Tuesday’s referee reviewed
In the end, the highly fancied Irmatov ended his World Cup on a downer with many focusing on a bad call by one of his assistants. But I feel this is a misnomer and that the real problems came when he took his style to an extreme that didn’t suit the game – and paid the price.
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
Yellow cards: 5 – Boulahrouz, Van Bommel, Sneidjer (Holland) Pereira, Caceres (Uruguay)
Red cards: 0
The World Cup is filled with refereeing mysteries – what made Clive Thomas blow his whistle to end the game as Zico appeared to score against Sweden in 1978? What made Dutch official Charles Corver not call for a foul when Germany goalie Harald Schumacher smashed into France’s Patrick Battiston in the 1982 semi-final? And why did Irmatov not book Mark Van Bommel until stoppage time in tonight’s game?
Perhaps he was inkeeping with the whole tournament where the Oranje midfield general had not picked up a single booking going into this evening’s contest. His teammate Nigel De Jong was suspended for similar robustness (although he too probably deserved more than just two yellows in five games at the finals).
As I discussed yesterday, Irmatov is a man reluctant to show cards unless strictly necessary. And I’ll paraphrase what I said then – this is to be admired but simply won’t work in a physical and/or aggressive match. While this was by no means a repeat of the Battle of Nuremberg four years ago, it was a game where Van Bommel in particular was going in hard very frequently with late, often petulant challenges.
Irmatov did call for fouls against Van Bommel but not always. Statistically over the tournament, Wesley Sneidjer has committed more fouls (as determined by officials) than Van Bommel which seems hard to believe especially after tonight.
Van Bommel’s fouls were balanced by the admittedly infrequent dives of players like Arjen Robben and Sneidjer. I would have liked to see Irmatov caution at least someone for simulation as it simply sets out a precedent for the game and may reduce it. Similarly to the way we see officials have a strong word early on about jostling at corners and freekicks and then nothing for the rest of the game, Irmatov needed to step in and make a move with the game still young.
This was on display when Maxi Pereira got the match’s first booking for fouling Robben midway through the opening 45 minutes. In all honesty it was a foul and a non-contentious caution but the Dutch winger over-reacted, screaming in pain and holding himself, before miraculously popping up to take the resulting freekick.
People will argue that Van Bommel is a defensive hardman and that this is just part of his game but this wasn’t him simply coming in with far barges and crunching tackles to get the ball, he was often late, sometimes had studs up and even kicked out at one stage, before throwing himself on the ground, feigning injury and probably a little worried for the inevitable booking.
When it finally came, it was ironically for dissent and Van Bommel looked surprised! In a way, it was a little eye-opening as Irmatov typically takes players’ complaints on the chin but finally, and a little too late for me, he gave Van Bommel a caution, one that is utterly meaningless given that this is the semi-final.
Another big talking point is Oranje’s second goal. As Sneidjer shoots, Robin Van Persie is an offside position as his leg is potruding beyond the line, past defender Diego Godin.
While the ball doesn’t flick off him as some commentators initially thought, he is obscuring the keeper’s perspective on the direction and position of the ball and as such very much interfering with play.
However, though I accept the linesman is not in the best position to judge, it is a difficult call for him to make even if he is from the right vantage point. We’re talking about half second of play as the ball is played and about 20cm of leg sticks out across over 20 metres of field. I know that at this level, the assistant should spot that but this was hardly completely clear cut and these situations you have to say fantastic if he calls it right, but disappointly understandable if he doesn’t see it.
It should be noted that the assistants made a few neglible calls tonight and weren’t at their best for sure.
Another controversial incident came in the first-half when, shortly after Martin Caceres’s high-kick clobbered into Demy de Zeeuw’s face, a large scuffle developed off the ball, fuelled by Sneidjer grabbing Caceres round the head for a moment before the Uruguayan briefly fell to the ground.
But this is a situation I think Irmatov handled correctly – the high-kick was reckless but clearly only with eyes for the ball and Sneidjer, while antaganistic was hardly vicious in his treatment of Caceres and I think a red at that stage would have been a little over the top and may have turned the game very ugly. In that sense, yellows for both was the right decision.
Caceres would be in the wars frequently culminating a very sloppy challenge late in the second-half from Khalid Boulahrouz (probably the best performer tonight) quite unnecessarily and will leave the Uruguayan rather sore tomorrow as his side prepare for seemingly meaningless third-placed playoff.
Nevertheless, Irmatov never really took full control over this match, evident by the altercations after the game and general bad feeling between the teams for the whole of the 90 minutes.
He always has the appearance of a man in control and still retained many of the attributes that have made him very respected at the finals – quickness both around the pitch and when stopping play, insight and helping the game to flow where possible.
But the Uzbek appeared to lose focus near the end of the game and despite his excellent positioning, he did miss a few fouls here and there. There is no question of bias for the Netherlands (a subject I’ll post about later this week) as he was neutral throughout but didn’t really connect with this game the way he has done previously.
I don’t think this was that bad but it was a shame not to see him thrive in such a high stakes environment and build upon his past performances. Overall, he may feel a little like the Celeste – a good and very memorable tournament, but could an extra bit of composure when it came to the crunch turned it into something quite fantastic?
Refs rating: 6.5/10
Like a bird caught on the electric wires on stadium’s roof, we’ll be tweeting like mad during tomorrow’s game as Victor Kassai takes charge of the clash between the tiki-taka, free flowing Germans against the efficient, workmanlike Spanish side.
That second Dutch goal…I can see, according to the Laws where you could say that was an offside position (the leg). That’s the benefit of instant replay. In real time, at that speed and in that position, if I was the assistant referee, I’d have enough doubt in my mind to keep the flag down. Since a ref is supposed to err on the side of the attacker in these situations, I don’t have a problem with the goal.
BTW, excellent blog. You lay out your judgements quite well, and if I disagree with one or two of your points, at least I know where you’re coming from. Keep up the good work!
Posted from United Kingdom
What really galled about the offside goal was that the same assistant wrongly flagged the Uruguayans three times in the first half, twice when they would have been through on goal.
Normally I would agree that the call was close enough that there shouldn’t be any real complaint. But that one assistant got four close calls wrong and each time favored the Dutch.
Thank you for all your posts, very very informative. I enjoyed the game this morning and completely agree with your assessments.
As a youth referee I have learned some very valuable lessons watching the World Cup and reading your posts.
Who do you think will have the final matches?
I am sad to see Busacca & Rosetti go; I am pulling for Web, Moreno, Archundia or Baldassi.
Second goal: Not offside. Why? At the time the ball is played, VanPersie is even (and if you disagree because of the leg, FIFA strongly insists that the benefit of the doubt goes to the attacker; in real time the AR absolutely follows the FIFA guideline properly).
The ball then deflects off a Uruguayan defender, so VanPersie could not have been offside when the ball reached him. That makes the issue of whether or not he touched the ball or interfered with keeper irrelevant.
By the way, your favorite Hector Baldassi does not deserve the final. He lumbers about the field like an 80 year old (for example, contrast his movements with Irmatov, who is always close–sometimes too close, actually, to play). Bet on Webb or Archundia for the final.
Willard: baldassi is already out, probably thanks to big mouth Maradona, who bashed him for the Villa goal against POR. Anyway, I don’t he is slow, he just does not have the European diagonal move, he is more a freewilling runner. I thought he follows the play up close, but in a non-traditional way.
Andy: I agree w/you about Irmatov not owning this match 100%. He always looked intimidated or timid, still think he is a great ref.
Didn’t like Moreno or Ruiz, betting for Webb, would have put a few chips on Nishimura but he already did the dutch.
My opinion: Referees just tired. They had 5 matches. Last one was on 3rd July… For the tournament like this it’s not enough time for recovering. Anyway, I think Irmatov’s team had great tournament and he has a big future in refereeing.
Here is what I think: There gonna be a huge difference between yesterday’s game and today’s one. Difference in what/where? I have my own way of judging the game. And here I am talking about how the game is culturally rich?! I hope you will understand what I am trying to talk about after watching today’s game and compare it to the yesterday’s one. In case of referees, for the non experienced and the youngest referee it’s not that easy as we are discussing and talking here. I think Irmatov is doing a great job in his career and let him be the best referee in this Cup. Everyone makes mistake, no one is perfect.
This is going by what Belgian TV showed last night.
They looked at the second goal again, frame by frame, focussing on the (lack of) offside. Their conclusion: the FIFA image (broadcast world wide and shown in the image above) is actually a couple of frames too late. The image they showed shows van Persie onside (level with the last man or better), the moment the ball is played. Therefore there was nothing wrong with that goal. They did get a few other off sides decisions wrong though…
I completely agree that it is stunning to see that van Bommel is getting away with that much before getting booked.
Posted from Netherlands
the referee`s decision is made in a split of a second, worryless about people who comment on seeing replays from televion replays well done lmartov you are indeed a star.
Posted from United Kingdom
How well do you know the Laws of the Game?
If any part of VanPersie (except the arms) is closer to the goal line than the second last defender when the ball is played, he was in an offside position.
The fact that the ball deflected off a Uruguayan player has no impact on this since the position is determined when the ball is last played or touched by a player on his own team.
The only question remaining would be whether he was involved in active play by interfering with an opponent.
It is my opinion that he did, by waving his leg at the ball in an attempt to play it and/or obstructing the goalkeepers view of it.
Posted from Canada
Van Persie is in an offside position… and it is good goal. The AR does the proper thing in giving the benefit of the doubt to the attacker. Van Persie also doesn’t play the ball.. look at the fact FIFA gave the goal to Snijder in the first place. Van Persie also does not diatract the keeper and therefore is not involved in live play and was ruled correctly onside… Excellent call Irmatov and crew!
LATEST DESICION OF FIFA – NO OFFSIDE!!! Van Persie was far from goalkeeper and didn’t block his view. One more point – he didn’t touch the ball…
You state the letter of the law accurately but you overlooked my comment about the leg. You may (or may not) be right according to super-slow motion frame-by-frame analysis. But are you as familiar with FIFA Advice to Referees as you are with the LOTG? Again, FIFA clearly and emphatically states that if there is any doubt, if the call is at all close, the AR must keep the flag down.
Apparently FIFA has reaffirmed this position by declaring the AR to be correct and the goal to be good.
You’re wrong about van Persie and offsides. If you look at the still you posted, you can see that the goalkeeper has a clear view of the ball. Van Persie is obstructing no one’s view of it. He *is* between the ball and the goal, but he doesn’t touch the ball and doesn’t prevent anyone else from playing it so he cannot be punished for being in an offside position. It was a great call by the assistant.
I agree with you about van Bommel though. I think I counted seven or eight fouls by him, many pretty hard and then the booking was ultimately for dissent. Bizarre. I also agree with you about the handling of the de Zeeuw/Caceres/Sneijder incident though I wouldn’t have minded a booking for exaggeration at Caceres’ flopping around though he did get up fairly quickly when it was clear there would be no red card for Sneijder.
I thought that other than Irmatov’s handling of van Bommel he and his team were quite good.
I think Caceres was actually booked for flopping (he ended up with a yellow card as a result of the incident).
And van Bommel’s yellow was not for dissent, but for kicking the ball away (allegedly thinking the game was over).
Posted from Netherlands
Comments are closed