Champions League

UEFA CL refs under scrutiny

2013-09-13 15:01
Referee (File)
Nyon - With a Soccer World Cup waiting at season's end, Europe's top referees know they are under intense scrutiny when the Champions League starts next week.

UEFA wants its match official teams to get more offside decisions correct after high-profile errors in its marquee club competition last season. Also, a new interpretation of the offside law has brought more potential for controversy.

The 19 European referees in contention for perhaps 10 tickets from FIFA to work in Brazil next year know any misjudgment could wreck their ambitions for the season.

"That is our life," Bjorn Kuipers of the Netherlands told The Associated Press in a recent interview about the pressure referees face.

"Of course, FIFA will look at Champions League or Europa League matches," said Kuipers, who worked the Brazil v Spain Confederations Cup final in June. "It's good that they follow you in the whole season."

FIFA is expected to announce in January which teams of match officials - a referee and the two assistants he works with regularly - have been selected for World Cup duty.
Until then, European referees will be in the middle of Champions League group stage action where most World Cup stars perform for their clubs.

Last season, controversial goals in the quarter-finals saw offside calls replace goal-line decisions as a major talking point.

"Certainly there were some mistakes, I can't say everything was perfect," Pierluigi Collina, UEFA chief refereeing officer, acknowledged at a briefing during a training seminar for elite match officials.

A Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal for Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg against Barcelona ultimately did not deny the Spanish side a semi-final place.

However, in a chaotic, thrilling end to the Borussia Dortmund v Malaga second leg, all three late goals in the Germans' 3-2 victory appeared to be offside on TV replays.

"If we want to be considered reliable and credible, we can't say nothing happened," Collina said. "It is much more important to say something happened and work on it and try to ensure nothing is repeated."

The Italian former referee - the most respected of his generation who handled finals of the 1999 Champions League and 2002 World Cup - showed reporters how UEFA uses video technology to help assistants hone positioning and judgment in repeated drills of borderline calls.

Collina estimates there are 1 300 offside calls in a Champions League season, and officials' judgment will probably be questioned even more as teams and fans get to grips with new nuances in football's Law 11.

Now, attackers receiving the ball while standing in offside positions are not committing an offence if they did not challenge for the ball, but received it from a "deliberate act" such as a misplaced backpass.

Collina said the key is weighing if the defending team's final touch is a "deliberate act or instinctive reaction."

Serbian referee Milorad Mazic, one of UEFA's elite category referees and a World Cup candidate, said the change adds responsibility to his assistants.

"Maybe it's a little bit harder for the assistants, but it's better for football," Mazic said.

To help teach the assistants, Collina employs his two World Cup final colleagues: Philip Sharp of England and Leif Lindberg of Sweden. Their job is to find reasons underlying the mistakes.

"There is always a reason," Collina said. "I can't accept that someone justifies a mistake by saying, 'I am unlucky.' He's not a gambler."

And while UEFA keeps private any criticism, Collina's judgment becomes evident when an officiating team gets no further assignments in a competition or tournament.

"Immediately after the game we are analysed by the observer," Serbian ref Mazic said. "We are aware (of mistakes). Even if you are not aware immediately on the pitch."

Slovenian referee Damir Skomina, a leading contender for most major assignments, insists that referees' criticism of themselves is more important than public opinion.

"I need to be honest until the end with myself immediately after the match," Skomina said. "I don't give a lot of attention to what the world says in the media."

Read more on:    champions league  |  soccer

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Tuesday, 13 February 2018
Basel v Manchester City, TBA 21:45
Juventus v Tottenham Hotspur, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Real Madrid v PSG, TBA 21:45
Porto v Liverpool, TBA 21:45
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
Chelsea v Barcelona, TBA 21:45
Bayern Munchen v Besiktas, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma, TBA 21:45
Sevilla v Manchester United, TBA 21:45
Tuesday, 06 March 2018
PSG v Real Madrid, TBA 21:45
Liverpool v Porto, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 07 March 2018
Manchester City v Basel, TBA 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Juventus, TBA 21:45
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Which English Premier League club will progress furthest in this season's Champions League?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.