8. Anonymous16/5/14 15:21

      Hear hear! I agree completely!

      /Swedish observer

    9. Anonymous16/5/14 16:09

      If we talk about respect I have something to say, too. Reading your German words, Niclas, it is confirmed that you are biased. Brych the best because German. Iturralde not good because Spanish. You are better than him and you have this big experience to talk about that. How many years as FIFA referee have you spent in your long career? I think you should be more humble and judicious in your remarks, even more when you talk about a Former FIFA ref. He can talk on TV when he wants. Does that mean he is not good? Or, is that forbidden? Please learn to hear from people who surely know things more than you. Now my only hope is to read a neutral report. Regards from Spain.

    10. Dear Anonymous,
      I have known Niclas for more than 2 years. I can assure that he is not biased. He evaluates the performance of each referee without looking at his nationality. That's sure. There are many examples of that. He never had problems in admitting that Stark EURO tournament was not the best, just to make an example.
      Furthermore, I don't know why he should have something against Spain. Please weight your words, prior to write such things... the big work made by Niclas until now in this blog is remarkable, there is no need to add something more.
      Everybody is entitled to have a different opinion: if he thinks that Brych performance was good, he has the full right to do that.
      As for the report, that's sure. No need to ask for that.

    11. Anonymous16/5/14 17:29

      I agree a little bit on both Niclas and other anonymous guy. As for the kicks from the mark saves by Bento...the kickers took stutter steps, is this not against LOTG too? Thats why I think Brych and team did nothing. It was fair.

    12. Dear anonymous, keep in mind that the referees were reminded on allowing feinting as a part of football in the run-up. So these stutter steps were in line with the LotG although we can discuss whether it was really "fair".

    13. Anonymous16/5/14 19:39

      Niclas, you show a tremendous lack of respect toward a former FIFA referee. Well, let me tell you I'm looking forward to your career as a referee. You simply have no arguments to defend a patchy performance by your favorite referee and you spitefully criticize someone with years and years of experience at the higheste level. YES, BRICH FLOPPED BLATANTLY, everyone across the world saw his errors and is discussing that. Brych's team really gave a bad image of the refereeing team (allowing those irregular saves is an error FOR THE AGES, apart from the missed penalties) and even if it gets under your skin, that's the truth. "Tiki Taka" is a renowned football programme in Spain and in other parts of the world owing to its credibility! Do you know how they built it? They are neutral and they go over any issue with the same approach regardless of the nationality of the people involved. Try to respect those who know much much more than you!

    14. Anonymous16/5/14 19:56

      Your discussion won't find an end if you go on like this.
      As RC said there is no doubt about the integrity of all members of this blog. Their values they set into refereeing were displayed multiple times in posts such as the 'now we.... more' series or the recent discussion about the observer controversies in UEL.
      What I read in your comments, Spanish man, are two distinct cores: 1. You accuse Niclas of being "biased". You further said "it is confirmed that you are biased". These are pert and disrespectful words, my friend. Think about that. You are in the world wide web where nobody can physically confront you, but never forget there are humans behind the screen which you publicly defame. 2. You said that Brich [BrYch] "blatantly flopped", that "everybody in the world saw it". You asked 7 billion people? Wow. In my opinion he indeed missed a penalty kick. Or rather his AAR. And no discussion about the PSO. A no-go. But no mistake "for ages". Just a human mistake which is explicable.

      To draw a line: I can ensure you that UEFA was content with this performance. Similarly I think that 7.9 is suitable. What you are doing anonymous is destroying the reputation of the blog. But be sure. You won't succeed. And for Niclas I have only the tip to not react to every troll on this blog. You don't have to do that :-)

      Respectful Regards.

    15. Anonymous16/5/14 20:10

      If UEFA is content with his performance, well that is another issue that would take us to another level of discussion. As for the reputation of the blog. I guess many people have already drawn their conclusions. You don't decide it. To finish it off, your reply is pitiful.
      And I agree with the anonymous saying it's a mistake "for ages". It is indeed.

    16. My final word and then I am silent, anonymous :)

      You are on a wrong track to focus on a blogger and not a referee performance - but ok: please tell me where my advantage is to be "corporatist" or "biased" in matches with Dr. Felix Brych.

      Juan, then please draw your conclusions and leave it. Why are you still here...?

    17. Anonymous16/5/14 20:29

      I'll leave for sure. Let me just tell your blog is a bit known in Spain and the reputation is nothing short of terrible. If it pleases you, perfect! You can't go much further jajaja


    18. Anonymous16/5/14 21:26

      The reputation of this blog in Spanish circles must be poor. You know why? Because it outlines that Spain has a deep problem with refereeing at the moment. So Niclas, Chefren, Edward and co... don't worry.

    19. Dear gentlemen, as members of football community we should all RESPECT each other in our communication, be it formal or informal. We have right to our opinions and that is why I like this blog (and besides it is in English) and although I have disagreed with Niclas on several occasions I highly respect his efforts and contribution to spreading knowledge on refereeing. If it counts, I do not find him biased and yes, besides the Beto saved penalty, I believe the Brych team committed another mistake when not awarding penalty kick for Benfica.

  3. What do you all think about that stamp on goallie's knee in 61st minute? Accident, reckless play or deliberate act? I think, it's worthy of discussion. It looked really brutal from last two replays.

    1. Anonymous16/5/14 17:20


    2. Anonymous16/5/14 19:39

      Deliberate act.

  4. U-17 Semi-final appointments have been released:

    1. A post will follow soon.

      Here, an overall impression by Marc Batta about the spray used at U17:

      Furthermore, Kazakh referee Artyom Kuchin seems back on international scene after a long-time absence, nice assignment for him in U21 Euro 2015 qualifying:
      England - Wales derby

  5. Anonymous16/5/14 15:52

    IMO speaking about 2 missed penalties and 2 missed red cards is ridiculous.
    You can never whistle a penalty in any of the described situations. In a EL final esp. at 0:0 you give only a penalty when it is 100 or even 1000% clear. The penalty appeals here weren't even 50:50 decisions...
    as for the saved penalty in the pso: 999 out of 1000 european topflight referees would not have disallowed the save!

    1. Anonymous16/5/14 21:48

      Ridiculous is your opinion. At least two penalties are clear and everyone has already figured out you know nothing about refereeing. 50/50 decisions???? It's actually laughable! Always the same empty and senseless argument. Perhaps you're in need of taking a refereeing course!
      "as for the saved penalty in the pso: 999 out of 1000 european topflight referees would not have disallowed the save!". This sentence is absurd! OF COURSE a high-level referee (which Brych isn't in my view) would have disallowed the brazenly irregular save. Perhaps you also hold that the ghost goal Brych awarded in Bundesliga was regular after all. Come on, try to think about what you say.

  6. I thought that in kicks from the mark goal-keeper movement was the responsibility of the referee, with the assistants acting as goal judges only- as opposed to kicks during normal time, where the referee has to deal with encroachment and hands responsibility for keeper movement to the assistants. The article suggests the assistants were responsible for keeper movement - I think this is incorrect.

    1. You are right. According to the practical information for match officials, both AARs have to be focused on the goalline to check whether a goal is scored or not. The referee should concentrate on the penalty kick taker and ball, the AR must monitor the 2nd last defender line to check whether there was encroachment. But then there is a problem in the system. Who should then monitor the goalkeeper, please? The only solution would be, IMO, to distribute responsibilities between both AARs, one concentrates on the goalkeeper, the other on the goalline, while this would mean that one side of the goalline could be obstructed for the AAR responsible for the checking whether a goal was scored or not. Well.. I think that's called diffusion of responsibilities.

      @ anonymous: I agree, but concerning your estimated number of 999/1000 - this does not make it much better from my point of view, rather vice versa..

    2. Please .... You say that the AR that are on the line can not see the progress of the goalkeeper. This is a testament of stupidity to the AR, people not capable do to more than one thing at a time

    3. Anonymous16/5/14 19:13

      "This is a testament of stupidity to the AR, people not capable do to more than one thing at a time.", says somebody not capable to read comments and analysis rightfully! The Liverman and Niclas were showing formal responsibilities of the officials. Not more, not less, damn..

  7. Sorry but I do not agree at all with your analysis. You say that the yellow card shown to siqueira was a correct measure in an attempt to control the game. This is only justifiable in view of the defense of the referee, not what actually happens.
    I admit the penalties are difficult to evalueate for the referee, but analyzing the images the penalties are clear. The error can not be attributed directly to Felix, but the AR (behind the goal) have a completely clear view of the play that occurred in their alignment.
    With direct or indirect responsibility for these decisions, it can never claim that arbitration was good. What seemed to me that the referee missed during the game, was the courage to take a decision that could decide the final. Not doing was worse than having whistel a situation that you say are debatable.

    PS-With every consideration, your analysis seems very corporatist.

  8. Anonymous16/5/14 19:17

    I'm a referee observer in my national association and having years of international observation behind me. So I know the guidelines. The accurate mark is 7.9 (8.4). Good performance - penalty shoot-out-management is a crucial mistake. Refer to Anonymous identity at 3:52 P.M., he got it right, no penalty kicks. Never.

    1. Anonymous16/5/14 20:34

      With simular credentials I came to the same conclusion. 8.4 (7.9). And I can assure you I have no national relationship with Dr. Brych whatsoever..... :-)
      Regards RC

    2. Hm... I'm a bit surprised with what you wrote: ' penalty kicks. Never.", especially considering this situation from 56th minute.

      Now let's turn the situation around. Felix Brych points to the penalty spot in 45+2', 56' and 59'. I guess that you, as observer, would've backed the referee, what is a standard move by assessors (and it's good). Would've backed him, because in each of those situations there were strong basis to whistle a foul:

      45+2' - Slide tackle centrally from behind with hitting opponent's leg at first, then clearing the ball; careless tackle and DOGSO if we take LoTG literally.

      56' - Here it's clear for me that a fouled player's fall doesn't matter and it was simply carless tackle without playing the ball and hitting an opponent's leg instead; clear foul everywhere outside the box, but are the LoTG different inside the penalty area? However, I wouldn't agree with Mr. Iturralde Gonzalez, who states it should be a second yellow card / red card here. No recklessness, no stopping a promising attack for me.

      59' - In Poland the national level referees are obliged to interpret the handball as deliberate. Why? Because a defending player made so called defensive intervention and took all the risk on himself. The ball hit the hand that slightly increased a body surface and it's the risk you take, wanting to block a shot or center. And I will say it's a penalty, because in Poland it is penalty and I really like this interpretation to be honest.

      Those are three interpretation with which you don't necessarily agree, but you have to agree that arguments are really strong for penalties. It illustrates that everybode can have a different opinion (of course) and saying all of those situations are penalties is reasonable.

      OK, now about discussion culture aspect. We all want to debate in a friendly manner. We don't want a war everytime when someone has different opinion than blog author or majority. I even called Niclas 'biased' in a hot comment after the game only because he had (or still have?) the name Brych as his favourite referee at I was too harsh and want to apologize.

      For Spanish user: calm down a bit and shake your hand with Niclas (even virtually) and take a part in further discussions without referring to person, but more for on-field incidents.

      For Niclas: your words about Graham Poll in the past and now about Iturralde Gonzalez were non-respectful and shouldn't be said publicly. The same with referring to 'three yellow cards' incident and 'being unable to control even the first 20 minutes of a normal match and finding more interest in talking to the media publicly than to educate referees' were also wrote as hot comment and it should've been avoided. Both Poll and Iturralde Gonzalez were really good referees who reached the top and it makes no sense to point their mistakes to discredit your opponent in discussion. You can say in example that Brych has no right because he missed a goal in Bundesliga. It's absurd and you know it for sure. :)

    3. Hubert, no problem. You are right that discrediting Iturralde was a mistake from my side (let me say I stick to my criticism on Graham Poll in the way I issued it, but that is another story). We should wait for the report. Edward and Thomas will need some time until Sunday, probably.

    4. Anonymous16/5/14 21:42

      Niclas, completely OT..... when I press the contact button I get a summary blogs but no contact possibilities..... :-) Regards RC

    5. RC here:

    6. Thanks for this remark! It is fixed. You can use one of the opportunities, I welcome you on both ways.

  9. For interested users, here is the programme with Iturralde Gonzalez:


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