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Fine performance from Euro final ref
by Randy Vogt, July 2nd, 2012 12:39AM

TAGS:  european championship, referees

[REF WATCH] In the past year, "Preventive Officiating" author Randy Vogt has chimed in with his opinion on the officiating of the Champions League, Copa America and MLS Cup finals. So today he speaks about the performance of the Portuguese officiating crew during the 2012 Euro final.

The powers that be must truly like the work of 41-year-old referee Pedro Proença from Portugal. He was put in charge of the Champions League final in May that passed without incident and was assigned the Euro final on Sunday.

He has a very calm demeanor and a wonderful ability to blow the whistle a couple of seconds after the foul is committed, looking to play the advantage in nearly all cases. From what I could tell, he missed two calls –– when Mario Balotelli committed an illegal throw-in in the 46th minute by lifting his back foot and, more importantly, a penalty kick for Spain in the 77th minute when Italian defender Federico Balzaretti pushed Spain’s Sergio Ramos.

Regarding illegal throw-ins, refs at the pro level sometimes miss the few infractions because they are not looking for an illegal throw-in.

Regarding the push, it was not even communicated by the additional assistant referee standing just five yards away.

Regarding Spain’s shout for a PK for deliberate handling in the 49th minute, I "referee" games as I watch them live. The camera’s angle was similar to referee Proença’s as he was slightly screened. I thought live that it was best that the ref kept his whistle out of his mouth as the handling by Italy’s Leonardo Bonucci occurred a yard from Ramos’ header and should not be considered deliberate. However, replay from another angle showed Bonucci’s hand was in an unnatural position near his face. It was a very tight call whether a ball headed straight into a defender’s hand near his face was deliberate or not and could have gone either way.

Assistant referees Bertino Mirando and Ricardo Santos did very well as three of the four Spanish goals were tight calls that replay proved were onside just as the ARs had it.

But the biggest story about the officiating during the Euros was the imperfection of the Additional Assistant Referee in one instance in awarding goals. Because of this, I’m expecting goal-line technology to be approved soon.

The ARRs’ role is somewhat similar to what I did as a goal judge in the Major Indoor Soccer League during the 1980s, the first time that I ever officiated pro games. I stood by the goal and pressed a large red button to activate the red goal light whenever a goal was scored. If it was a close play and the ball remained on the goal line, I looked at the closest referee and simply shook my head ‘No.’ It was not too difficult and don’t remember missing a call.

Yet Hungarian ref Istvan Vad missed a very tight call on the Ukrainian goal that wasn’t awarded against England during the Euros as the wonders of goal-line technology proved. Perhaps he missed it because his head was aligned with the goal line and the goal post obstructed his view of the whole ball crossing the whole line. Maybe the biggest lesson is we are all imperfect human beings and although goal-line technology will not bring absolute perfection as it will be dependent on whether the whole ball is visible to the camera plus interpretation, it’s the best solution.

Even with a hockey puck being much smaller than a soccer ball, the NHL has been using goal-line technology with success during the past two decades. I propose that soccer follow a somewhat similar format. If a goal was not allowed by the on-field officials but goal-line technology shows a goal had been scored, the ref is notified during the next stoppage of play and the game would be restarted with a kickoff. Everything that happened after the ball crossed the goal line would be wiped out. In the case of the Ukraine-England game, that would mean the caution to Ukrainian defender Anatoliy Tymoshchuk for a foul would be rescinded. For me, it’s the fairest solution.”

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: July 2, 2012 at 9:25 a.m.
    Randy, I don't think the AAR is to blame for the Ukrainian goal miss. The speed of the ball and the very short period (milliseconds)that the ball stayed behind the line made it almost impossible for any naked eye to detect it. There is a limit to what the eye can see. It's a matter of the physiology of the body. The majority of the other goal-line questions like the England goal in the 2010 WC would be detected easily by the AAR. I believe the AAR had helped in more than 90% of the goal-line controversies. Why add a very expensive technology that you will not be able to apply every where around the world and open can of warms and spoil the viewing of the game for very rare incidents?

  1. Joy Hottington
    commented on: July 2, 2012 at 9:45 a.m.
    I agree with goal line technology, but what happens if the other team scores before the next stoppage? Is that wiped out?

  1. Ken Elliott
    commented on: July 2, 2012 at 10:57 a.m.
    I disagree with the idea of implementing goal line technology. I would prefer, at the highest levels where these things are possible, that we remain with 2 ARs or even with the added AAR, and let the game go as they call it. IF an AR or AAR is found to be consisently wrong, exhibiting a pattern of ineptitude, then he/she loses his position. But that won't happen because the situation where the ball may or may not have crossed the goal line is too rare for a bad assistant to influence enough games to matter.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: July 2, 2012 at 1:57 p.m.
    Goal line technology, if it works, should be used wherever it is possible. This is not an art; I can't imagine any referees who would rather not get every goal line decision right. Additionally, if the goal line technology is instantaneous, I think play should be stopped as soon as the goal has been scored. Why wait for a stoppage, and the necessity to wipe out anything else that had happened (with the scenario Joy mentioned being the nightmare scenario). If it is too expensive to be used everywhere, that's okay (the AAR system is also too expensive to be used everywhere). I generally agree with Randy's assessment of the referees (the ARs on the offside calls were superb), but it also shows the inherent weakness of the AAR system; the handling pk missed (and the ref was clearly screened, so it was not his fault) theoretically should have been picked up by the AAR, but it wasn't. My guess is the AAR will only call the most blatant penalties, generally deferring to the CR; it is a lot to ask of an official who may only make one call a game, but that call may determine the outcome. So while kudos go to the ref crew, had the game finished in a draw (with Spain losing on penalties), those 2 missed fouls in the box might have given the referees a different grade. It just shows how difficult it is to referee a game and get everything right.

  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: July 3, 2012 at 12:45 a.m.
    The ref was superb, and appeared to understand the first rule of reffing -- NEVER give half penalties. Only give penalties, and red cards, when 95% sure. The dubious cases cancel out anyway, and bad penalty kicks and red cards ruin games. Or as Eric Wynalda likes to say, "Players win games, coaches lose them, and refs ruin them."

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