February 18, 2010

Ref justice

Posted by Dave Roberts on 18/02/2010

The UEFA Champions League is supposed to be the best club competition of the world, containing the best clubs on the globe, administrated by the strongest of all confederations - so how on earth do we continue to see refereeing controversies that would embarrass those with a whistle on a Sunday morning?

Centre stage yet again was Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo. The nemesis of Chelsea in the semi-final second leg against Barcelona last year, he'll now not be getting any Christmas cards from Munich or Florence this December either.

Okay, he was let down very badly by an assistant who desperately needs a trip to Specsavers. Miroslav Klose's winning goal was so far offside to allow it was as near slapstick as you'll get on the field. To be honest my sides are still hurting. Perhaps the liner thought Klose was a ballboy he was so far away from other players, who knows.

Then there was Massimo Gobbi's sending off. Ovrebo again let down. TV replays clearly showing the radio-link white hot with instruction from the assistant for the ref to pull out a red one. The challenge was bad; the arm was high but not thrown nor violent, surely yellow at best.

But of the man himself, how can a one who's refereed approaching 250 games at the top level explain away chalking off a Gomez goal to whistle for a penalty? That's the hasty mistake of an excitable sixteen year old in his first half dozen games, not the supposed cool-headed, composed and controlled officiating of a FIFA man.

We're coached from an early refereeing age to read the game, anticipate what is around you, and, in the modern era, "count to three" as you can always pull play back if the advantage does not accrue. May I ask what bigger advantage is there than a goal being scored by the offended side? Fortunately for Tom Henning, Robben dispatched the kick to save major blushes.

Despite being shortlisted, Ovrebo was not on the final ten European names for South Africa, might we respectfully suggest he's not on UEFA's list next season. Norway must have better. One man who will be at FIFA's grand finale in June is Swede Martin Hansson, he of Thierry Henry handball fame and Ireland's best friend, not! He too grabbed unwelcome attention on Wednesday evening.

Now let me immediately state, technically there was nothing wrong with Falcao's winner. I thought Sol Campbell's ball back to Lukasz Fabianski constituted a "back pass", or "ball played deliberately which the goalkeeper picks up" as it is taught in refereeing circles. Also, Porto were quite within their rights to take it quickly.

My gripe is Hansson serving Porto the quick free kick on a silver-plated platter (we don't do gold in Middlesbrough). Yes, it was a free-kick. Yes, the attacking team can take it quick if they so wish, however for an official to gift a team an almost open goal by running to the keeper to collect the ball, then instantly dropping it to the ground whilst blocking the attempts of a defender to get into a defending position, the referee has clearly assisted the goal being scored.

Hansson is extremely experienced, yes, the call was correct, however he's forgotten one important factor in the professional game – the "Spirit of the Law". He should have taken more time and made certain he personally wasn't going to become an obstacle in what is without doubt the most critical area of the field of play. He didn't, he did, and it had a huge effect on the outcome of the match.

So what can be done? UEFA have a referees department who appoint and like all other confederations they have match delegates and referee observers. This structure obviously hasn't worked so far. Perhaps it is time for the UEFA refereeing department to travel consistently to domestic games on their patch, then they can see their guys in action with their own eyes in domestic competition as well as when they are on confederation business.

How about a bit of Champions League cash being invested into getting the officials together for regular training sessions where UEFA can hammer home what they expect of their officials, and perhaps they can detail a level of punishment to be expected should standards slip. Harsh though it may sound, but for once I will accept (and we refs are told this at every level), with the amount of money coming from the Champions League, critical mistakes at this level cost jobs and livelihoods.

Referees are no longer amateurs; perhaps they don't receive fantastic salaries in comparison to players. However, to be a top-flight referee today you must approach the art in a professional manner. I fully accept no referee makes mistakes deliberately, but that is no defence for not at least striving for perfection.

I don't understand the walls of silence that surround refereeing. I would be proud to lead a refs' department at a confederation or association that knows it is doing everything possible to better the best officials in its remit. To stand and admit to its member's error but know you have the determination and passion to correct it through education and training, and, when necessary be prepared to punish and make tough decisions. Why doesn't this happen now?

Dave Roberts presents ESPN Soccernet Sportscenter and is a former international referee.


Posted by pramod subramanyan on 18/02/2010

Hansson did the right thing. I can't help thinking that your complaints are because your compatriots were beaten.

Posted by Kaahwa Victor on 18/02/2010

Dave, You are spot on, there is a need to put tough sanctions to refs who make silly mistakes, this costs teams money, pride and to us funs it brings pressure because we are so passionate to our clubs. May be bieng poorly paid the refs could be fixing matches???

Posted by theodore on 18/02/2010

Once the referee asks for the ball in a situation like that the free kick is supposed to be ceremonial and should not be allowed rapidly. This is a basic refereeing mistake and a shame within the spirit of the game. If it were not for his intervention in this way, Porto had all rights to a rapid kick. Supposed Sol came in over the top then to try and get to the ball and knocked over the ref...what then?
Poor refereeing at this level

Posted by EK on 18/02/2010

By the way was Martin Hansson even looking there when the Porto guys started the free-kick????

Posted by Lars Audun Bråten on 18/02/2010

This is a very calm and collected analysis of what I can best describe as horrendous refereeing mistakes. The fact that these two Scandinavian referees have been the center of huge controversy before, should perhaps indicate that they are unfit to lead games of this importance.
I agree that the referee Hansson was correct in giving Porto an indirect free-kick, but in the previous attack, he turned down a very serious penalty claim for Arsenal. Rosicky was clearly brought down in a possible goal-scoring opportunity. Arsenal have been awarded only one penalty since Eduardo´s dive against Celtic in the qualifiers, and that was in the Premier League.
Anyway, Hansson also failed to give a number of Porto players yellow cards for consistant and rough fouls on Fabregas. This time, the referee had an enourmous impact on the outcome of the game. That is not supposed to happen with referees, but it seems to be happening all the time in the Champions League. This has to be taken very seriously.

Posted by OG Zobis on 18/02/2010

Nice article, but i believe that this referee Tom Henning Ovrebo is UEFA referee because i believe he was deliberately costing teams the game.

Take a look at the game between chelsea fc and bacelona fc last year and you will understand that no one in his real sense will make such mistake and still has a place in european top game again.

I understand that he is doing what mitchel platini told him to do otherwise they could have sack him from the game because Tom Henning Ovrebo is an insult to the game.

Pls if Uefa has a specific team they want to win then why playing the game in the first place? Last year it was chelsea and this year it was fiorentina and who knows what will happen in the final.

Only God can save us from this Platini dilenma because he knows all about this mistakes and never do something because it was his wishes.

let Tom Henning Ovrebo leave our game for us pls

Chelsea Fan Forever

Posted by wm on 18/02/2010

I have no complaints about him running to get the ball because isn't that what's suppose to be done in order to not waste time?

Posted by Mikey on 18/02/2010

I thought so as well about Hansson. He almost did a "Pick And Roll" to gift that goal to Porto.

Posted by ADEBIYI SUNDAY ADEYEMI on 18/02/2010

I really think something should be done about this, because is not proper for this kind of act in a very big competition like the champions league to happen,and i think UEFA should really do something about it, before it brings down the reputation of the best competitive league in the world.

Posted by mothusi mathake on 18/02/2010

how about a taste of their medicine Arsenal did it before against Chelsea the only complaint is maybe the ref should not interfered with play which i think he did, he acted as a wall.

Posted by vj on 18/02/2010

omg, there are so many fools here who are defending Hansonn. Wenger summed it up perfectly. Hansonn could have rather awarded them a goal instead of letting them take that sort of freekick.

Wenger - ""Then, on an indirect free-kick, if you allow the team to play quickly, just five metres from the goal, how can the team defend that? It is better than a penalty. It was unbelievable that he allowed Porto to play straight away and push the ball into the net.
"I have never seen that and I have been in the game a long time. It is completely inappropriate that he allows that in such a situation. When the referee gives the free-kick he has to allow us a chance to defend it, otherwise it is better to give a goal straight away.
"From a situation where there was no goal chance at all, and no free-kick as well, the referee gives them just a goal. It is difficult to understand, but maybe I am not intelligent enough.""

Posted by Hugo Uribe on 18/02/2010

I wish football could be played without referees; unfortunately, that's out of the question. In any regular job such incompetence as refs regularly exhibit would be punished with the sack faster than they can blow the whistle, but not in football. Remember the game between ManU and Spurs when Tottenham had the ball at least half a yead inside the ManU goal and the ref waved played on after the goalkeep had scooped it out? Technology is needed, but won't solve all the problems in this particular sport. Refs have become a law onto themselves, there must be a way to bring them back to earth.

Posted by Abas on 18/02/2010

Hi Dave, remember me....Good write up and comment...

Posted by G. A. Delpech on 18/02/2010

So we have the same THO in contention for worse referee ever in 2010 And we are only in february ..phew...Now you will say what do I know. I'll tell you. A referee don't run to get the ball after awarding a free kick. He calls for it. If the player in possession delays causing time wasting then he is cautioned ( yellow card) for time wasting. The opposing team has all the rights to take the freekick at anytime after it is awarded. The only exception is if a penalty is awarded. There is no quick taking a penalty there is bound to be encroachment (other players still in penalty area.) This area has to be cleared before a p. k. is taken. But then again the referee has to be alert (ALWAYS ) to view the quick freekick is taken properly which means a) at the place where the offence occured b) that the ball is stationery before the kick is taken c) that the same player do not play the ball twice d) that the ball has travelled it's circumference before being played by another player.ha FIFAha

Posted by Atilola Samuel on 18/02/2010

well the damage has been done but the only thing i would like UEFA to look at critically is the video clip of the match. There you'll see the refree caught by the camera, raised his hand up and i think that suppose to mean that the players are to form wall. he also stood on the way of Sol from seeing the freekick been played. i think that's unfair on the Gunners.
UEFA pls take note cos error like this can spoil the game!

Posted by Perry on 18/02/2010

He is not fit to officiate this game of football Mr Platini.

Posted by Atilola Samuel on 18/02/2010

well the damage has been done but the only thing i would like UEFA to look at critically is the video clip of the match. There you'll see the refree caught by the camera, raised his hand up and i think that suppose to mean that the players are to form wall. he also stood on the way of Sol from seeing the freekick been played. i think that's unfair on the Gunners.
UEFA pls take note cos error like this can spoil the game!

Posted by Eddie on 18/02/2010

What I never understand about these quick free kicks is why they are allowed sometimes and not others. As for it being taken while the ref is looking the other way, I cannot understand why they did not have to take it again. He is obviously not an Arsenal fan..

Posted by Osahon on 18/02/2010

My opinion is that if UEFA can just swallow their pride and discipline referees that come up with poor dicisions that ruin matches as they currently do to players, I think referees will be learning from their ruins. What happened yesterday in both matches are unacceptable and officiating like these kills the passion that goes with the game.

Posted by Kapten Blodpudding on 18/02/2010

It's not up to the ref to give the defending team time to regroup. That's up to the team who have been wronged - Porto. Campbell spent to much valuable time standing around, and not trying to get behind the ball in time. If he immediately had tried to get in position, he'd had enough time to get around the ref and behind the ball. Lazy effort by the Arsenal defence.

Posted by Josh on 18/02/2010

Uefa should investigate it properly to ensure that Hansson was not bought over by Porto fc to give them a goal as cheap as that! Shame to the game of football and shame to you Hansson! Arsenal fans take heart because Porto will pay dearly at emirates stadium and I hope Hansson will not be the ref. that day. Ovrebo's case was even worst, he is not just unqualified and lacked the basic skills to even ref. in local game not to talk of an international game like this....

Posted by oj on 18/02/2010

though, i did not watch these 2 matches(arsenal/porto and florentina/bayern).its obvious if the scorer of a goal can say its offside, who then can say otherwise.Those 2 referees should be sanctioned.
even the old italian,Collina is better than these 2 misfits.
tell any of the 2 not to go to Uk/Italy because their pictures will be posted and their heads will not worth a penny if caught alive.
football should not be made to be won by chance,ie. the 12th official perogative.
Platini wake up, u were once a great and it will not speak well for the game we all love to be brought to disrepute.
after World Cup, UEFA is the next competition that defies race,colour and religion.
be fair to all concerned.

Posted by jds on 18/02/2010

Quote from Wenger -

"I have never seen that and I have been in the game a long time. It is difficult to understand. It is completely inappropriate that he allows that in such a situation. When the referee gives the free-kick he has to allow us a chance to defend it, otherwise it is better to give a goal straight away."

How many times did Henry and Pires get away with the same thing in their Arsenal days.

What a hypocrite.

Posted by Sam on 18/02/2010

Yes there was a mistake but the way the ref handled it was like he had a side.I can conclusively say the 1st goal to arsenal was an own goal and the second one was a refree goal.How can a ref throw a ball to the foot of the opponent in the box and face the other side to block the defender? Ref didnt see the ball being taken, he imagined as he had already wished that it was a goal and just pointed to the centre.But are these refrees purnishable? Ofcourse he will say he did a legal thing but it lacked natural justice and professionalism.

Posted by ceghenedji on 18/02/2010

What brutal force, malignant error befall Arsenal? Is that a penalty-freekick? Hansson does not deserve to be called a referee. pls., someone should hand over his whistle to my granfather... he will surely do a better job!

Posted by chuckieluv on 19/02/2010

as a college referee i must say that hansson was spot freakin' on. he's not required by any law or guideline to allow the defense to regroup and set a wall. yes he got in cambell's way but the ref is part of the pitch (plus old sol wouldn't have been able to do much being a yard behind the play). "spirit of the law"? please. everything about that that play was handled by the book.

Posted by GK on 19/02/2010

Hansoon was right, it was a back pass, campbell was too disappointed with himself and the keeper that he did not realize the porto players screaming for the ball - which fabianski had held onto for too long - at which point the ref decided to go and get it from the keeper and hand it over to the porto players. Campbell then wakes up from his nightmare to realize that the world moved on and the ref had already taken position at which point he was riskin a foul on the ref.
Porto players cleverly put the ball in its home, the back of the net(and even Fabregas admits it was correct while wenger as expected complained). Henry did it many times, giggs and gerald too. so get on with the game arsenal and stop moaning u can win the return leg at emirates and go thru

Posted by alex on 19/02/2010

what a ref. what a shame

Posted by musa yakubu on 19/02/2010

it is unbelieveable and unjustifiable that such a goal could be allowed in this new mellinium era, the referee clearly supported fc porto by giving a shameful goal but yet nothing has been done. how unthinkable could a referee run to a ball give porto and block campbell and turn his head side way this is a big drama and a joke that could only be found in a silly movie that nobody could be interested to buy! well i hope arsenal could give them the same treatment if that is what UEFA wants. that is not football shame to you Hansson

Posted by mustapha on 19/02/2010

The ref have made a big mistake for counting that Goal.i am a chelsea fan but let admit what the ref did was wrong.They can do that in other league but not champions league.please platini to say omething about it.thanks

Posted by Oscar on 19/02/2010

Perhaps a bit more experience from Fabianski. There are other keepers who would have hung onto the ball for dear life. Ok, so the ref orders him to give it up. So what? Cop a yellow card but not a goal.

Posted by tunde taiwo on 19/02/2010

Much as i support Arsenal,I think they deserved what they got from the second goal for lack of attention to the game,it is played for 90minutes and quite rightly Arsenal never play for 90minutes and most teams already have that knowledge and use it to great advantage.How do you explain Sol Campbell moaning about the incident with no Arsenal player in sight(Sunday Morning football).

Posted by David on 19/02/2010

What level of unreality is it when the fans at home -- or even in the stadium -- can see replays of these controversial incidents, but the match officials, FIFA and UEFA stand by their incorrect calls?

The system is ripe for corruption when one well-placed man can exert so much control over a match, regardless of what actually takes place on the pitch, without any system of accountability in place. FIFA needs to do something because it is a laughing stock.

Posted by seun on 20/02/2010

Can't imagining some people here moentioning Henry.How many times have Henry scored a penlaty freekick?how many times have Henry scored when the refree was forming the Wall himself?How many times have Henry receive an assist from a refree?i think the same refree fail to see the glaring handball. Are this people playing a script?Can't just understand why they don't understand a foul in the box is a penalty.underbow or overbow whatever his name.A goal was scored yet the fool calls for a penalty when there was no loss of possession.I think Platini reign will be known for officiating of this nature.If you have favourite then no need for clubs to waste their time and energy on a match.Too bad.maybe my grand mother should be considered for a slot in the refree department of UEFA.

Posted by kato on 20/02/2010

pliz clarify to me whether it is okay for the ref to allow a free kick when he hasnt seen the ball being kicked. i think the didnt see the kick i the arsenal game.

Posted by Dave on 21/02/2010

Thank you, Dave, for your common sense and honesty. Referees at every level are a protected species and I've never understood why. We need refs that not only apply the laws of the game but referee from a players'perspective. There are too many authoritarians in the refs ranks and not enough performance perfectionists. (does that make sense?)
I think that refs may also be helped by having 4 linesman and/or by video technology. The big decisions have to go to the video ref!!!

Posted by Lam on 21/02/2010

to accept the mistake; also no fair play actually
They did not promote fair play as stated

Posted by babatunde niyiy on 22/02/2010

why uefa had to use two controversial ref same day!i cant there a plan?and to guess right, two of them prove worhty of what is known of them. maybe either of them will be used at the final!

Posted by Michael Karlin on 23/02/2010

What went wrong at Porto was that the referee forgot the reason for the back pass rule. It was designed to prevent time wasting and needs to be interpreted in that spirit. A back pass should only be penalized if there is zero doubt that it was deliberate. I can't imagine Hansson had no doubt at all that Campbell's touch was deliberate. And if he had any doubt, he should have let it go.

Having not let it go, his next mistake was clumsy administration of the kick in a very dangerous situation. Does it feel fair that the referee set up the attack for an easy goal off a trivial infraction? The kick was a ceremonial one and the referee should have taken his time.

None of what Hansson did was technically/legally wrong. He could decide the pass was deliberate. He could place the ball a quick kick to be taken; Wenger of all people has no grounds to complain about that. But the kick should not have been given and having been given it should have been administered more judiciously

Posted by Pete Holmes on 02/05/2010

5 0 - nuff said

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