August 18, 2012

Olympic findings

Retrospectively summarized, the recently expired XXX Olympic Games at London were a total success, for the athletes, the billions of fans watching them all over the world and naturally also the games' sponsors. It was furthermore quite refreshing that there are still global sport events that can be held in a politically uncritical state, which will probably stay a rarity with regard to FIFA and UEFA being exceptionally talented concerning allocating World Cups and European Championships. 
As expected, the Olympic football tournament was quite overshadowed by the huge amount of other events. The football played at these Games was overall not at the highest level, tactically considered, it was even quite weak so that open matches with many goals were made possible. Considering the Olympic football refereeing, there are also some aspects to highlight that might be summarized in brief.

The appointment procedure
FIFA has again underlined the rule of confederation neutrality. If the teams that encounter each other are from two different confederations (AFC, CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, OFC, UEFA), the referee and the team around him definitely come from another confederation. This rule was first established at 2010 FIFA World Cup and then applied at every following FIFA competition. The aim is probably to bolster the officials' formal neutrality, there practical neutrality is naturally guaranteed at any rate. As I have frequently stated before, this principle puts more obstacles in FIFA's and their committee's way than it of use, because not the best referee at the tournament is selected for a specific match, but the best referee who may referee this match. Another novelty is Ravshan Irmatov's appointment for the third place match between Japan and Korea Republic. All the three involved parties came from AFC zone. Normally, only UEFA officials may referee matches between two nations from their own confederation. It once happened that Martin Vazquez of Uruguay refereed Brazil - Argentina, also at Olympic Games (in 2008).

A lack in the evaluation system
Contrary to UEFA's and this blog's referee evaluation system, FIFA does neither know terms like important mistakes, nor crucial mistakes, nor poor control. If a referee makes a mistake with match decisive or influencing character, he should get a low mark as the adequate consequence, that is at least my conviction. FIFA only splits the performance into five classifications (very good, good, satisfactory, poor and very poor) and additionally defines the difficulty of the match (low, medium and high). It is therefore the observer's assessment whether a crucial mistake still allows a good mark or not. 
Wembley's final referee Mark Clattenburg missed a kung-fu-kick committed by a Senegalese defender into his Mexican opponent's face. He only issued a yellow card, despite of the fact that Simon Beck, his second assistant, obviously saw this situation (see video attached). This situation happened in the quarterfinals. FIFA's referee committee at London, having consisted of Carlos Batres of Guatemala at its peak and probably supervised by Massimo Busacca, obviously drew its own conclusion. Mark Clattenburg was ready for an Olympic final, after one decent group stage match of low difficulty and a crucial mistake in a quarterfinal. Perhaps it is an illness of English referees to show no red cards in situations that MUST entail them, remembering Howard Webb in several situations including 2010 FIFA World Cup final and 2011/12 UEFA Champions League semifinal. As long as there are no adequate consequences for that, there is little reason to change that. The same counts for Uzbekistan's Ravshan Irmatov, who showed a weak performance in his first group stage encounter including a match influencing mistake, when he and Bakhadyr Kochkarov missed a very clear penalty to Great Britain. Irmatov and his team were allowed to stay until the end, while German official Brych was sent home after this blog's best evaluated performance of the whole tournament (9,3) and the quarterfinal between Brazil and Honduras, which unfolded a high difficulty and where he made two doubtful decisions. 

The "Rodríguez-memory-match"
After Marco Rodríguez performance in 2010 FIFA World Cup's group H encounter between Chile and Spain, where the Mexican official had no control at all with the tense atmosphere, FIFA made the same decision again, only a week later. Carlos Batres of Guatemala was in charge of the quarterfinal tie between Paraguay and Spain. Again, no control. One may not generalize Latin teams and referees from a certain region either, but in the end, FIFA could have been warned that Latin-American referees are not the best choices for matches between Spain and a Latin-American team. Venezuela's Juan Soto showed by far the worst performance of the whole tournament, establishing an Olympic record with 13 issued yellow cards. Most of them were correct, but in the end, he nearly had less than zero control, missed a penalty to Spain and did not caution verbal and violent attacks by Spanish players on himself. Why did I know that it would eventuate in that kind of match? Why did not FIFA know it? Nonetheless, there is no need to shift responsibility to FIFA. A referee who wants to join a World Cup must keep that mob under control. It is therefore not FIFA's fault, but it is the players' and referee team's fault. FIFA only made the mistake to appoint him at all for this match. The consequence was at least clear, Soto left the tournament after group stage and doubts must be raised whether he will attend the next meeting of prospective referees for 2014 World Cup at Zürich.

The "Nishimura problem"
Again, Japanese Yuichi Nishimura certainly counted to the top3 of referees with the best performances at the tournament, however, like at 2011 AFC Asian Cup, he did not get any K.O. stage match. Thanks to the visible progress of Japanese football, their national teams reached a lot at both tournaments, but in both cases, it is not really understandable why the respective federations AFC and FIFA did not decide to appoint him for a quarterfinal (although, at Olympic Games, the assortment was not that big in quarterfinals, he could have only refereed Brazil - Honduras).

OFC referees are still only suitable for one match
Peter O'Leary is an Oceanian hope to finally reach something more than referees like Michael Hester: more than one group stage match at a World Cup. Nobody should deny the big efforts undertaken by the responsibles to push O'Leary and his crew (Jan-Hendrik Hintz and Ravinesh Kumar), to bring them closer to the international standard. But in the end, they did not manage it. O'Leary's performance in UA Emirates - Uruguay rather confirms FIFA's policy during the last years, giving them not too much. One may question whether OFC referees should participate in a World Cup at all, at least after this performance.

African referees can hold the others' pace
After many disappointing appearances by African referees at previous World Cups and FIFA tournaments in general, Gambia's talent Bakary Gassama and Tunisia's Slim Jedidi have made an enormous progress. Both managed to show satisfying performances and specially Gassama showed a lot of potential for more. His performance in Brazil - New Zealand did not only mean that a referee has received the same team twice in the group stage, which is quite untypical, but also contained a correctly taken crucial decision, when he sent a Brazilian off due to simulation.

Simulation consistently punished
Three significant dives have been detected by the Olympic referees. It started with Wilmar Roldán sending off a Suisse striker for a dive that was quite easy to detect, since the situation occurred in his free area of vicinity and since there was no contact at all. Svein Moen's and Bakary Gassama's decisions were harder to take. In either instance, there was a contact, but the players simply decided to fall too lately. They correctly and bravely detected that, which might have been an instruction to the referees before the tournament.
On the whole, the disciplinary management has been quite good, specially because there was a clear and consistent line in all the matches. The referees' approach was mostly lenient, offering the players room for hard but fair football, but inevitable bookings were directly issued.

With the Olympic Games having closed on last Sunday, the next Olympiad has commenced awaiting 2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro.

Remark: A document containing statistics about FIFA tournaments and these Olympic Games will follow in due course.

Overview with useful statistics and marks


  1. Anonymous18/8/12 21:59

    for elite turkish referees cuneyt cakir

  2. Niclas, great as always.

    Benfica - Braga is a match that must be reported. I have recorded it and report will follow soon. Many yellow cards, penalty brilliantly detected by Rui Licinio, but also huge mistake in this situation. Soares Dias after consultation booked wrong player for which it was second yellow and in consequence red card...

  3. Disciplinary Board of the FPF opened disciplinary proceedings Luisao. The Disciplinary Process was classified as "urgent".


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