VAR on the agenda for the IFAB ABM

The IFAB has confirmed the agenda for the forthcoming Annual Business Meeting (ABM) which will take place at Home of FIFA in Zurich on Monday, 22 January 2018. The main focus of the meeting will be on video assistant referees (VARs) and members will discuss the latest results from the experiment and the scientific study report from the Belgian university KU Leuven which has been conducting an independent analysis of the use of VARs, including data from all participating countries and competitions since the start of the experiment in March 2016. The IFAB and FIFA administrations will also provide detailed reports on the VAR experiment including the key learning areas and experience from the two-year trial period. Based on the analysis and evaluation of all relevant data and information, the Board may make a recommendation for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) to consider on whether the use of VARs in football should be permitted and, if it is, how the use of VARs can be made accessible to as many competitions as possible.
The ABM will also assess the impact of the amendments made to the Laws of the Game implemented in 2017/18 and consider the amendments proposed for the 2018/2019 edition. Additional agenda items include an update on the two-year experiment with additional substitutes in extra time, the use of electronic and communication equipment in the technical area as well as an update on the development of the FIFA Quality Programme for electronic performance and tracking systems (EPTS). Furthermore, the members will discuss which Play Fair! topics could be further explored, following the first feedbacks received from various stakeholders and trials since the launch of the initiative. The ABM prepares and agrees on topics and material for the AGM, the meeting which has exclusive authority to make changes to football’s Laws of the Game. The next AGM will take place in Zurich, on 2 March 2018.

Source: IFAB

Recopa Sudamericana 2018

First Leg, 14 February 2018

Independiente – Gremio
Referee: Roddy Zambrano (ECU, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Byron Romero (ECU)
Assistant Referee 2: Christian Lescano (ECU)
Fourth Official: Luis Quiroz (ECU)
VAR 1: Mario Díaz de Vivar (PAR)
VAR 2: Milciades Saldívar (PAR)
AVAR: Roberto Tobar (CHI)
Referee Assessor: Alberto Tejada (PER)

Second Leg, 21 February 2018

Gremio – Independiente
Referee: Enrique Caceres (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Cardozo (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Zorrilla (PAR)
Fourth Official: Eber Aquino (PAR)
VAR 1: Andres Cunha (URU)
VAR 2: Nicolas Taran (URU)
AVAR: Jose Argote (VEN)
Referee Assessor: Ubaldo Aquino (PAR)

CONCACAF Program of Refereeing Excellence produces results

The word “development” in football is associated most often with players. For example, a Member Association will introduce a new program that focuses the development of youth footballers’ skills. Development, however, also pertains to referees. The match officials are key to any effectively presented match. It is common for them to receive a degree of scrutiny just as intense as those they oversee on the pitch. Earlier this month, three alumni of the inaugural CONCACAF Program of Refereeing Excellence (PORE) – Ivan Barton (El Salvador, photo), Oshane Nation (Jamaica) and Reon Radix (Grenada) – earned FIFA status. “The success of the Program of Referee Excellence can be seen in the results,” said Brian Hall, CONCACAF’s Director of Refereeing. “CONCACAF is proud that three inaugural course graduates have earned the special recognition of becoming a FIFA Referee. Earning the FIFA badge is not an easy task and takes a tremendous amount of focus, dedication, passion, and commitment. It is clear that Oshane, Ivan, and Reon have committed themselves to excellence both on and off the field.”
In January 2017, CONCACAF launched PORE in conjunction with the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol (FMF). Over the course of two separate four-week sessions at the FMF headquarters in Toluca, ending in October 2017, 13 top national-level referees were trained by professional Mexican referees and FIFA instructors. The participants – each between 18 and 25 years old – were required to pass the FIFA Referee Fitness Test the first week of both sessions at high altitude in Mexico City. They were immersed into a total football environment, attending daily field/classroom technical sessions, as well as specialized classes in English, social media, nutrition, leadership and other life skills. The referees were also appointed to officiate games in the Mexican second division or below and were given feedback on their work. Thanks to PORE’s success, Hall is confident that the program will generate even more positive results. “I am certain that the future will see many more PORE graduates excelling and representing their member association on the world stage”, he finished.


Banned for life, referee Lamptey had 6 years of match-fixing history

A FIFA investigation linked a referee accused of match-fixing a World Cup qualifier in 2016 to “numerous publicly documented scandals” in the previous six years. FIFA investigators said Joseph Lamptey of Ghana had “a history of being suspended for poor performances” before being banned for life and typically awarded more penalty kicks than any other African referees of his grade. A common match-fixing tactic is for referees to award penalty kicks after non-existent fouls or handball incidents to help betting syndicates cash in bets on the number of goals scored.
"This conduct – and its repeated occurrence – establishes a clear and consistent pattern behavior for matches refereed by Mr. Lamptey,” investigators wrote in a document published by FIFA on Monday. Still, Lamptey remained eligible for World Cup qualifying duty on FIFA’s international list requiring annual approval, and also by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Ghana’s soccer federation. FIFA did not immediately respond to questions about how Lamptey came to be selected for the South Africa-Senegal qualifier in November 2016. Portugal’s 2-2 draw in Gabon in a 2012 friendly, which included three penalties scored, was among six games identified as suspicious that Lamptey handled before the game that ended his career. His decisions in South Africa’s 2-1 win – helping the home team score twice late in the first half – led FIFA to ban him for life and order a replay. Lamptey’s history is detailed in evidence to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose detailed verdict to explain why it dismissed his appeal last August has now been published by FIFA. ”This CAS decision underlines FIFA’s commitment to protecting the integrity of football and its zero-tolerance policy on match manipulation,” FIFA said in a statement. However, suspicions about Lamptey’s conduct dated back to African club matches organized by CAF in 2010, Portugal’s visit to Libreville without Cristiano Ronaldo in 2012, and a September 2016 qualifier for the African Cup of Nations, in which Cameroon beat Gambia 2-0, the FIFA investigation concluded. Footage of the Portugal game shows that, at 1-1 close to halftime, Lamptey initially awarded a goal to Gabon despite the ball never even touching the goal-line before it was grabbed by the goalkeeper. Portugal captain Pepe urged the referee to consult his assistant before the goal was disallowed. ”Mr. Lamptey displayed specific conduct and actions on the pitch which were anticipated on the international betting markets by bettors which seemed to hold prior knowledge of goal given by Mr. Lamptey,” the FIFA investigative report said. In his final international game, Lamptey helped South Africa’s goals from a penalty awarded for a non-existent handball, and after the Senegal defense was unbalanced by him allowing a free kick to be taken quickly and far from where the foul was committed. The referee’s lawyers argued at CAS that he made innocent mistakes, however betting monitoring experts detailed how the pattern of wagers was suspicious. From the 12th minute until South Africa scored in the 43rd, the odds for at least three goals to be scored “failed to increase as logically expected.” Senegal won the replayed game 2-0 in November, and eventually qualified to play at the World Cup in Russia.

Source: AP

PRO named Webb as General Manager

PRO today announced that following General Manager Peter Walton’s successful professionalization of match officials both in the United States and Canada, the organization has named Video Review Operations Manager Howard Webb as the new GM effective Thursday, 18 January 2018.
As the leader of PRO since inception in 2012, Walton has cultivated the structural framework and provided essential resources through support staff, training, education, and welfare, all of which will continue with Webb at the helm. Walton will remain involved as a consultant, and Manager of Assistant Referees Greg Barkey will continue his current role while taking on additional responsibilities as Manager of Senior Assistant Referees and Video Review Operations. “Developing PRO into the organization that it is today has been a tremendous honor,” said Walton. “Our officials have more resources than ever before, and their world-class training has been rewarded with opportunities at the highest levels both in the CONCACAF region and globally. I have incredible faith that Howard Webb will continue to lead this organization with referees reaching even higher standards and realizing many more ground breaking achievements”.
Since Webb joined the organization in March 2017, PRO and MLS successfully implemented video review into 154 MLS games last season with Video Assistant Referee (VARs) becoming the fifth member of officiating crews league-wide. In addition, PRO referee Mark Geiger was named VAR for the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi. The extensive training in video review and overall match preparedness has resulted in two PRO referees being retained on the FIFA World Cup shortlist for the first time in organization history. “Peter Walton and I have been friends for a very long time, and our respect for one another has only grown stronger as we’ve collaborated to continue the improvement of officiating standards over the last year,” said Webb. “We have great opportunity with the growth of the game here, and I look forward to drawing upon my experiences to provide the best possible training, resources, and technologies as we strive to become the global standard.” Prior to Webb joining PRO, the world-renowned former FIFA referee had a strong track record of leadership in officiating organizations. He oversaw the development of referees in the English Premier League, English Football League (EFL), and Football Association (FA) as Technical Director for the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), He also served as the Saudi Arabian Football Federation Director of Referees. Webb’s remarkable 25-year officiating career featured more than 500 combined matches in the English Premier League and Football League, and his landmark 2010 season remains the only instance of a referee officiating both a UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup Final in the same year.

Source: PRO

World’s Best Futsal Referee 2017: Tomic (CRO)

1. Sasa Tomic (CRO, photo) 714 p.
2. Bogdan Sorescu (ROU) 505 p.
3. Dario Santamaria (ARG) 451 p.
4. Tomohiro Kozaki (JPN) 358 p.
5. Daniel Rodriguez (URU) 296 p.
6. Nurdin Bukuev (KGZ) 266 p.
7. Mohamed Hassan (EGY) 170 p.
8. Carlos Gonzalez (GUA) 169 p.
9. Christopher Sinclair (NZL) 104 p.
10. Rex Kamusu (SOL) 90 p.

Source: Futsal Planet

French referee Chapron kicks out at Nantes player before sending him off

Ligue 1 referee Tony Chapron has been suspended after being caught kicking out at Diego Carlos and then sending off the Nantes player following an apparently accidental collision between the pair during their clash with Paris St-Germain.
Chapron aimed a kick at the Nantes defender while on the floor after the pair accidentally collided in added time at the Stade de la Beaujoire. Carlos was shown a second yellow card, apparently for dissent, a decision that left the hosts baffled. The player's dismissal was overturned on Monday. Chapron had been due to take charge of Wednesday's Ligue 1 game between Angers and Troyes, but will now sit out "until further notice," a Referees' Technical Directorate (DTA) statement confirmed on Monday. The decision was made after a phone call between DTA director Pascal Garibian and the president of the Federal Refereeing Commission (CFA), Eric Borghini. According to L'Equipe, Chapron, 45, has sent a report to the football authorities and acknowledged he made a mistake in showing Carlos a second yellow card in added time at the end of Nantes' 1-0 defeat. 
In a statement released via French media on Monday, Chapron apologised to Carlos for his actions, writing: "This maladroit gesture was inappropriate. As a result, I would like to present my apologies to Diego Carlos. A complementary report has been sent to the disciplinary commission so that the booking received by the FC Nantes player be rescinded, as the images showed me his gesture did not seem voluntary. During the match, I collided with Diego Carlos. At the moment of impact, I had a very sharp pain on a recent injury. It was bad reflex action that meant I stuck my leg out at the player". Garibian criticized Chapron's "loss of control" in the incident. "His action was unacceptable," Garibian told L'Equipe. "I will not say more than that; it is for the LFP disciplinary commission to decide on. It was a bad reaction. He lost control of his emotions in the context of the fall. As a provisional measure, he will not be available to take charge of matches until the end of the [disciplinary] process." French referees organisation SAFE said it would stand with Chapron through the proceedings but acknowledged his fault in the incident. "Tony Chapron reacted badly. Even if he is not an aggressive character, his gesture was inappropriate," a statement said. "He has apologized to Mr. Diego Carlos Santos Silva. He has also addressed the second booking in an updated report and explained that the dismissal should not stand. Referees must know how to handle their responsibilities on the pitch in highly pressurized situations but also away from the pitch if they realize that they handled an incident poorly".

Source: ESPN

AFC U-23 Championship 2018

China, 9-27 January 2018

1. Chris Beath (AUS, photo)
2. Peter Green (AUS)
3. Nawaf Shukralla (BHR)
4. Fu Ming (CHN)
5. Ma Ning (CHN)
6. Liu Kwok Man (HKG)
7. Alireza Faghani (IRN)
8. Ali Sabah (IRQ)
9. Mohanad Sarray (IRQ)
10. Ryuji Sato (JPN)
11. Jumpei Iida (JPN)
12. Adham Makhadmeh (JOR)
13. Kim Dong-Jin (KOR)
14. Ko Hyung-Jin (KOR)
15. Ahmed Al-Kaf (OMA)
16. Abdulrahman Al-Jassim (QAT)
17. Khamis Al-Marri (QAT)
18. Fahad Al-Mirdasi (KSA)
19. Turki Al-Khudhayr (KSA)
20. Muhammad Taqi (SIN)
21. Hettikamkanamge Perera (SRI)
22. Mohammed Abdulla (UAE)
23. Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)
24. Valentin Kovalenko (UZB)

Assistant Referees
1. Matthew Cream (AUS)
2. Ebrahim Saleh (BHR)
3. Yaser Tulefat (BHR)
4. Cao Yi (CHI)
5. Huo Weiming (CHI)
6. Mohammadreza Mansouri (IRN)
7. Reza Sokhandan (IRN)
8. Yagi Akane (JPN)
9. Toru Sagara (JPN)
10. Ahmad Al-Roalle (JOR)
11. Yoon Kwang-yeol (KOR)
12. Sergei Grishchenko (KGZ)
13. Mohd Yusri Mohamad (MAS)
14. Abu Bakar Al-Amri (OMA)
15. Saud Al-Maqaleh (QAT)
16. Taleb Al-Marri (QAT)
17. Mohammed Al-Abakry (KSA)
18. Abdullah Al-Shalawi (KSA)
19. Koh Min Kiat (SIN)
20. Palitha Hemathunga (SRI)
21. Mohamed Al-Hammadi (UAE)
22. Hasan Al-Mahri (UAE)
23. Abdukhamidullo Rasulov (UZB)
24. Jakhongir Saidov (UZB)

Support Referees
1. Minoru Tojo (JPN)
2. Ilgiz Tantashev (UZB)

Support Assistant Referees
1. Ahmad Ali (SYR)
2. Nguyen Trung Hau (VIE)

The oldest FIFA match official in 2018: Kochkarov (KGZ)

At 48, Bakhadyr Kochkarov (KGZ) is currently the oldest match official on the FIFA List. Former assistant referee in Ravshan Irmatov’s team at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, Kochkarov (photo) was born in 1970 and, although still active, will not participate in his third World Cup. Martin Atkinson (ENG) and Ali Alsamaheeji (BHR), both born in 1971, are the oldest FIFA referees still active. On the Assistant Referees List there are five FIFA ARs born in 1971: Hugush Mohammed (ERI), Angesom Ogbamariam (ERI), Belachew Yetayew (ETH), Marvin Torrentera (MEX) and Konrad Sapela (POL). Interesting is that Torrentera, 47, has been selected for the 2018 World Cup. Finally, there is only one Futsal referee older than 45, Elchin Samadli (AZE) and also only one, Libor Kastanek (CZE), on the Beach Soccer List, both of them born in 1971.

I got it wrong: referee admits error in Northern Ireland's World Cup play-off

The referee who awarded Switzerland their all-important penalty against Northern Ireland in the World Cup play-off has admitted that he made a mistake. Ovidiu Hategan adjudged Corry Evans to have handled Xherdan Shaqiri's shot inside the area during the second half of the first leg at Windsor Park. Ricardo Rodríguez tucked away the spot-kick to score the only goal of the tie and end Northern Ireland's hopes of a place in Russia.
It was a decision that also ended Hategan's hopes of making it onto the pitch in Russia, as he was subsequently left off FIFA's 36-strong panel of officials."It's not a secret and I'm not hiding," he said. "It was a sad, unpleasant moment for me, sad because I made the mistake. It's painful because for three and a half years I had some results and very good benefits with my team". Hategan didn't rule out going to Russia as a Video Assistant Referee, with the new technology possibly set to be used and 10 more officials expected to be named.