Wednesday’s referee reviewed
If Irmatov was reluctant to show cards last night, Kassai took permisiveness to a new level tonight with his whistle barely warmed by the Hungarian’s lips. But was that to do with a cleanly fought game or an official reluctant to make any big decision that could backfire on him?
Referee: Victor Kassai (Hungary)
Yellow cards: 0
Red cards: 0
Normally for these reviews, I’ll trawl the net for photos of the officials in dramatic situations – raising a scarlet card aloft in front a shocked player, the outstretched finger pointedly aimed at the penalty spot or scooping the Jabulani off its pedestal as he steps out into the booming arena. Today, fittingly, all I could find was a blurred shot of Kassai as the action happens in front of him.
So was Kassai a petrified spectator as fouls unfolded before his eyes or was this a case of two high quality sides, expert in defence and terrific ballwinners? Probably 50%, 50%, the latter to the former. But that isn’t the full story.
Like Irmatov yesterday, Kassai was hoping to end his tournament on a high. But while no one wants to see a referee becoming the major focus of the match, you don’t want him to be a distant, uninterfering figure.
But when the hard tackles started to fly in such as Sergio Ramos’s tread on Lucas Podolski after 28 minutes, Kassai needed to get involved. I’m not saying Ramos needs to be carded (although he should’ve been ehre) but a stiff warning and a foul can go almost as far in curbing a player’s sloppy challenges.
This was by no means an aggressive or overly physical match but there were many more fouls than Kassai blew for and at least a couple of players deserved cards. Xavi Alonso, for one.
German fans will point to the incident at the end of the first-half when Mesut Ozil ran forward onto a pass from Miroslav Klose and was tripped by Ramos. The Mannschaft may feel a penalty was in order but that is not the case here.
The above photo shows Ramos’s challenge beings just outside the area and while I think Kassai was wrong not to blow for a foul, the right place to put the ball for the setpiece would be on the very edge of the area, not on the penalty spot.
There was another moment after the break when Klose fell over Carlos Puyol when chasing a ball into the box but he very much ran into the prone Puyol and it was never an offence in any real sense.
Would these small differences – a caution for Ramos, a dangerous freekick for Germany, really have turned the game? Possibly not but semi-finals like these are decided on small margins and not truly getting knee-deep in the game is a fault on Kassai’s part.
That said, he let the game flow and breath and there were significant portions of the game where, in all honesty, there were no real fouls to call. But a referee is like a lifeguard – he isn’t always in the water but when something goes awry, he needs to be right there, wetting his whistle, as it were.
But this contest didn’t really go off the rails at any stage and it is a tribute to the hard-working, largely good-spirited nature of the players tonight that we saw a well-fought clean battle.
His assistants were a little sleepy today and were slow to react at times, not always making the right call. For example, Ozil’s early burst foward during the game was ludicriously given as offside.
This was a tad better than Irmatov yesterday as there were no howlers from the officials and while the foul count was too low, it would have been on the smaller side anyway.
For example, take into consideration that there have been three games at the finals with the same or less fouls than tonight – Argentina against Nigeria and then very intriguiningly Germany’s game with Ghana and, with the least of all the matches, Low’s side’s second round match against England. It hasn’t been said enough before in South Africa but despite Klose’s sending off, this German side are very well disciplined and rarely offer up simulation and cynical play.
Overall however, while I don’t think this was Kassai’s greatest hour (and a half), he passes his test with a couple of minors but no majors and in the knowledge that by in the large, the right team won on the night. In a tournament where officials have often been criticised, that is at least a respectable way to end a good finals for the Hungarian and we can pencil him in for the European Championships already.
Refs rating: 7/10
So we’ll soon find out who will get the big one (and the little one that no one really cares about) as FIFA announce their officials for the final two games. Will it be Archundia, Webb, Nishimura, Damon, Baldassi or none of the above? Either way, it is a huge honour for whoever it is, and we’ll be announcing it (along with plenty of other stuff) on our twitter page
I thought his sideline team had a mediocre night. They flagged Capdevila for offside when he wasn’t and then shortly after didn’t flag him when he was clearly offside. I didn’t catch the Ozul offside, so can’t comment, but they just seemed a bit behind the play all game.
Posted from Canada
I thought a bigger error than the Ozil non-call was the non-call on the foul of Schweinstiger in the “D” late in the match. Schweini pushed the ball into the area and started after it, only to be felled. Even if he would not have gotten to it, he would have been able to pressurize the Spanish defense.
P.S. This game should have had de Bleeckere (the 4th official) or Busaca.
Sunday’s final: It will be Archudia, Webb, or Nishimura. Nishimura had an excellent tournament but seems to have flown under the radar. Good summary of Kassai. His tendency to whistle but give no signal whatsoever was annoying.
Your comments regarding Ramos’ challenge on Ozil in the first half are off point, as far as the Laws of the Game are concerned. While you’ve correctly identified that the infraction occurred outside of the box, the punishment that is suggested (caution) would be incorrect. Ramos would have to be sent off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (not a “small difference”), thus creating a far different game than the one we were privy to.
If one believes that this challenge is to be a foul, than a 7/10 may be too gracious.
I agree with Don, the non-call on Schweinsteiger late in the match was a foul, and a free kick there could have changed the match. Perhaps Kassai had been lulled to sleep like the rest of us watching Spain tap the ball around and wasn’t as sharp as he might of been in a tougher game. I didn’t think the Ozil incident was a foul, so IMO he got that right, and there wasn’t any real nasty stuff that warranted cautions. I just thought that at the crtical moment near the end, he missed what could have been a game changing call, and we all know that the best referees get those right. Howard Webb for the final.
I thought Kassai and his team were worse than Irmatov and his team. Kassai had very little to do and he didn’t do all that he should have. He should have booked Ramos on at least two occasions.
It was penalty though for the challenge on Oezil. Ramos’ challenge begins outside the box, but continues to at least over the penalty area line and probably a little over the line. Since the line is part of the area, it should have been a penalty, but then Kassai didn’t even blow for a kick outside the area even though he was right there.
His assistants missed quite a few offsides calls with the near side assistant (from ESPN’s TV camera’s perspective) much worse than the far side assistant.
You are correct that the better team won. Spain were clearly better. Germany without Mueller, who should have been able to play if not for the bizarre card given by Irmatov in an otherwise excellent performance by him during Germany v. Argentina, were just not good enough to break Spain down. Plus, letting Puyol get two excellent headers when there are German defenders way taller than him is just poor defending.
It’s Webb for the Final and Archundia for 3rd place match. Info up on FIFA.COM web site as of late this morning (GMT -4).
Posted from United States
I am not happy with referees they must to be train well for the next world cup in Brazil
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