Sunday’s referees reviewed
A game with the most bookings in the tournament so far and hotly debated offside/onside goal. Such were the points of interest on day 3 of Euro 2012. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we shall begin.
Yellow cards: Alba, Arbeloa, Torres (Spain) Balotelli, Bonucci, Chiellini (Italy)
Red cards: 0
Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)
The last two World Cup winners faced off four years after meeting in a Euro 2008 quarter-final. It was level after 90 minutes then and so it proved today.
It was a highly physical game as the yellow card count demonstrates but was never petulant or dirty and the man in the middle eased off his whistle where appropriate.
Some neat calls from his assistants early on to flag Cesc Fabregas onside and Antonio Cassano off were both spot-on.
The bookmakers will not have been surprised to see perennial headline-maker Mario Balotelli receive the first booking of the game for a few repeated offences but he just about managed to behave himself for the rest of the game until he was subsituted.
The remaining six bookings came thick and fast in a 23 minute spell at the end of the game. First Leonardi Bonucci dived in recklessly on Andreas Iniesta which caused a minor fracas between a few players, mostly notably Spanish defender Jordi Alba.
Both players were booked for their part in the incident but while it was clear emotions were tense thankfully this boiled over into frenetic offensive football rather than futher argument and Kassai’s handling of the situation, stern but fair, helped that.
Iniesta was again the “victim” as he was taken down by Giorgio Chiellini while barging through towards goal ten minutes later.
Álvaro Arbeloa received a yellow after 84 minutes in an incident which TV cameras didn’t capture to well so it is difficult to judge.
However subsitute Fernando Torres who had caused the Azzuri some real worries since coming on was very fortunate to only be given a yellow when he caught Daniel De Rossi in the throat with an elbow.
The reasons why it was a yellow will only be revealed in the referee’s report – did Kassai not spot the full foul or did he feel this was more an overly physical attempt to get the ball rather than straight out violent conduct?
It is not entirely clear cut and so I will give Kassai the benefit of the doubt but Torres clearly had his lucky underpants on today.
Iniesta was yet again causing havoc amongst the Italian backline and drew what is coloquilly know as a professional foul from Christian Maggio. It rounded off a busy second half for the Hungarian offical who did well to keep on top of two committed teams without spoiling the spectacle. An impressive display all-round.
Ref’s rating: 9/10
Yellow cards: Modric, Kranjcar (Croatia) Andrews (Ireland)
Red cards: 0
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands)
So let’s jump straight into it – was Nikica Jelavic’s goal legitimate? The short answer is yes, but let’s look at why.
When the ball is played in from Luka Modric, Jelavic is offside at the first photo shows. However he is not “active”. A quick class recap of this is:
A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball
touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee,
involved in active play by:
• interfering with play or
• interfering with an opponent or
• gaining an advantage by being in that position
The classic argument comes that surely a player is attempting to gain an advantage by being in this position otherwise he would not be there. However during the first phase of play, Jelavic does not receive the ball, nor does any Croatian player actively try and give it to him. Thus he does not really gain an advantage as Croatia lose possession before it can be given to him.
His position also does not obscure the goalkeepers vision or movement, nor that of any other opponent. If in another scenario, the ball played in from Modric had struck an Irish player and rebounded to Jelavic, then he would be offside. But this does not happen as the Irish manage to block Modric’s forward ball.
This, with the change of possession and the change in the ball’s speed and movement, means another phase of play has been entered. The second phase.
The next touch then comes from Ireland’s Stephen Ward who fails with an attempted clearance and slices the ball to the feet of the Croatian and Everton striker.
As you may know, you are not offside if an opponent touches the ball towards you (this does not include deflections etc.) therefore Jelavic is not offside and the goal rightly stands.
That said however, that is not the end of the disputed calls in this match. Jelavic’s goal was of course to give Croatia the lead after Ireland had equalised through Sean St Ledger. However the freekick that equaliser came from was a very soft decision as there was minmum contact between Vedran Corluka and Kevin Doyle.
Kuipers was very quick to whistle through out the game, often for situations where a foul is quite questionable. He was not helped by at least two fans in the crowd unfairly blowing whistles of their own in such a way that appeared to be deliberately to confuse the players. Fortunately, this did not seem to have an effect.
After the break, the Dutch official did give the first caution of the game to Irish midfielder Keith Andrews for a mistimed sliding tackle on double goalscorer Mario Mandzukic.
Modric was next to go into the book deservedly when he came in late on Glenn Whelan and left the player flat on the floor.
Ten minutes later Irish fans again jeered Kuipers in frustration when he waved away claims for a penalty when striker Robbie Keane was taken down just in the penalty area.
Replays show Gordon Schildenfeld fails to the get the ball and the image shows Kuipers in a good position to see this. However he fails to spot the infringement and more concerningly neither does the assistant on the near touchline or behind the goal.
With the Irish struggling to create changes, substitute Niko Kranjcar took down another replacement player Jonathan Walters with seven minutes remaining to earn the third yellow of the game.
All things considered, it was a rather messy performance from Kuipers and despite his assistant’s excellent decision to let the second Croatian goal stand, he didn’t endear himself to either set of fans or the neutral.
Kuipers is known as a ref who is happy to show cards and there is nothing wrong with that but he will need to do better in his next game to reflect his strong reputation in his native land.
Ref’s rating: 5/10
re the offside and second phase thing. The two players that were initially offside: one is blocking a potential back pass, and the goalscorer beats the goalkeeper to the sliced clearance by approximately the distance that he was originally offside. Take that half a yard from him (i.e he doesn’t start in an offside position) and he’s less likely to score. So that half a yard could be considered as being advantageous right?
Posted from United Kingdom
This is the essential grey area with the “active” rule – yes, his closeness to the goal obviously gives him a lot of potential advantages, restricting what given can do and putting him in prime position for any mistakes.
But the key word is potential – the advantage needs to be immediate, not a developing hazard as it were.
Since FIFA have refused to make the situation clear, we have to rely on precedent and the precedent so far supports the assistants call
i’m from croatia and i don’t fucking care what the law says because it’s flawed. i’m interested what it should say in the future so the game gets better, more exciting, more difficult and more fair. ireland didn’t have ANY luck at all. the croatia goals were such horseshit. pure luck, all three of them. i was pissed and embarrassed. had no fun at all watching the game. goals like the one of jelavic should not be allowed in the future. both jelavic and vukojevic are offside when modric shoots and if you reset the play at ward’s first touch you automatically reset both offside players into an onside position which is just wrong because they’re in an advantageous position. because of vukojevic ward panics and slices it. just by being there vukojevic influenced the defender that had to hurry his shot and made a mistake. therefore vukojevic directly influenced the game but since this is treated as a new situation, a second phase there’s no offside which really sucks donkey balls. fifa has to law this shit out and treat it as a developing situation, not a separate one. not only was vukojevic reset into an onside position by this stupid ruling, he went for the ball and that caused ward to hurry his shot which is unfair. i have no doubt there’s room for improvement in cases like this.
I think we have to realise that if we suddenly took a zero tolerance to any player who drifts into an offside position, we would stop the play extremely frequently.
I would love to see FIFA develop this law – it would help officials to have greater guidance as to how to apply the law.
However from a footballing perspective, I think the better side won and that should be the bare minimum expected from a refereeing performance
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