WineCape's Referee Blog

IMHO – a South African Football referee's view



Fifa and IFAB’s latest Law changes for 2011

Missed criterias, clothing bans, triple punishment and vanishing spray

The International  Football Association Board (IFAB), the lawmaking body tasked with authorizing changes and amendments to the Laws of the Game, convened for its 125th Annual General Meeting in March 2011, in Wales.  Their rule changes sanctioned will come law on 1 July 2011. Up for consideration were some of the following vexing issues:

Goal Line Technology:  

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter announced that none of the ten companies which had been invited to test their technology had so far been successful in meeting the specific criteria set out by the IFAB meeting on October 20, 2010. IFAB therefore agreed to a one-year extension of Goal Line Technology tests. Blatter explained:

If you have no system which is responding to the criteria that has been fixed by this entity, you cannot just jump in.

We must first have the answer to our basic principles – accuracy, speed – which means the immediate delivery of the result – and a system that is not too complicated to implement. And we haven’t achieved these three things so far with our independent laboratory.

Therefore, it is a question of one year. What is one year? It is nothing. Just a little bit of patience is needed. But it was a very positive approach in the meeting …. and there was not one single person there, despite the fact that we had a lot of special guests today, going against the tests.

The ten systems all had to demonstrate they were 100% accurate and that they could transmit the result of a goal being scored, or not, to the referee within a second. Blatter said the issue of Goal Line Technology would be brought back to the attention of IFAB next meeting – March 2012, in London – when a final decision will be taken.

Chuck Blazer

FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer, one of the body’s delegates to IFAB and General Secretary of CONCACAF said:

“It has got to be reliable, quick and affordable and nothing has worked at the moment. If anyone can meet that criteria I continue to be open to it. I don’t have a problem with keeping the testing open until we get something that works.”

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke mentioned that the world governing body are “ready to pay”  for further goal line technology tests. The goal-line system developed by a British company, Hawk-Eye, was not one of the tested systems. FIFA has given the British company the assurances that they are still under consideration.

Hawk-Eye, the most established technology, having already conducted stadium testing at Reading in England, declined even to take part in FIFA’s experiment prior to the 125th AGM, apparently in anticipation of the difficult testing environment. Their version of the specific technology needed a stadium environment for their cameras. Hawk-Eye remains confident its system would pass Fifa’s tests – the company is in the process of being taken over by a larger company and it will be eager that IFAB will give them some  guarantees that IFAB will want to continue with goal line technology in the future.

The ten technology Companies had only a few months to attain Fifa’s criteria of 100% accuracy and relaying results back to the officials with speed – and it proved too difficult a task for them.

IFAB is made up of representatives from each of the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland’s FAs, plus FIFA, the international governing body for football. Each UK association has one vote and FIFA has four. IFAB deliberations must be approved by three-quarters of the vote, which translates to at least six votes. FIFA’s approval is necessary for any IFAB decision, but FIFA alone cannot change the laws of the game and requires the support of at least two of the UK members.

The Welsh and Northern Irish Football Associations, which until now had backed FIFA in opposing any goal line technology, about turned their stance and are now also leaning towards supporting more tests on goal-line systems.

Fifa has announced a timetable for goal-line technology during 2011. Companies, interested in presenting their goal-line systems, need to declare their interest before 3 June 2011 to Fifa headquarters in Zurich and have to formally apply one month later with a $20,000 registration fee.

Germany's GK, Neuer, fails to save England's shot by Lampard in World Cup 2010, a catalyst for FIFA to re-evaluate their stance on goal-line technology.

Presented systems will be tested during the first phase between September and December 2011, and all systems reporting a 90% or higher accuracy in simulated match conditions would be invited back for the second phase of testing, being conducted between March and June 2012. The second phase will be more rigorous, entailing the evaluation of the qualified systems under different weather conditions, shock resistance, immunity to electronic interference and under different types of playing surfaces. Trails will be held behind closed doors and manufacturers can choose their preferred stadium for conducting such tests.

Ben Buckley, GM of the Australian Football Federation, offered his federation's services as guinea pig for FIFA's goal-line technology tests.

Australia’s Ben Buckley has already offered Fifa his willingness to help out evaluating and testing goal-line technology within the Australian Football Federation. Said Buckley in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph:

“We believe the infrastructure of the [A] League is of high enough quality to give it a meaningful trial. [Australia] took the initiative on using video technology to penalize simulation retrospectively, and pleasingly you now see very, very little of that in our game. Everyone wants to see the correct decisions made by the officials, and this seems to be a way of supporting them in that.” 

AAR’s during the EURO 2012: 

Europe’s (EUFA) president, Michel Platini, wants extra officials behind each goal line instead of technology. (Getty Images)

A presentation was also made to IFAB on the use of  Additional Assistant Referees (AAR’s) behind each goal line and IFAB approved  the continued experimentation thereof in the  EUFA Leagues and sanctioned it for the upcoming European Cup, EURO 2012, to be held in Poland and Ukraine.

Vanishing spray: 

The English Football Association (FA) asked IFAB to consider the use of ‘vanishing spray.’  The usage of coloured vanishing  spray is common practice in Brazil and South America where officials use a spray on the grass to prevent the defensive wall encroaching on the 10-yard gap at free-kicks. The spray evaporates after a minute. The small canisters of spray are carried by referees in velcro clasps during matches. The CONMEBOL football federation was granted approval to trial the use of vanishing spray in their football associations.

Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct : ‘DOGSO’s ‘Triple punishment’: 

The punishment of players, when send off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, coupled with a penalty kick if this occurs in their own 18-yard area, as well as the follow-on administrative expulsion – guilty players may have to sit follow-on matches out due to specific league rules with regard to red cards offenses) was discussed. IFAB ruled that this issue, as well as the possible usage of radio communication  in the technical area should be postponed and referred them both to FIFA’s Task Force Football 2014 team.

Snoods, Undergarments and Performance clothing  worn underneath playing kit: 

IFAB ruled neck warming scarfs (snoods) are not permitted as from 1 July 2011

Snoods, or neck warming scarfs and/or hoods, are to be outlawed as from 1 July 2011 under Law 4 – Player’s Equipment. IFAB also clarified and re-iterated that the colour of  the increasing popular usage of performance clothing (leg tights or baselayers), if worn, must match the colour of a player’s shorts.   //


FIFA considers neck-warming snood ban


The International Football Board (IFAB), the sole body tasked with football law changes, is about to discuss the next round of possible changes to be effected, or not.

The games’ law-making body will meet on March 5 with Fifa and a specific topic, marked “V.1.b” on the “Any Other Business” section of the annual meeting agenda, will be of interest to referees and some football players wearing certain garments, called snoods or neck warmers.

Arsenal player Samir Nasri wearing a snood, soon to be out-lawed by Fifa?

Fifa raised health and safety concerns, citing the issue as follows: 

“We want a debate whether it could be dangerous. There may be a safety issue – if for example a player was running though on goal and an opponent grabbed his snood, that could pose a potential danger to his neck,” a FIFA spokesman was quoted.

Players Samir Nasri (Arsenal), Argentinian Carlos Tevez (Manchester City) and Emmanuel Adebayor (loaned to Real Madrid) are among the adherents in the professional game wearing the snood winter accessory. Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has banned his players from wearing them. Arsenal coach, Arsene Wenger, is of the opinion that snoods actually protect against injury, in reference to thermal characteristics of these garments on a player’s neck.

Law 4 – The Players’ Equipment, states:

“A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewellery).

It is debatable how dangerous the wearing of snoods really are, given snoods are made of soft clothing and are nothing more then a warm scarf wrap-around, usually used in those countries where players play in close to zero temperatures. This argument is apart from the issue whether players should be fashionistas, or not, in today’s modern game. The use of certain player apparel – gloves – are defined and interpreted by referees, while not mentioned anywhere in Law 4, as posing no risk of injury to player and opponent. Most referees allow snoods to be worn, being of the opinion, based on their interpretation of Law 4, that these items pose no risk to players. Or do they?

They’ve all gone soft – Roy Keane, former Manchester United Captain, on players wearing neck warmers

A scarf or snood has a higher chance of getting snagged onto a cleat, a boot, a hand, a finger, an arm.  There is a risk of neck injury, a very susceptible, exposed and weak body part due to the proximity of vertebra.

Though the chance is admittedly small that this might occur, the danger to players’ safety can be considerable. Parallels can be drawn to the Roman Law of Delict, where one of the defining principles of negligence can be summed as follows: If the chance of an incident occurring is quite remote or unlikely, but if does occur and then result in major/serious damage to property or person, then steps must be actively taken to negate or diminish such possibility of remote damage. In the absence of such active steps to prevent injury, a party or person can be held liable for negligence.

Although Law 5 (Decision 1 of the International F.A. Board) define the role of match officials, inasmuch that they cannot be held liable for any kind of injury a player might suffer due to a match official’s decision to “….allow or not to allow a player to wear certain apparel or equipment”, Fifa is of the opinion that player safety is of tantamount importance and should outweigh any thermal benefits – or fashion trends – of snood-wearing players.

Fifa wants to give guidance and clarity to referees in allowing these specific garments. By wishing to define Law 4 with possibly concrete examples of clothing items that should or should not be allowed on the field of play, Fifa endeavors for consistency in the exercise of a referee’s discretion. The issue of defining the Laws for clarity and consistency, whether such considerations to do so are based on player safety or uniformity, is akin to IFAB’s ruling a few years ago that “jerseys or shirts”  must have sleeves.

The snood has been an popular piece of kit for the professional footballer and shot to fame after Manchester City star Carlos Tevez began wearing one.

I venture to say Fifa, couching their rationale into player safety and health terms, will have a greater chance in having IFAB agreeing with their opinion in possibly having these items out-lawed. Players, for the most part, did and still do without them, and the benefit of neck protection certainly is negligible, despite their thermal attributes. Contrast this with thermal undershorts, where the player’s leg muscles are constantly stretching and flexing due to running and kicking motions, where the player is at far greater risk of pulling a leg muscle than having a neck muscle going into spasms due to lack of thermal clothing.

There is no empirical incidents detailing injuries by opponent’s studs or body parts snagging onto thermal legging under garments, as a safety hazard, and causing thus serious injury. Can the same (soon) be said for snoods if their use become more prevalent, especially since they are close to a very vulnerable part of a player’s body, his neck? I doubt it.

In my humble opinion, neck warmers are potentially far more dangerous then their benefit as thermal wear, and certainly unimportant, irrelevant, immaterial, inconsequential and trivial if snoods are to be worn for fashion reasons on the football playing field. Ultimately, referees should adhere to the following FIFA guideline pertaining to extra equipment used: thoroughly inspect said equipment  before kick-off and ascertain whether the extra equipment worn are to

(1) physically protect the player (e.g. from adverse weather elements,  or from further injury during the match where the injury was sustained earlier etc.)

(2) and  are, in the opinion of the referee, not dangerous to the player or anyone else.

If the above conditions are not fulfilled, then the referee must instruct the player/management of the team to do away with the “snood goods.” For good.

Well done Ravshan Irmatov!

World Cup match 1: South Africa vs. Mexico, Johannesburg, 11 June 2010.

I am of the opinion the Referee for the opening match between South Africa & Mexico, Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan, did exceedingly well, including his 1st assistant whom correctly ruled Mexico’s goal offside. Ravshan control of the match was calm, focused, with excellent body language; he was also quick off the mark to get into good viewing angles. He did not seem  flustered or nervous given the occasion. Rated currently #15 in the world, he has a bright future and if he’s consistent, will soon break into the World Top 10 Referee List.  Well done Ravshan and your officiating team!

Mexico's Efrain Juarez, left, became the first player to be booked in the World Cup by referee Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan) during the World Cup group A soccer match between South Africa and Mexico at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup match 2: Uruguay vs. France, Cape Town, 11 June 2010:

A very good performance from Japanese referee Nashimura given some of the flying tackles during this fast, chaotic match. Well controlled, using his discretion and common sense, where allowed, to rather talk to players  as opposed to be completely yellow-card happy.

Nashimura quickly took charge of the delaying tactics of the captain of Uruguay at a free kick (awarded to France) near the penalty area late in the match, cautioning the player  for failing to adhere to the referee’s instruction to move the required 10-yards away.

Referee Nashimura was also spot-on with the first red card of World Cup 2010  in the 81st minute,  a second yellow/caution for the hot-headed Uruguayan substitute Lodeiro due to the latter’s late, reckless lunge on his opponent. Lodeiro managed only 18 min. on the pitch.

Lodeiro, brought on as substitute in the 63rd minute, received his first caution in the 65th minute  for delaying the restart of play; kicking the ball away after the whistle was blown for an infringement.

Most importantly, Nashimura looked as if he enjoyed the match, being stern when needed, but also showing a relaxed body language (and a smile!)  in lesser confronting situations between the two teams. He was not too officious, correctly maintaining a balance between being firm, fair as well as approachable by grumbling players, without entertaining too much lip from them.

Despite the French coach Domonech’s complaint after the match about a possible handball to be awarded for France in the penalty area late in the match, the Laws of the game were correctly applied: If the ball did indeed struck the hand of the Uruguay defender after a shot from a French forward, there was certainly no deliberate movement of his hand towards the ball, given the speed of the ball and the distance between the two players involved.

Another very good performance from the FIFA Team officials!

Fifa 2010 World Cup Referees – a photo list

Massimo Busacca (Switzerland, rated #1, born 1969)
Roberto Rosetti (Italy, rated #2, born 1967)
Howard Webb (England, rated #3, born 1971)
Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay, rated #4, born 1968)
Frank de Bleeckere (Belgium, rated #5, born 1966)
Wolfgang Stark (Germany, rated # 9, born 1969)
Hector Baldassi (Argentina, rated #10, born 1966)
Carlos Amarilla (Paraguay, rated # 12, born 1970)

Note: Amarilla will not officiate in the 2010 World Cup due to one of his assistant’s failing his fitness test – see here.

Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain, rated # 13, born 1973)
Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan, rated #15, born 1977)
Oscar Ruiz Acosta (Colombia, rated # 16, born 1969)
Benito Archundia (Mexico, rated #18, born 1966)
Martin Hansson (Sweden, rated #19, born 1971)
Eddy Maillet (Seychelles, rated #24, born 1967)
Marco Rodriquez Moreno (Mexico, rated # 25, born 1973)
Jerome Kelvin Damon (South Africa, born 1972)
Yuichi Nashimura (Japan, born 1972)
Joel Aquilar Chicas (El Salvador, born 1975)
Michael Hester (New Zealand, born 1972)
Peter O'Leary (New Zealand, born 1972)
Viktor Kassai (Hungary, born 1975)
Pablo Pozo (Chile, born 1973)
Olegario Benquerenca (Portugal, born 1969)
Stephane Laurent Lannoy (France, born 1969)
Carlos Eugenio Simon (Brazil, born 1965)
Carlos Batres (Guatemala, born 1968)
Koman Coulibaly (Mali, born 1970)
Mohamed Benouza (Algeria, born 1972)

Note: Benouza will not officiate in the 2010 World Cup due to one of his assistant’s failing his fitness test – see here

Kahlil Al Ghamdi (Saudia Arabia, born 1970)
Subkhidden Mohd Salleh (Malaysia, born 1966)

EDIT: 27 May 2010 — Martín Vázquez from Uruguay has been announced as replacement for  Amarilla’s Paraguayan team. Fifa will not call in a replacement for the Benouza (Algerian) trio of referees.

Referee Martin Vazquez (with assistants Carlos Pastorino & Miguel Nievas, all from Uruguay) was called in by Fifa to replace the referee trios headed by Amarilla & Benouza.

The above 2010 FIFA World Cup middle referee  list is provisional. Provisional in the sense that they all must pass their final hurdle, a fitness test. The World Cup African contingent of trios/referees will be evaluated at my hometown Coetzenburg Athletics Track, Stellenbosch, on 8th May under the auspices of South African FIFA co-ordinator Carlos Henriques.

For a list of all the World Cup assistant referees, see here.

We are not gods.  We make mistakes. — Swiss referee Massimo Busacca to Greek player Basinas (Greece vs Sweden, Euro 2008) – see the critically acclaimed film, Les Arbitres.

Coetzenburg Track, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The FIFA World Cup is the biggest test an international referee will ever face, both professionally and personally. Of the 29 referees representing 26 nations (Uruguay, New Zealand & Mexico have 2 middle referees each) taking charge of the 64 World Cup games in the month-long tourney in South Africa, 10 are from Europe, 6 from South America, 4 from Asia, 4 from the CONCACAF region, 3 from Africa and 2 from New Zealand. Each referee has his team of two assistants who have worked with him over many months in various FIFA international and Association tournaments, their performance and fitness constantly being monitor by the FIFA Referee Committee.

During the tournament, the referees and assistants will be swathed in a protective blanket of security, locked away from the world’s prying eyes at a luxury hotel where they will be provided with a continuous healthy diet, sports psychologists to boost their confidence and video technological tools for briefing/debriefing to allow them to study the strengths, weaknesses and favourite ploys of the teams they will be officiating.

It has been a 3-year+ journey for all the pre-selected World Cup referees and after many reductions on the final referee list, countless fitness evaluations, workshops, aptitude tests and constant health & diet monitoring , these are the men that FIFA trust to control the greatest sporting event on the planet.

I wish all the above FIFA referees, assistants (and their families) the very best and may your dreams be fulfilled!

Have a great Whistle & Flag!

Referee Busacca voted tops in 2009

International Top Referee List for 2009

Swiss Ref Massimo Busacca voted the top match official for 2009

Swiss Referee Massimo Busacca has been voted as the top international football official in the 2009 IFFHS list, garnering 225 criteria votes.  Runner-up on the 2009 list is Italian Roberto Rosetti with 147 votes. He topped the list in 2008.  Third is English referee Howard Webb with 52 criteria votes.

All three referees are in the final group for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and are expected to officiate in the tournament that starts on 11 June.

Ken Aston – inventor of the yellow and red cards

Battle of Santiago

Rummaging through my football referee paraphernalia lately, I came upon a prized pair of red and yellow cards in my possession, with the name “K. Aston” signed in person in big black, scrawling letters on each card. A present from an American referee friend, all the way from Chicago. [ Thank you again Timothy Orosz! ]

Ken Aston (1915 - 2001), inventor of yellow and red cards. Author has a signed pair.

Kenneth George Aston, known as “Ken,” born in Colchester, Essex, joined the Royal Artillery during World War II before transferring to the British Indian Army, where he reach the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Aston was involved after the war in a war tribunal (Changi War Crimes Tribunal) and the hanging of senior Japanese officers. 21 officers were charged with war crimes against humanity and 8 were eventually sentenced to death. It was Aston’s duty to inform them of their sentence and then he had to attend the hangings.

Aston later settled in the United States. He was knighted by the Queen for his football activities and work  in the States.

Aston was one of the match officials in the 1960 European Cup Final between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt. This match is regarded by many as the greatest European Cup Final ever played. Madrid won 7–3 in front of a crowd of 135,000  at Glasgow’s Hampden Park, with both Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskás scoring a hat-trick for Real Madrid. Madrid were crowned kings of Europe for the fifth straight time, prompting the legendary Bill Shankley, after viewing the match, to say: ” Real Madrid are the greatest club side the world has ever seen”

Another notable achievement for Ken was as middle referee for the 1963 FA Cup Final between Manchester United – managed by Matt Busby – and Leicester City, attended by 99,000+ spectators at Old Wembley stadium, which was then fully roofed for the first time. The match was broadcast live – black and white – with the BBC requesting the one team change kit as the red of United and blue of City would have been indistinguishable to the viewers. Leicester changed into a mostly white kit, as they loss the toss for team colours. Gordan Banks was in goal for City. Despite fielding 9 internationals, including Denis Law and Bobby Charlton, United had struggled during the league season while their opponent had performed well, doing the league double over Manchester in the process and thus entered the FA Cup final as slight favourites. United won 3-1.

Ken Aston invented a few ideas during his service to football, not least of which are the yellow and red cards that referees use today to either warn or expel players if they step on the wrong side of the Laws of the Game. He is also credited for other innovations &  ideas in football refereeing, including:

  • The first referee to wear black with white trim as an official uniform, which later became the standard apparel for referees;
  • The first referee in England to introduce the neutral bright yellow linesman flags (in 1947) in place of the home team pennants;
  • In 1966 he introduced the practice of naming a substitute referee who could take over in the case of the referee being unable to continue – his eventually evolved into the practice of having a designated fourth official;
  • The number boards to announce substitutions;
  • He successfully proposed that the pressure of the ball should be specified in the Laws of the Game;
  • During the 1966 World Cup in England, he came upon the idea of issuing yellow and red card to players.

The story goes that, as FIFA Head of World Cup Referees in 1966 (he was in charge of all referees for the 1966, 1970 and 1974 World Cups)  Ken received a call from Jack Charlton, the England player. The latter explaining that he read in the newspapers that he apparently received a caution from the German referee Rudolf Kreitlein in England’s World Cup match versus Argentina, but that he was unaware of such a caution being issued verbally, as was the custom then. Kreitlein also could only converse in German.

Aston, returning from Wembley Stadium to Lancaster Gate that same evening, mulled over the language confusion that Charlton mentioned. On his trip from Wembley in his MG sports car, he passed many a traffic light. Aston came upon the idea to use coloured cards with the same colour coding (yellow/amber and red) used by traffic lights. He reckoned that showing coloured cards to players will transcend language barriers and clarify to spectators and players that they have been cautioned or sent off.

The use of red and yellow card to warn and/or sent off a player was first implemented in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

Referee Aston trying to control tempers, World Cup 1962, Chile vs Italy.

But there is another notorious incident(s!) that Ken is remembered for; he officiated the infamous Battle of Santiago,” a 1962 World Cup match between Chile and Italy in Chile’s capital. On the bench as substitutes for Italy that day were the future star players and managers Cesare Maldini, father of famed and elegant AC Milan left back Paolo Maldini, including Giovanni Trappatoni – the only football manager to have won all UEFA club competitions and the Intercontinental Cup – as well as Lorenzo Buffon, related to the grandfather of Gianluigi Buffon, the current goalkeeper for Juventus and the Italian national team.

This match was not unlike the 2006 World Cup match in Nuremberg between Portugal and Holland, except the tackles and wild swinging fists were of such brutality that by today ‘s standards most of the players would have been sent off. Tensions were running high before the match as two Italian journalists, Antonio Ghiredelli and Corrado Pizzinelli, had spent weeks labelling Santiago in the newspapers as a poverty-stricken dump, full of loose women. Chile’s organization for the tournament had suffered through poor infrastructure, a problem made worse by the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960. Fearing for their own safety, the two Italian journalists left the country before the World Cup kicked off.

When the match was shown on BBC television, reporter David Coleman introduced the Group B game with this classic statement:

Good evening. The game you are about to see is the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.

He wasn’t far off the mark! Those with squeamish stomachs should not click on the football video below. Chile won 2-0.

Notice the very last few seconds of the above clip, where the 1st assistant quickly runs onto the field to stand next to referee Ken Aston as the latter was about to separate another fight after he blew the final whistle. Aston said his assistant, Leo Goldstein, uttered the following: “Ken, don’t bother sorting this mess out!”

Ken Aston admitted afterwards: “I wasn’t reffing a football match, I was acting as an umpire in military maneuvers.”

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