October 8, 2015

UEFA provides Additional Assistant Referees with new Signalling Guideline

Although the Additional Assistant Referee (AAR) system has established in UEFA's top competitions in the last couple of years, one constantly uttered criticism still is their perceived inactivity and passivity at the goallines. Those "robots" at the goallines, who seemed to have been paid for just standing there and watching football from the best position for a long time, have now received a new guideline from UEFA's Refereeing Chief Officer Pierluigi Collina.

For a long time, AARs were circumscribed as "extra pairs of refereeing eyes" the referee can make use of. However, they had never been intended to serve as extra pairs of hands. UEFA's guidelines for AARs had clearly stated that an AAR would "refrain from using any type of hand signals". Information between him and the referee had been supposed to be "passed to the referee by means of the radio communication system".

By and by, this straitjacket was eased by UEFA. The Laws of the Game (2015/16, page 86) now allow AARs to deploy discreet hand signals which might "give valuable support to the referee" in some instances. The meaning of this signal "should be discussed in the pre-match discussion". 

So far, so good. Some AARs, e.g. Danny Makkelie's team-mates at U-21 EURO 2015, applied this new directive quite freely, even pointing the electronical signal beep flagstick (for the purpose of simplicity we will call it "beepstick" in the following) towards the corner-flag when a corner-kick decision had to be taken in AAR proximity.

The last UEFA Champions League matchday has shown that this is obviously not enough. There have been at least three Goal-/No-Goal-Decisions in London, Munich and Mönchengladbach, where correct decisions were taken, but with a different degree of acceptance and clarity in the respective incident's aftermath.

In advance: French AAR1 Fredy Fautrel did take the correct decision and did detect that the ball had already entered the goal. While referee Clément Turpin did not react immediately and Fautrel's movement does not indicate a goal that clearly (no eye-contact, the body not turned to the referee, instead of that a bowed sprint towards the goal), the audio clip proofs that Fautrel shouted    "GOAL - .......... - GOAL GOAL GOAL and so on" into the micro - as sources confirmed.

Please watch the following clip.

The first example clearly shows the most efficient form of communicating a close Goal-Decision to the referee, players, supporters and, last but not least, TV spectators. 

In an internal communiqué released this week, Collina asked all AARs to use their stretched, left arm perpendicular to the goalline pointing the beepstick towards the centre of the field of play as done by Danny Makkelie in Arsenal-Olympiakos (1st clip). Of course, the goal must also be communicated via micro. He indicated that the IFAB has been asked to implement the following text into their revised Laws of the Game:

"When the AAR has assessed that the ball has wholly crossed the goal line within the goal, he must:

- immediately inform the referee via the communication system that a goal should be awarded

- make a clear signal with the left arm perpendicular to the goal line pointing towards the centre of
  the field (flagstick in the left hand is also required).

The referee will make the final decision."

According to sources, the IFAB has already confirmed the proposal lodged by UEFA.

Back to the videos: Makkelie should be praised for his efficient and empathic reaction to the (natural) protests of the goalkeeper and defenders. By showing the approximate distance between goal and goalline, complaints and doubts were immediately diffused (0:26 in the video).

In the 2nd clip, referee Aleksei Kulbakov reacts quite late to the AAR input. Also here, a great decision was taken, but the AAR should demonstrate more firmness and a change in his movement to demonstrate the goal - and, in future, he should use his beepstick pointed towards the centre of the field of play.

The 3rd video speaks for itself and was already discussed.

All video incidents show the need to be concentrated by 100%. Specially at corner-kicks, where many goals are scored from the attacker's heads with some players close to or even on the goalline, AARs should be perfectly positioned (head on the goalline) and stay alert. In the Europa League match between Tottenham and Qarabag, an AAR showed, for example, this positioning during a corner-kick that resulted in a goal:

This screenshot shows the necessity to be accurately, but sometimes also flexibly positioned on the goalline. On the one hand, the AAR should be reminded on his accurate position. Being half a metre or almost a metre behind the goalline can lead to incorrect decisions with regard to Goal-/No-Goal-Decisions. On the other hand, this is a good example where a defender would have potentially obstructed his line of sight if there had been a crucial and thin Goal-/No-Goal-Decision to take.  

We will see whether UEFA is about to implement video technology for EURO 2016 which would mean that AARs can focus more on incidents within the penalty area. 

As a first step, UEFA at least reacted to the misunderstanding within the "football community" as Collina has described it and allowed their AARs more freedom of movement. A good move, as this will very likely lead to more acceptance and clarity by quicker and more efficient decisions and will humanize (and at the same time 'de-robotize') AARs. In my view, it however does not change that placing another human on the goalline will not circumvent human limits in perception and physical laws of obstructed lines of sight. Last week, there were some very good decisions - in future, Goalline Technology might turn out to be more helpful and needed though.

video by


  1. Why are the AAR on the same side of the goal instead of the opposite side? That would give you the opportunity for a pair of eyes on the goal line on both sides of the goal.


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