Urs Meier: “You will be happy if nothing has happened”

Serbian referee Milorad Mazic will take charge of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Kiev on May 26 and it will be the biggest match the 45-year-old has officiated, having overseen last year's FIFA Confederations Cup final and the 2016 UEFA Super Cup.
ESPN spoke with former referee Urs Meier, who took charge of the 2002 final between Real and Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park, for insight into what it's like to be the man in the middle of such a huge occasion.
Q. When you find out you're going to be officiating a Champions League final, what's the feeling like?
A. As a referee you know you've only got one Champions League final and a lot of top referees never reach it. It's really something special. The pressure is much higher than in the semi-finals because the whole world will look on this final and you know there is no chance for mistakes.
Q. In terms of preparing for the game, Liverpool have been in Spain doing some warm-weather training. Does something similar happen for referees?
A. It's a good idea to relax and get the mind free from the final. If you can, you try to go away with your family and not think about the final or football. Not thinking too much about the final is very important. As a referee, I think it's always good to go to a place where you are happy. If you're happy in the mountains or by the sea, you have to go there for three, four or five days and enjoy a good hotel, good food and then you are all relaxed. Your mind is free from the pressure and you can start [to prepare] for Kiev.
Q. Do you do homework on the game itself? For example, studying the players on each team?
A. All these referees [in consideration] for the final are really experienced. They've watched other referees for these teams and they have watched the teams on the television in the semi-finals, quarter-finals for many years. You know exactly the teams and the players that are playing. For me, there was not special preparation for my final because I knew the Real Madrid team and I knew the Leverkusen side. I knew exactly what I had to look for.
Q. With all the pressure that's on the officials, how do you are feel in the hours before the game?
A. The night before the game it's better if you can go to a very good restaurant to eat some good food together with your team and the delegates from UEFA. There has to be a relaxed atmosphere in this restaurant. Sometimes it's better that you drink good wine the night before, but not too much, of course - a good glass of red wine. Then you have to go to bed in a good hotel and have to sleep, not thinking too much about the final or football. When you do think about the final you're thinking with positive pictures, not negative. In my preparation for all the important games, I always had the same pictures in my mind before sleeping. It was at the final whistle and both teams went to each other and shook hands, the people in the stadium stood up and gave a big hand for the teams and also the referee. Everybody was happy. This was always my picture when I went to bed, not what could happen if I miss a handball, miss a penalty or send off a player with a wrong red card. The next day is more or less the same. You get up, have a good breakfast with your team. You go to the stadium, make a small city tour with the delegates, and have a good lunch. Then you go to bed for two or three hours, relax and then you prepare with your team and go to the stadium. It's more or less the same procedure in the other games. You can't change something because it's the final. You have to think that it's a normal game.
Q. After a long wait you lead the teams out and walk past the trophy. That must be a proud moment?
A. In this time you're happy that you can finally go to the pitch. The pressure was before. The problem always in the Euros, World Cup and Champions League final is that you have a lot of people - a lot of very important people - who come from UEFA, from everywhere to your dressing room with a lot of questions about the balls, the kits, etc. In a normal game - the semi-final, for example - you have a maximum of three or four people in the dressing room. In a final like this, you have 10 people come in with some questions. You're really happy when you can finally get to the pitch. It's a special moment when you walk in the stadium with the teams, the cup is there, the ball is there and all the atmosphere is fantastic. You are part of the final and you know this is the moment to start the whole ceremony. You're happy and proud.
Q. Then when the game has finally kicked off, do you notice any difference in the behaviour of players during the game?
A. In finals, normally the behaviour of players is better than in the semi-finals or quarter-finals because they know they are in focus. Normally the players in the finals are really polite and it's different. [It's like] the semi-finals and quarter-finals are normal working days for the players and the final is a Sunday, so they come into church and are more polite! It's the same with the coaches.
Q. We often see players go down with cramp in finals, especially when it goes to extra-time. Does fatigue play a part with referees, too?
A. For the referees, of course, but they have to have enough physical power to make extra-time and to be fit in the mind. If they are not able to do this, it would be a disaster in extra-time. You have to be concentrated, especially in this time. It's always the same. The good referees are strong at the end of the game, not just in the beginning. At the end of the game they have to be very strong because the players are not as fit as they were in the beginning. So they make more mistakes and are sometimes one second or one metre too late and have to do something special - holding, pushing or make a foul. In this time you have to be strong and fit as a referee. This is the difference between a good referee and a very good referee.
Q. Then when you blow the final whistle, it must be great relief?
A. Normally you know exactly after the final whistle if you've had a good game or a not-so-good game. If you've had a good game then you're really happy. Sometimes when you go from the pitch to the dressing room and you are out of the focus from the cameras, the people, the whole pressure goes away and you are crying because you are so happy with this performance - not only for yourself, but for your team of officials. In the other case, you know exactly if a team or both teams aren't happy - perhaps it was a mistake in a crucial situation and you got it wrong. Sometimes you are really alone in the dressing room. Nobody is speaking with you, the delegates come in and it's a heavy atmosphere - nobody is happy. You know the critics will be huge on you. This is really the worst thing that can happen to a referee in such a game. After 20-25 years, it's your biggest moment in your career and you've worked for such a moment. You'll be happy if nothing has happened.

Source: ESPN

Sanchez Arminio replaced by Velasco Carballo as the new CTA President

On the day when he was elected RFEF president, Luis Rubiales was clear that there will be changes in the Spanish refereeing: "There will be changes. The best that Sánchez Arminio could do is to resign, as he supported Larrea". Well, the president of the CTA did not like the form or the place chosen by Rubiales to send him his request, which is why he refused to resign. Arminio considered that this was a lack of respect for a person who has dedicated his whole life to refereeing and the CTA itself. He considered that there was no reason to submit his resignation and, even less, in the current circumstances. In addition, he feels appreciated and recognized by the referee group, which recognizes his legacy. Rubiales had no choice but to declare his dismissal and this has happened. This Tuesday, he appointed Velasco Carballo, as anticipated. But there will be more changes. Diaz Vega would not continue as technical director, since it could be covered by Medina Cantalejo or Rubinos, although the latter also count for the Segunda B and Third Division, among whose functions is the recruitment of new talents. Clos Gómez will be director of the VAR and Marisa Villa would continue to lead the women's refereeing. All dismissals and appointments will be formalized at the first meeting of the Board of Directors chaired by Luis Rubiales. (Source: Iusport)

Velasco Carballo: "We need a 21st century refereeing"
The Spanish referees have a new boss. Carlos Velasco Carballo (Madrid, 1971) is the one elected by the new president of the RFEF to chair the Technical Committee. He replaces Victoriano Sánchez Arminio, who has spent more than two decades leading with a heavy hand a collective often weighed down by Villar's resistance to modernization. Everything is going to change now. In fact, Velasco Carballo can boast of having arrived at his post not because of a loyal fidelity and defense of the leader, as in other times, but exclusively because of his preparation. He was even working for La Liga (with the VAR), and, despite the differences that Rubiales and Tebas maintain, this has not prevented them from choosing him for the position.
- How will the refereeing change now, after 25 years of Victoriano Sánchez Arminio?
- Well, we are starting from the legacy that he has transmitted to the Committee and, from there, continue building on it. The main ideas are to invest a lot in training, transparency is one of our priorities, we are closer to the environment, we support the referees of the future (without them we will not succeed). You have to train and help the territories.
- And more modernity, I suppose. 
- Of course, new technologies. Modernize and professionalize the referee structure. We need a 21st century refereeing, where we are leaders internationally. It is one of the strong bets we have and I believe that my international positions can help that. 
- Of the few things that Rubiales advanced as soon as he was named, he wanted the referees to retire at age 47. Do you agree? 
- Well, in all the operative things of the future, my priority will always be that the CTA revolves around the referees. They are the center and the others are our support. I would like to sit down with the referees and, among all of us, let's see what the main lines that affect the entire group are. We will analyze all the consequences that could be derived and we will make the best decision. 
- A question people ask themselves on the street: when we will be able to see a woman referee in Spanish professional soccer? 
- All weekends they referee in Spain in other categories. Evidently, one of the great bets of the RFEF is women's football and, within it, also in the CTA. It will remain a priority. I would like to see a Spanish woman referee appointed to a Champions League final and World Cups (although we already had an assistant referee in a World Cup final - Yolanda Parga). 
- So we do not risk much if we say that during Velasco Carballo's term we will see women officiating in Primera Division? 
- During the mandate of Velasco Carballo, we will be very strong for female referees and we will help with all our strength, especially because I believe a lot in them. 
- Are referees going to talk more? Are we going to know them better? 
- My clear answer is that my intention is that they should be closer to the environment, that we know each other more, that people know how we work and how we prepare ourselves, because that helps a lot to understand our profession and, with that, also understand our mistakes and our hits, which are many more. The clear intention is that it be so. 
- The way to make the referee appointments for the matches, will it change? 
- At the moment it is included in the collaboration agreement between La Liga and the RFEF, so today there is no debate. It is something that has always been discussed and discussed, and we have always said that any system of appointing the referees have done well. They have adapted to everyone, so it will be studied in the future, but we have always responded to any system. 
- The last question. A madrileño. Would you understand that your appointment raised some suspicion in Barcelona
- I am sure that the people who know me and have followed my career for more than 30 years in football know my professionalism. For a referee there are no colors, there are no territories or there is nothing more than two teams among which you try to do justice every weekend. After 30 years, I do not need to defend my honesty or my impartiality. It is proven by my trajectory, I do not think it is necessary to bring it up, this is the truth. (Source: Marca)

Whistle Stop Tour 2018

Premier League referee Martin Atkinson is swapping his whistle for wheels this summer as he embarks on an epic 1700 mile cycle from England to Russia for the World Cup. Martin will be flanked by fellow riders Mike Tomlinson and Darren Clark, representing the Jane Tomlinson Appeal for the duration of the ride, and as in 2016, the riders will again be supported by Chris Sanders from 1st Class Events and Barry Phillipson from Smart Therapy Studios, the trio will be joined by other riders throughout their journey, including Atkinson’s fellow professional referee Jon Moss, Jim Butters, who led the 2016 challenge, Paul Edmondson, and Mick McGuire from James Grant Sports.
The #WhistleStopTour2018 starts at St. George’s Park on Monday, June 11, and the team will travel through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Poland before reaching their destination in Kaliningrad 18 days later to watch England face Belgium in their World Cup clash on Thursday, June 28. The ride is all in the name of charity, with the money raised being split between the St David’s Hospice Care Newport, University Hospitals - Coventry & Warwickshire Charity, Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation and The Jane Tomlinson Appeal. Atkinson said: “It’s going to be a huge challenge, but it’s one I think we’re all relishing. In 2016 we cycled to all 20 Premier League grounds, which totalled around 1000 miles, so we’re really upping the ante for this one. We’ve been saying it’ll be 18 days of hurt, but it’s all for some brilliant charities, so we’re ready to go through that pain barrier! We want to raise as much money as we possibly can, so any donation, large or small would be gratefully received”.

Source: WST2018

OFC Champions League Final 2018 (Second Leg)

20 May 2018

Lautoka – Wellington
Referee: Norbert Hauata (TAH, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Philippe Revel (TAH)
Assistant Referee 2: Bertrand Brial (NCL)
Fourth Official: David Yareboinen (PNG)

Copa Libertadores – Group Stage (Matchday 8)

22-24 May 2018

Universidad de Chile – Vasco Da Gama
Referee: Gery Vargas (BOL, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Edwar Saavedra (BOL)
Assistant Referee 2: Reluy Vallejos (BOL)
Fourth Official: Ivo Méndez (BOL)
Referee Assessor: Martín Vásquez (URU)

Cruzeiro – Racing Club
Referee: Andrés Rojas (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Alexander Guzmán (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Eduardo Díaz (COL)
Fourth Official: Carlos Herrera (COL)
Referee Assessor: Carlos Torres (PAR)

Cerro Porteño – Monagas
Referee: Fernando Espinoza (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Ezequiel Brailovsky (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Maximiliano Del Yesso (ARG)
Fourth Official: Fernando Echenique (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Hugo Muñoz (CHI)

Gremio – Defensor Sporting
Referee: Nicolás Gallo (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Humberto Clavijo (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Dionisio Ruiz (COL)
Fourth Official: Carlos Betancur (COL)
Referee Assessor: Rodolfo Otero (ARG)

River Plate – Flamengo
Referee: Andres Cunha (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Mauricio Espinosa (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Nicolas Taran (URU)
Fourth Official: Jonathan Fuentes (URU)
Referee Assessor: Ubaldo Aquino (PAR)

Emelec – Independiente Santa Fe 

Referee: Piero Maza (CHI)
Assistant Referee 1: Carlos Astroza (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Christian Schiemann (CHI)
Fourth Official: Eduardo Gamboa (CHI)
Referee Assessor: César Escano (PER)

Santos – Real Garcilaso
Referee: Alexis Herrera (VEN)
Assistant Referee 1: Luis Murillo (VEN)
Assistant Referee 2: Jorge Urrego (VEN)
Fourth Official: Marlon Escalante (VEN)
Referee Assessor: Manuel Bernal (PAR)

Estudiantes De La Plata – Nacional
Referee: Mario Diaz de Vivar (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Cardozo (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Dario Gaona (PAR)
Fourth Official: Julio Quintana (PAR)
Referee Assessor: Carlos Herrera (ECU)

Atlético Nacional – Colo Colo
Referee: Néstor Pitana (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Hernan Maidana (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Belatti (ARG)
Fourth Official: Silvio Trucco (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Candelario Andarcia (VEN)

Bolívar – Delfín
Referee: Wilton Sampaio (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Rodrigo Correa (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Alessandro Rocha (BRA)
Fourth Official: Dewson Freitas (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Saúl Laverni (ARG)

Corinthians – Millonarios
Referee: Diego Haro (PER)
Assistant Referee 1: Raul Lopez (PER)
Assistant Referee 2: Victor Raez (PER)
Fourth Official: Miguel Santivañez (PER)
Referee Assessor: Darío Ubriaco (URU)

Independiente – Deportivo Lara
Referee: Eber Aquino (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Rodney Aquino (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Milciades Saldívar (PAR)
Fourth Official: Arnaldo Samaniego (PAR)
Referee Assessor: Francisco Mondría (CHI)

UEFA Women’s U-17 Euro Final 2018: Grundbacher (SUI)

Swiss referee Désirée Grundbacher will make an important step forward when she takes charge of Monday's UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final in Lithuania. From an international player to an international referee – Désirée Grundbacher has been able to see football from both sides. The 34-year-old from Switzerland is relishing the latest stage on her career path, which comes on Monday when she leads the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final between Germany and Spain in Marijampole, Lithuania. Grundbacher, who comes from the town of Effretikon, near Zurich, made 13 appearances as a midfielder for the Swiss national women's team, and says that her experiences at the higher levels as a player have been vital in helping her to forge a career as a referee. "You understand how players react, and you understand about situations in a match," she says – and admits that when she was a player, she often had a word or two to say to the officials during matches. "I didn't always give referees as much respect as I should have, to be honest. As a referee, it's clear that you learn a lot about respect – showing respect to players, and learning people management skills which mean that the players can respect you." The assignment in Marijampole sees Grundbacher, an international referee since 2012, fulfilling a major ambition. "I wanted to referee at a tournament such as this one – and I've really enjoyed this experience. I've learned a great amount." Grundbacher is following in the footsteps of other distinguished Swiss female referees – Nicole Pétignat, who was the first female official to take charge of a UEFA men's competition match in 2003, and Esther Staubli, who officiated at last year's UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 final. "Esther is a very good friend; we often train together, and she's given me a lot of good advice," she says. The WU17 final team sees Grundbacher accompanied by assistants Elodie Coppola (France) and Almira Spahić (Bosnia and Herzegovina), with Lucie Šulcová (Czech Republic) acting as fourth official. "We've been a great family at the tournament," Grundbacher reflects, fully appreciating the chance to work and talk about experiences together with counterparts from other countries. Away from refereeing, Grundbacher has a very special person in her life – her two-year-old son Mael Jése. "I spend so much time playing with him, and he's always wanting to play football," she says proudly. As for the future, she hopes the tournament in Lithuania will be a major stepping stone towards a long and fulfilling career. "I'm so happy about being selected for the final, it was a wonderful surprise," she says. "I've worked very hard to get to this stage. In the future, I will take everything step by step – and I will certainly look forward to every game I referee". (Source: UEFA

21 May 2018 
Germany – Spain
Referee: Désirée Grundbacher (SUI)
Assistant Referee 1: Elodie Coppola (FRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Almira Spahić (BIH)
Fourth Official: Lucie Šulcová (CZE)

UEFA U-17 Euro Final 2018: Meler (TUR)

On Wednesday, Björn Kuipers took charge of his second UEFA Europa League final, having also refereed the 2014 UEFA Champions League decider and UEFA Super Cup - but it all started for the Dutch official at the 2006 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. That year Kuipers, in his first full season as an international referee, was appointed for the final in Luxembourg between Russia and the Czech Republic. On Sunday, 31-year-old Halil Umut Meler from Turkey will follow in Kuipers' footsteps as he referees the U17 final between Italy and the Netherlands in Rotherham. "I am very proud to referee the final," Meler told UEFA.com. "It is the biggest target and the big dream for all the referees here. But I know it is the beginning of a long path. I will do my best and enjoy the final." This will be Meler's fourth game at the finals in England, having handled three group fixtures, and he has enjoyed the experience both at the matches and at the referees' base near Derby. "It has been perfect for me and my colleagues, amazing," he said. "This is the international arena – amazing organisation. I am so happy to be here. I have seen new places, seen new players, new tactics. I have learned many things during the tournament because I met with new colleagues from other countries. There has been good communication and a good atmosphere between us." A regular referee in the Turkish Süper Lig, Meler explained his journey to the international list. "When I was 18, I started to referee and, nine years later, I was in the top division in Turkey," he said. "When I was 29, I became an international referee, this is my second year. I finished my sports education and started refereeing when I was young. I played amateur football for six years before university in my home town." Meler credits UEFA's Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE) in Nyon, which began in 2010, for helping him to Sunday's final. "This has been a very good season for me," he said. "I have been given top-division games in Turkey after I went to CORE. I learned very important things to become an excellent referee from very experienced people like David Elleray, Jorn West Larsen and Roberto Rosetti. After CORE, in 2017, I became a FIFA referee. Now, in my second year, I was invited to the U17 EURO final tournament. It will be the most important international match in my career." That match on Sunday excites him: "Every final has a story, every game has a story. Because in a final every team has just one goal – the trophy." This season, Meler has also gained experience in a very different arena - as an additional assistant referee in the UEFA Europa League. "It's amazing to referee at the top level, I get a great feeling of pride," he said. (Source: UEFA)

20 May 2018
Italy – Netherlands
Referee: Halil Umut Meler (TUR, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Robert Steinacher (AUT)
Assistant Referee 2: Péter Kóbor (HUN)
Fourth Official: Horațiu Feșnic (ROU)
Referee Observer: Hugh Dallas (SCO)

Clattenburg reveals death threats, vile abuse and alcohol

Former FIFA referee Mark Clattenburg has told Independent.ie that he was on the receiving end of death threats as he revealed that his family were also abused during his time officiating in England’s top flight. Clattenburg’s lowest point came as he was accused of racially abusing Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel in a game against Manchester United in October 2012, in an incident that he admits forced him to consider his future in the game.
Now the official who has quit the Premier League last year to take up a new role in Saudi Arabia had opened up on the vile social media abuse that flowed his way in a career that saw him take charge of the FA Cup final, Champions League final and the decisive game of Euro 2016 between Portugal and France. “I’ve had death threats, my family have been threatened and it is not nice. People say what they are going to do to you, that they know where you live,” Paddy Power ambassador Clattenburg told Independent.ie. “The odds of them carrying out these threats are low, but your children can still read it and that is not nice. When it affects your family, it is a horrible situation and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. The low point for me was clearly the Chelsea - Manchester United game in 2012 and the racism accusation that cause such a storm. After that, I wanted to quit, but I was not in a position to do that. “One day the whole truth will come out on what happened in that game and people will be surprised by that story. The incident on the day and what happened afterwards was not right and it left a lasting mark on me. It made me realise that football is not just a sport any more. There are bigger issues around; that was not a football incident. Sometimes things happen in life that make you stronger and I am probably a better referee after that incident than I was before it, but it was still a difficult situation to live through.” Clattenburg admits he was ready to walk away from refereeing for good after the racism accusations that were belatedly dropped by Mikel and Chelsea, but he suggests he was ‘trapped’ in a job he could not escape from. “At the time, I wanted to quit and the support is not there in that kind of situation, but what can you do?” he asks. “In refereeing, you are stuck in an industry you can’t get out of and that is a difficult place to be in. You cannot step away from referee once you are in it for a very good reason. I have a family, they need to be looked after. I have left my profession as an electrical engineer behind and there is nowhere to go if I walk away from refereeing. This is a unique job in many ways and not always for the right reason. If you are a player or a manager or even a journalist, you can always get a job somewhere else if something goes wrong, but you cannot do that in refereeing. Who is going to employ me in a job outside football given my profile and the like? That is why I had to take the offer to move to Saudi Arabia when it came my way, as it offered security to my family. People sometimes forget that referees are not there for a hobby or to live out the dream of being on the pitch as it is a job at the end of the day. Social media has probably not helped referees. It is not just the 90 minutes on the field any more as it is the backlash that follows if there is a controversial incident or a mistake that might have been made by the officials. That doesn’t just last for a few hours, it can go on for days and weeks and that is not easy. There are some nasty people out there and people who want to say things that they wouldn’t say to your face”. (Source: The Independent)
Clattenburg insists he quit England after getting fed-up of always being in the eye of the storm after bust-ups with players, and managers never apologising when they got it wrong. The ex-FIFA ref, now working in Saudi Arabia, said: “It’s a relief to get away from the Premier League. “The pressures inside your own country are sometimes more difficult than high-profile international games. It can affect your family. All the social media things that are written, it affects people who know you. If you make the same mistakes abroad, nobody seems to comment. I think more of our referees will go overseas. In the Premier League, people are criticising you constantly. That criticism is one of the catalysts for my decision to quit the Premier League. Is it worth doing this job? You make a right decision, you’re told it’s wrong, and you’re driving home hundreds of miles with that in your head. Managers never come out and apologise for it, or come into the dressing room privately and say they’ve made a mistake. The drama of it is unique, but I don’t miss the day-to-day Premier League”. Clattenburg says whenever he was involved in a flash point - once being cleared of a racist bust-up with Jon Obi Mikel - the only escape was to turn to drink. “How do you release the tension around refereeing big games?” said Clattenburg. “Drink lots of beer! I used to call my wife after a game, and she’d know by my voice if I’d had a bad game or not. When I got home, she’d be in the bed and the fridge would be full of beer if I had a nightmare. If I’d had a good game, she’d wait up. It’s horrible after a game if you’ve made a mistake – it would be a horrible drive home. If you had a good game, you would want to listen to the radio stations talking about the match. But, if you’d had a 'mare, you’d turn the Bluetooth on and play some music. The worst was when Chelsea played Manchester United, and I’d been accused of being racist by Jon Obi Mikel. I had to fly out of Heathrow and it was breaking news all over the world, having to deal with that and the aftermath while getting on the flight. I remember boarding and the guy sitting next to me said, ‘You’re the referee aren’t you? F***ing hell, you’ve made some headlines’. You realise then the impact football has. I couldn’t leave the house for the next week. To be accused of something you hadn’t done was difficult to deal with, because you get frustrated. You have to leave the investigations to run their course. They asked us to come back and referee and I wasn’t in the right state of mind for it for a while. I thought about quitting a lot after that, but the problem you’ve got as a professional is you’ve left your other industry for nine years. I was an electrical engineer, and I couldn’t go back to that because the game had changed. What could I do? I had a mortgage to pay, I had a family, I had a house. It becomes different when refereeing becomes your job. You have to think differently. There aren’t many alternatives”. (Source: Irish Mirror)

World Cup referee Al-Mirdasi banned for life for match-fixing attempt in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has banned referee Fahad Al-Mirdasi from football for life for a match-fixing attempt, weeks before he was due to fly to Russia to officiate at the 2018 World Cup, said the country's football federation [SAFF] in a statement.
Al-Mirdasi had confessed to offering to fix Saturday's King's Cup final on behalf of the Al Ittihad club, the SAFF said. It added that it had requested FIFA to hand him a lifetime global ban as well as removing him from the World Cup list. The 32-year-old referee made the approach to Al Ittihad chief Hamad Al-Senaie, who immediately handed over the WhatsApp messages to SAFF officials who in turn alerted the relevant government authorities, SAFF said. Al-Mirdasi was taken into police custody where he confessed to soliciting the corrupt payment, the statement from the SAFF Ethics Committee added. 
Al Ittihad played Al Faisaly in the King's Cup final at Jeddah's King Abdullah Sports City on Saturday, winning in extra-time in a game refereed by Mark Clattenburg, who was appointed Head of Refereeing at the SAFF last year, and stepped in to replace Al-Mirdasi on the eve of the game. Al-Mirdasi has been on the FIFA referees list since 2011 and officiated at last year's Confederations Cup in Russia. "FIFA notes the information that referee Fahad Al-Mirdasi has allegedly been banned from all football-related activities by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF)", the world governing body told BBC Sport. 

Serbian referee arrested after penalty howler

Serbian referee Srdjan Obradovic has been arrested and questioned on abuse of power charges after awarding a wrongful penalty kick in Sunday's crucial top division soccer match, the country's interior ministry (MUP) said on Tuesday. 
"Obradovic is suspected of abusing his authority in the match between Spartak Subotica and Radnicki Nis to favour the home team against their rivals", MUP said. "He will be detained for 48 hours and handed over to the prosecutor in charge". Spartak won the match 2-0 to nose ahead of Radnicki into third place and a Europa League qualifying slot ahead of the last round of matches, courtesy of two penalties with the latter leaving viewers and the visitors perplexed. A Radnicki defender deflected an innocuous low cross from the right with his feet making no contact with any of the home players, but Obradovic awarded the spot-kick and gesticulated that the would-be offender had handled the ball. The howler also prompted Serbian FA chief Slavisa Kokeza to ask the soccer authorities to punish Obradovic accordingly and suspend him. 
Serbian media invariably vilified Obradovic after the incident and showed video clips of a long list of his poor decisions in previous matches, notably a Belgrade derby between Serbia's big two Red Star and Partizan in March 2017. Obradovic allowed play to go on after the ball had clearly gone out of play for Red Star's opener in a 1-1 draw, sparking bitter protests from Partizan's officials and supporters. Red Star won a record 28th Serbian league title earlier this month with games to spare ahead of second-placed Partizan, while Spartak and fourth-placed Radnicki, who are three points behind them, are battling it out for a Europa League berth.

UEFA U-17 Euro 2018 – Semi-finals

17 May 2018

England – Netherlands
Referee: Horațiu Feșnic (ROU, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Robert Steinacher (AUT)
Assistant Referee 2: Vlad Lifciu (MDA)
Fourth Official: Tihomir Pejin (CRO)
Referee Observer: Vlado Svilokos (CRO)

Italy – Belgium
Referee: Vilhjalmur Thorarinsson (ISL)
Assistant Referee 1: Péter Kóbor (HUN)
Assistant Referee 2: Georgi Doynov (BUL)
Fourth Official: Robert Harvey (IRL)
Referee Observer: Marc Batta (FRA)

CFU Club Championship Final 2018: Aguilar (SLV)

13 May 2018

Atletico Pantoja – Arnett Gardens
Referee: Joel Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Zumba (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Corey Rockwell (USA)
Fourth Official: Jair Marrufo (USA)

OFC Champions League Final 2018 (First Leg)

13 May 2018

Wellington  Lautoka
Referee: Abdelkader Zitouni (TAH, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Tevita Makasini (TGA)
Assistant Referee 2: Bernard Mutukera (SOL)
Fourth Official: Mederic Lacour (NCA)

Copa Libertadores – Group Stage (Matchday 7)

15-17 May 2018

Defensor Sporting – Cerro Porteño
Referee: Nestor Pitana (ARG, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Diego Bonfa (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Gabriel Chade (ARG)
Fourth Official: Fernando Espinoza (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Claudio Puga (CHI)

Delfin – Atletico Nacional
Referee: Victor Carrillo (PER)
Assistant Referee 1: Jonny Bossio (PER)
Assistant Referee 2: Coty Carrera (PER)
Fourth Official: Joel Alarcon (PER)
Referee Assessor: Sergio Cristiano (BRA)

Monagas – Gremio
Referee: Fernando Rapallini (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Gustavo Rossi (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Cristian Navarro (ARG)
Fourth Official: German Delfino (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Jose Buitrago (COL)

Colo Colo – Bolívar
Referee: Sandro Ricci (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Emerson De Carvalho (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Marcelo Van Gasse (BRA)
Fourth Official: Luiz Oliveira (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Dario Ubriaco (URU)

Boca Juniors – Alianza Lima
Referee: Mario Diaz de Vivar (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Rodney Aquino (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Roberto Cañete (PAR)
Fourth Official: Jose Mendez (PAR)
Referee Assessor: Juan Lugones (BOL)

Palmeiras – Junior
Referee: Enrique Caceres (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Cardozo (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Zorrilla (PAR)
Fourth Official: Arnaldo Samaniego (PAR)
Referee Assessor: Francisco Mondria (CHI)

Flamengo – Emelec
Referee: Diego Haro (PER)
Assistant Referee 1: Raul Lopez (PER)
Assistant Referee 2: Victor Raez (PER)
Fourth Official: Miguel Santivañez (PER)
Referee Assessor: Carlos Torres (PAR)

Libertad – Atletico Tucumán
Referee: Wilton Sampaio (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Kleber Gil (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Guilherme Camilo (BRA)
Fourth Official: Rodolpho Toski (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Imer Machado (COL)

Peñarol – The Strongest
Referee: Andres Rojas (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Humberto Clavijo (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Wilmar Navarro (COL)
Fourth Official: Nicolas Gallo (COL)
Referee Assessor: Nelson Moncao (BRA)

Millonarios – Independiente
Referee: Roberto Tobar (CHI)
Assistant Referee 1: Claudio Rios (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Raul Orellana (CHI)
Fourth Official: Cesar Deischler (CHI)
Referee Assessor: Alberto Tejada (PER)

Deportivo Lara – Corinthians
Referee: Andres Cunha (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Mauricio Espinosa (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Nicolas Taran (URU)
Fourth Official: Esteban Ostojich (URU)
Referee Assessor: Carlos Herrera (ECU)

Saudi Arabia World Cup referee placed under investigation

Fahad Al-Mirdasi's involvement at the World Cup has been thrown into major doubt after he was dramatically stood down from Saturday's King's Cup final and placed under investigation. Saudi's top referee was due to officiate the match at King Abdullah Sports City between Al-Ittihad and Al-Faisaly, but the Saudi Football Federation (SAFF) announced on Friday night that the 32-year-old would no longer be taking charge of the game. "The Saudi Arabian Football Federation, with the blessing of the Saudi Olympic Committee, has decided to remove referee Fahad Al-Mirdasi from refereeing the King's Cup final and to refer him to the General Investigations Bureau," read the SAFF's official Twitter account. "Mark Clattenburg has been appointed to referee the final instead". Al-Mirdasi was also removed from the AFC Champions League match Jeonbuk Motors - Buriram United, where he will be replaced by Nawaf Shukralla.
Al-Mirdasi (photo) is one of three Saudi match officials selected for next summer’s tournament by FIFA, but his participation must now be in some jeopardy. FIFA, who have named 36 referees for the tournament in Russia, are likely to want clarification surrounding the exact reasons for the SAFF's decision to suspend and then place one of Asia's top referees under investigation. Al-Mirdasi was set to become the fourth Saudi referee to officiate at the World Cup, following in the footsteps of Falaj Al-Shannar, Abdulrahman Al-Zeid and Khalil Jalal. Having previously taken charge of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal as well as matches in the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2017 FIFA Confederation Cup, Al-Mirdasi is one of Asia’s most experienced referees. SAFF President Adel Ezzat said in March that the selection of Al-Mirdasi - along with assistant referees Abdullah Al-Shalawi and Mohammed Al-Abkari - was a proud moment for the Kingdom. “The three officials won FIFA’s trust after officiating at the highest levels of continental and international football,” said Ezzat in a statement published on the SAFF Twitter account. “It is a reward for them to be at the greatest of all football competitions. They deserve congratulations as they have earned their places among the elite of the refereeing world. To have three match officials at the World Cup is a great motivation for us at the SAFF to enhance our work in developing Saudi referees. I wish them success in Russia and we will be looking forward for them to do us proud”. 

Source: Arab News

Frappart looking forward to officiating on home soil

Top French referee Stephanie Frappart is one of the 15 female match officials, who will officiate games at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 in August. She is looking forward to refereeing in her home country and to showing the world how excited France is to celebrate women’s football at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup this year, and of course next year, at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.
- FIFA.com: Congratulations on your selection for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018. What does it mean for you as a French woman to officiate at FIFA World Cup matches in your home country?
- Stephanie Frappart: I am very proud, of course. I am really looking forward to this competition. It is a big honour to represent France in France. It is a highlight for me. It is great recognition and a token of appreciation for all of the work I have done so far, for the experience I gained over the past years. I am very pleased and I want to thank everyone, who has made this possible.
- France is organising two important women’s competitions. Next year, the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be played in France. The U-20 competition in August is a kind of sample for what’s coming up next year, when FIFA’s flagship tournament in women’s football will be played. How are the preparations going so far? 
- The French Football Federation has prepared this tournament very well. It will be a big test for everyone before the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. Everyone is focused and ready. The whole region of Brittany is excited to welcome all of the teams and fans. The FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup will be a great gauge for next year’s competition.
- Considering that the level of the U-20 women is very good, are there opportunities for the match officials to make improvements in their own World Cup preparations?
- Absolutely. It is a great opportunity for us and it is a great opportunity for the players. We both have an important competition, after which all of us can be recommended for the World Cup, if we have good performances. So, there is a lot at stake for all of us.
- You are known for leaving nothing to chance and planning everything down to the last detail. What are your preparations like over the next few days, weeks and months?
- It is actually an ongoing process. The World Cup preparations have not just started. We actually started planning and preparing for France 2019 immediately after the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada. It is more a next, important step towards the next big highlight. It will be an intense, but exciting time. We are challenged and encouraged. It is an important stopover in our World Cup preparations. We still have a lot of work to do and we must keep up the pace. The exchanges with our instructors will be very valuable and also officiating games at a high level is, of course, very important for us.
- What exactly can we look forward to in your country this year and next year? 
- This summer, it’s the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, and next year, it’s the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the best women’s football tournament anywhere! I am sure that both competitions will be a big success for the development of women’s football. This FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 is coming at just the right time for the women’s game in France. Our FA’s development programme is paying off. More and more people are watching women’s football matches on TV, and the French national women’s team play in front of packed stadia. There’s a genuine passion for the game, and it’s growing all the time.

Source: FIFA

FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2018

The FIFA Referees Committee has appointed 15 female referees and 30 female assistant referees to officiate at the upcoming FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018. The selection criteria for the match officials from 21 different countries was based on their experience in their respective association and confederation competitions, as well as their levels of fitness and ability to read the game. Those selected for the tournament in Brittany this summer will also be candidates to officiate at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. The four official host cities for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 are located across Brittany: Concarneau (Stade Guy Piriou), Dinan/Léhon (Stade du Clos Gastel in Léhon), Saint-Malo (Stade de Marville) and Vannes (Stade de la Rabine). Vannes will host the opening match of the competition on 5 August, as well as the final on 24 August. (Source: FIFA)

Referee: Kate Jacewicz (AUS, 1985)
Assistant Referee 1: Renae Coghill (AUS, 1979)
Assistant Referee 2: Uvena Fernandes (IND, 1981)

Referee: Qin Liang (CHN, 1979)
Assistant Referee 1: Fang Yan (CHN, 1979)
Assistant Referee 2: Kim Kyoung Min (KOR, 1980)

Referee: Ri Hyang Ok (PRK, 1977)
Assistant Referee 1: Hong Kum Nyo (PRK, 1973)
Assistant Referee 2: Cui Yongmei (CHN, 1979)

Referee: Lidya Tafesse Abebe (ETH, 1980)
Assistant Referee 1: Queency Victoire (MRI, 1987)
Assistant Referee 2: Mary Njoroge (KEN, 1985)

Referee: Gladys Lengwe (ZAM, 1978)
Assistant Referee 1: Bernadettar Kwimbira (MWI, 1981)
Assistant Referee 2: Lidwine Rakotozafinoro (MAD, 1978)

Referee: Melissa Borjas (HON, 1986)
Assistant Referee 1: Shirley Perello (HON, 1986)
Assistant Referee 2: Yudilia Briones (MEX, 1986)

Referee: Carol Anne Chenard (CAN, 1977)
Assistant Referee 1: Kathryn Nesbitt (USA, 1988)
Assistant Referee 2: Chantal Boudreau (CAN, 1989)

Referee: Edina Alves (BRA, 1980)
Assistant Referee 1: Neuza Back (BRA, 1984)
Assistant Referee 2: Tatiane Sacilotti (BRA, 1986)

Referee: Claudia Umpierrez (URU, 1983, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Luciana Mascarana (URU, 1981)
Assistant Referee 2: Monica Amboya (ECU, 1982)

Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley (NZL, 1982)
Assistant Referee 1: Lata Kaumatule (TGA, 1985)
Assistant Referee 2: Maria Salamasina (SAM, 1989)

Referee: Jana Adamkova (CZE, 1978)
Assistant Referee 1: Sian Massey (ENG, 1985)
Assistant Referee 2: Sanja Rodjak-Karšić (CRO, 1983)

Referee: Stephanie Frappart (FRA, 1983)
Assistant Referee 1: Manuela Nicolosi (FRA, 1980)
Assistant Referee 2: Michelle O’Neill (IRL, 1978)

Referee: Kateryna Monzul (UKR, 1981)
Assistant Referee 1: Maryna Striletska (UKR, 1983)
Assistant Referee 2: Petruta Iugulescu (ROU, 1979)

Referee: Esther Staubli (SUI, 1979)
Assistant Referee 1: Belinda Pierre (SUI, 1987)
Assistant Referee 2: Susanne Kung (SUI, 1988)

Referee: Bibiana Steinhaus (GER, 1979)
Assistant Referee 1: Katrin Rafalski (GER, 1982)
Assistant Referee 2: Chrysoula Kourompylia (GRE, 1977)

VAR failed during A-League Final

A “technical failure” with the video assistant referee (VAR) stopped the controversial technology from disallowing the goal that decided Saturday night’s A-League grand final. A review by Football Federation Australia has found the VAR on duty, Craig Zetter, did not have access to the camera angles required to catch a blatant offside in the process of Kosta Barbarouses’s 9-minute goal that gave Melbourne Victory their 1-0 win over Newcastle to claim the championship.
Social media went into meltdown when replays showed James Donachie had drifted the wrong side of the last Jets player, with Johnny Warren medallist Adrian Mierzejewski and former Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe leading the outrage. The assistant referee never raised his flag but it is understood some members of the Victory coaching staff hesitated before celebrating because they believed Donachie was offside on their first viewing. A-League chief Greg O’Rourke issued a statement on Sunday morning to reveal Hawkeye had a “malfunction of software” that meant the VAR system was partially lost 30 seconds before Victory’s goal. It was not restored until “some minutes” after the goal at which point O’Rourke said it was too late to overturn the goal. “We are extremely disappointed at this failure of the VAR technology and we understand the disappointment and frustration of the Newcastle Jets, their fans and indeed all football fans,” O’Rourke said. “VAR was introduced here and in other parts of the world as a technology-based solution to correct the human errors that inevitably are made from time to time when officials are making judgments in split seconds. On this occasion the technology itself failed and the broadcast angles required were unavailable. We are working with Hawkeye to thoroughly understand why it did and what can be done to prevent this happening again. Whilst we understand that this happened only once this season it was at a most critical time. All parties desire the technology to be failure proof and that is what we will be striving for.” After the match Jets coach Ernie Merrick made it clear he didn’t agree with the decision that stood. “It looked to me like there were three players offside,” he said. “I don’t want to be a sore loser but if that goal was offside I just wonder what the point of the VAR is.” Victory coach Kevin Muscat said: “I reckon there’s been a few technical glitches throughout the season. “Three weeks ago, when we played Adelaide, their goal was offside and the VAR didn’t have the correct footage. When we sent them our footage they acknowledged that it was offside. I don’t want to rub people’s noses in it. What I am saying is that we’ve got to allow more resources to give these guys all the correct software and technology that they need.” The incident comes as a warning of the system’s fallibility before next month’s World Cup in Russia, where it be used at football’s showpiece tournament for the first time.

Source: The Guardian

Copa Sudamericana – Round 1 (Second Leg, II)

8-10 May 2018

Danubio – Deportivo Cali
Referee: Mauro Vigliano (ARG, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Lucas Germanotta (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Julio Fernandez (ARG)
Fourth Official: Fernando Echenique (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Ana Oliveira (BRA)

Guabira – LDU Quito
Referee: Leodan Gonzalez (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Miguel Nievas (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Carlos Barreiro (URU)
Fourth Official: Jonathan Fuentes (URU)
Referee Assessor: Ricardo Casas (ARG)

Atletico Mineiro – San Lorenzo
Referee: Julio Bascuñan (CHI)
Assistant Referee 1: Carlos Astroza (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Christian Schiemann (CHI)
Fourth Official: Eduardo Gamboa (CHI)
Referee Assessor: Jose Buitrago (COL)

Deportes Temuco – Estudiantes Merida
Referee: Gustavo Murillo (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Diaz (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Alexander Leon (COL)
Fourth Official: Carlos Betancur (COL)
Referee Assessor: Roberto Perassi (BRA)

Sao Paulo – Rosario Central
Referee: Eber Aquino (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Milciades Saldivar (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Carlos Caceres (PAR)
Fourth Official: Julio Quintana (PAR)
Referee Assessor: Jorge Larrionda (URU)

Botafogo – Audax Italiano 

Referee: Michael Espinoza (PER)
Assistant Referee 1: Michael Orue (PER)
Assistant Referee 2: Stephen Atoche (PER)
Fourth Official: Luis Garay (PER)

Referee Assessor: Martin Vazquez (URU)

Boston River – Jaguares
Referee: Raul Orosco (BOL)
Assistant Referee 1: Jose Antelo (BOL)
Assistant Referee 2: Ariel Guizada (BOL)
Fourth Official: Juan Nelio Garcia (BOL)
Referee Assessor: Joel Ruiz (PAR)

Newell's Old Boys – Atletico Paranaense
Referee: Carlos Orbe (ECU)
Assistant Referee 1: Ricardo Baren (ECU)
Assistant Referee 2: Edwin Bravo (ECU)
Fourth Official: Omar Ponce (ECU)
Referee Assessor: Ana Perez (PER)

Nacional Potosi – Fluminense
Referee: Esteban Ostojich (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Nicolas Taran (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Gabriel Popovits (URU)
Fourth Official: Gustavo Tejera (URU)
Referee Assessor: Cesar Escano (PER)

Independiente Medellin – Sol de America
Referee: Raphael Claus (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Rodrigo Correa (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Alessandro Rocha (BRA)
Fourth Official: Wagner Reway (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Hugo Munoz (CHI)

Bahia – Blooming
Referee: Juan Soto (VEN)
Assistant Referee 1: Carlos Lopez (VEN)
Assistant Referee 2: Elbis Gomez (VEN)
Fourth Official: Jesus Valenzuela (VEN)
Referee Assessor: Sabrina Lois (ARG)

UEFA Champions League Final 2018: Mazic (SRB)

Pride and honour are the two main emotions that Milorad Mažić felt on learning of his assignment to referee the UEFA Champions League final. "I think if you ask any European referee what their dream is when they start out on their international career, they would say it's to referee the Champions League final," says the 45-year-old from Serbia as he looks forward to taking charge of the encounter between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Kyiv. "It's the biggest European club match, a big crowd, fantastic atmosphere, two big clubs – it's very, very special, and I'm proud to be a part of the occasion together with my team," he reflects. Mažić will be accompanied in Kyiv by a Serbian refereeing team: assistant referees Milovan Ristić and Dalibor Djurdjević, and additional assistant referees Nenad Djokić and Danilo Grujić. Clément Turpin (France) is the fourth official, with Serbian reserve assistant referee Nemanja Petrović completing the refereeing line-up. "We work hard together as a team," says Mažić, who comes from Vrbas, a town of 25,000 people situated some 130km north of Belgrade. "We're constantly discussing our work, diligently preparing for every match and looking to improve – because the quality of a refereeing performance in a game depends upon the entire team being at its best." Mažić, married and the father of two sons, joined the international list in 2009 and has already refereed two premium games on the football calendar – last year's FIFA Confederations Cup final between Chile and Germany, and the 2016 UEFA Super Cup match pitting Real Madrid against Sevilla. A company director in the meat industry, Mažić came into refereeing in his early 20s. "I suffered a serious injury playing football. The game was my life, and I wanted to stay in it, so people suggested that I become a referee. After my first game, I said to myself: 'This is for me!'" He believes referees should develop their own style and personality, adding: "I watched all the great referees and I have taken something from all of them, but I don't think you should try and be a 'copy' of someone else," he reflects. Mažić and his team will prepare for the final as if it were a normal match. "We will focus on building up our concentration to be ready for the game – and it's important to make a good start to a match, it gives you confidence for the rest of the game. "We are preparing as well by studying the teams' tactics and player characteristics – this is something that UEFA considers to be extremely important, and it's invaluable for referees.” Top-level football's tactical and technical development over the years has meant that referees have had to adapt to the evolution. "The game is very different to what it was a couple of decades ago," Mažić says. "It's quicker, the players are fitter. So the challenge has been for referees and refereeing to keep up with the changes – this also applies to the laws of the game. Refereeing a match is also about people management on the pitch – you may have everything else, the technical knowledge and so on, but if you don't have people skills, you're missing something." And what of the future? Mažić is determined to maintain the high standards he has set for himself. "You have to keep your passion, and set yourself targets and objectives," he insists. "Because if you don't, you might as well do something else". (Source: UEFA)

26 May 2018
Real Madrid – Liverpool FC
Referee: Milorad Mažić (SRB)
Assistant Referee 1: Milovan Ristić (SRB)
Assistant Referee 2: Dalibor Djurdjević (SRB)
Additional AR 1: Nenad Djokić (SRB)
Additional AR 2: Danilo Grujić (SRB)
Fourth Official: Clément Turpin (FRA)
Reserve AR: Nemanja Petrović (SRB)

Referee Observer: Vladimir Sajn (SVN)

Previous UEFA Champions League final referees
2010: Bayern München - Inter Milan 0-2 Howard Webb (ENG)
2011: Barcelona - Manchester United 3-1 Viktor Kassai (HUN)
2012: Bayern München - Chelsea 3-4 Pedro Proença (POR)
2013: Borussia Dortmund - Bayern München 1-2 Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)
2014: Real Madrid - Atlético 4-1 Björn Kuipers (NED)
2015: Juventus - Barcelona 1-3 Cüneyt Çakir (TUR)
2016: Real Madrid - Atlético 5-3 Mark Clattenburg (ENG)
2017: Juventus - Real Madrid 1-4 Felix Brych (GER)

UEFA Europa League Final 2018: Kuipers (NED)

Björn Kuipers has savoured the taste of big finals numerous times – but the Dutch referee, who will take charge of the UEFA Europa League final between Marseille and Atlético de Madrid in Lyon, says every new final has its own unique flavour. The 45-year-old supermarket owner from Oldenzaal in the eastern Netherlands is ready for the occasion in France, and can count on the experience gathered in refereeing two previous UEFA club finals – the 2014 UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atlético, and the previous year’s UEFA Europa League showpiece featuring Chelsea and Benfica. “It was a big surprise, but a fantastic one,” says the married father-of-two of his latest assignment. ”I’m really happy. It’s the eighth final in my career, and each one is very special.” The appointment for the game in Lyon is further recognition of Kuipers’ qualities as a referee, attributes that have led him along a distinguished career path that began when he was a teenager. Kuipers leads a Dutch refereeing team: assistants Sander van Roekel and Erwin Zeinstra, additional assistant referees Danny Makkelie and Pol van Boekel, and reserve assistant referee Mario Diks. Poland’s Szymon Marciniak completes the team as fourth official. He is unequivocal that refereeing teamwork has been a huge factor in bringing this latest high-level honour. “It’s not just recognition of me,” he stresses. “It’s also recognition for my team – they are fantastic, and I would be nothing without them.” Kuipers thanks his father Jan for setting him out on his refereeing path at the age of 16. “He was an amateur referee, and I used to go to matches with him,” he reflects. “He suggested that I might like to try refereeing, that I might enjoy it. I did enjoy it - very much so. When I started out, I wasn’t ever thinking of getting to the top levels, but I was lucky, because I have been coached and guided by very good people along the way.” Kuipers gives particular credit to fellow Dutchman and long-standing UEFA Referees Committee member Jaap Uilenberg for being a vital source of advice and encouragement. Passion, pleasure and home support are three elements that, in Kuipers’ opinion, help a referee to enjoy success at whichever level he or she officiates. “If you have that passion and pleasure, you can achieve a lot,” he explains. “The support of those who are close to you is equally essential – in my case, my wife Marlies and my son and daughter have been particularly important. They know how much refereeing means to me, and they are always there for me.” Over the years, Kuipers, selected for the team of match officials at this summer’s World Cup in Russia, has seen considerable changes not only in top-level football, but also in refereeing. “The players are stronger and fitter,” he says. “The game is quicker, and so referees have had to adapt as well. Referees now are as much athletes as the players. Other aspects have developed, for example, the tactical preparation that we do now: it’s really important that you know how teams play, so you know what to expect when you’re refereeing them.” A final in front of a packed house presents its own special challenges for the refereeing team. Mental strength is a priority requirement. “It’s one of the most important facets for a referee,” Kuipers says. “You have so many people looking at you and reading about you at a match, so you have to be strong and confident in everything you do. We will prepare for the final as we always do, we’ll go out on to the pitch beforehand to taste the atmosphere, and then go back to the dressing-room to get ourselves absolutely focused on doing the best job that we can”. (Source: UEFA)

16 May 2018
Olympique de Marseille – Atlético de Madrid
Referee: Björn Kuipers (NED)
Assistant Referee 1: Sander van Roekel (NED)
Assistant Referee 2: Erwin Zeinstra (NED)
Additional AR 1: Danny Makkelie (NED)
Additional AR 2: Pol van Boekel (NED)
Fourth Official: Szymon Marciniak (POL)
Reserve AR: Mario Diks (NED)

Referee Observer: Nikolai Levnikov (RUS)

Previous UEFA Europa League final referees
2010 Atlético - Fulham 2-1 Nicola Rizzoli (ITA)
2011 Porto - Braga 1-0 Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP)
2012 Atlético - Athletic 3-0 Wolfgang Stark (GER)
2013 Benfica - Chelsea 1-2 Björn Kuipers (NED)
2014 Sevilla - Benfica 4-2 Felix Brych (GER)
2015 Dnipro - Sevilla 2-3 Martin Atkinson (ENG)
2016 Liverpool - Sevilla 1-3 Jonas Eriksson (SWE)
2017 Ajax - Manchester United 0-2 Damir Skomina (SVN)

UEFA Women’s Champions League Final 2018: Adamkova (CZE)

"A dream come true" – Jana Adámková's reaction to her appointment as referee of the UEFA Women's Champions League final. The 40-year-old from Olomouc in the Czech Republic is relishing her assignment for the big occasion when VfL Wolfsburg take on Olympique Lyonnais at the Valeriy Lobanovskyi Stadium in Kyiv. "It's fantastic – it's the biggest match that I have refereed, and it's something that all referees work hard to achieve," says Adámková, on the international list since 2007 and a member of the referees' team at last summer's UEFA Women's Euro in the Netherlands. Adámková will be joined at the final by assistant referees Sian Massey (England) and Sanja Rodjak-Karšić (Croatia). Kateryna Monzul (Ukraine) is fourth official, and another Ukrainian, Maryna Striletska, is the reserve official. She is ideally placed to know what the players will be feeling on Thursday, having played in midfield for the Czech national team before becoming a referee in 2002. "It really does help if you have played, because you also understand the game from a player's point of view,” she stresses. "I became a referee after hearing that they were looking for more female referees in the Czech Republic, and were looking at the possibility of players becoming referees. I gave it a try and found that I liked it." Adámková, whose free time is taken up by sporting activities such as mountain biking, tennis and badminton – "my life is all about sport" – follows in the footsteps of another Czech female referee who enjoyed an outstanding career. Dagmar Damková, now a UEFA refereeing officer and UEFA Referees Committee member, took charge of the UEFA Women's Euro 2009 final, the 2011 UEFA Women's Champions League final and the 2008 Olympic Games final. "Dagmar has been a great influence and model," she says. "It's fantastic to have been working closely with someone who was one of the best female referees in the world, and she gave me great advice along the way." The huge progress of women's football at the highest levels has also had an important impact on the match officials. "The game is quicker, and the players have developed tactically, mentally and physically," Adámková reflects. "This obviously means that the referees have had to adapt as well. We are fitter, and preparations have also developed, because we now have the opportunity to study teams and players and their tactics before a match." Adámková rates people management as one of the key roles of a referee. "You have to have the personality to handle players," she emphasises. "The players have to be able to accept you, and when they do, it makes the ‘partnership’ on the field much easier." Following the final, Adámková will be looking forward to duty at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in France in August. Before then, her total focus is on Thursday's big night in Kyiv – and she is determined to savour the experience. "As well as being fully concentrated, I will probably also feel a little emotional when we're all lining up with the teams before the match," she admits. "It will be a 'once in a lifetime' moment that I want to enjoy". (Source: UEFA)

24 May 2018
VfL Wolfsburg – Olympique Lyonnais
Referee: Jana Adámková (CZE)
Assistant Referee 1: Sian Massey (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Sanja Rodjak-Karšić (CRO)
Fourth Official: Kateryna Monzul (UKR)
Reserve AR: Maryna Striletska (UKR)

Referee Observer: Maria Villa Gutierrez (ESP)

Previous UEFA Women’s Champions League final referees
2010 Potsdam – Lyon 7-6 Kirsi Heikkinen (FIN)
2011 Lyon – Potsdam 2-0 Dagmar Damkova (CZE)
2012 Frankfurt – Lyon 0-2 Jenny Palmqvist (SWE)
2013 Lyon – Wolfsburg 1-0 Teodora Albon (ROU)
2014 Tyreso – Wolfsburg 3-4 Kateryna Monzul (UKR)
2015 Frankfurt – Paris SG 2-1 Esther Staubli (SUI)
2016 Lyon – Wolfsburg 4-3 Katalin Kulcsar (HUN)
2017 Lyon – Paris SG 7-6 Bibiana Steinhaus (GER)

UEFA Women's U-17 Euro 2018

Lithuania, 9-21 May 2018

1. Hristiana Guteva (BUL, 1990, photo)
2. Lucie Sulcova (CZE, 1990)
3. Frida Klarlund Nielsen (DEN, 1989)
4. Irena Velevackoska (MKD, 1988)
5. Desiree Grundbacher (SUI, 1983)
6. Kateryna Usova (UKR, 1991)

Assistant Referees
1. Sara Telek (AUT, 1988)
2. Almira Spahic (BIH, 1987)
3. Maja Petravic (CRO, 1987)
4. Polyxeni Irodotou (CYP, 1982)
5. Elodie Coppola (FRA, 1983)
6. Yelena Alistratova (KAZ, 1985)
7. Diana Vanaga (LVA, 1988)
8. Sandra Osterberg (SWE, 1987)

Fourth Officials
1. Rasa Imanalijeva (LTU, 1991)
2. Jurgita Macikunyte (LTU, 1984)

Chapron honoured as French Referee of the Year despite being suspended for attempting to kick a player

The referee suspended after trying to trip a player during a Ligue 1 game has been named the French top flight's Referee of the Year.
Tony Chapron was given a three-month ban after being found guilty of attempting to kick Diego Carlos during a 1-0 league defeat to Paris St. Germain on 14 January 2018. After the match he explained: “During the match Nantes-PSG, I was knocked over by Diego Carlos, a player with Nantes. At the moment of the impact, I felt a sharp pain where I had recently suffered an injury. My unfortunate reaction was to stick my leg out towards the player. This clumsy gesture was inappropriate, so I want to apologise following this action”. The punishment was extended to six months by the French Football Federation's appeals commission, but Chapron's fellow referees still elected him as the top official in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. Chapron, 46, is planning to retire at the end of the season and learned of the honour late last month. According to L'Equipe, the national directorate for refereeing (DTA) attempted to have the vote annulled. Chapron will receive the award at the UNFP Trophy ceremony, in which Ligue 1's Player of the Year will also be honoured, on 13 May 2018.

Source: ESPN

UEFA Europa League – Semi-finals (Second Leg)

3 May 2018

Atletico de Madrid – Arsenal
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Elenito Di Liberatore (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Mauro Tonolini (ITA)
Additional AR 1: Paolo Valeri (ITA)
Additional AR 2: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
Fourth Official: Alessandro Costanzo (ITA)
Referee Observer: Jaap Uilenberg (NED)

FC Salzburg – Olympique de Marseille
Referee: Sergei Karasev (RUS)
Assistant Referee 1: Anton Averianov (RUS)
Assistant Referee 2: Tikhon Kalugin (RUS)
Additional AR 1: Sergey Lapochkin (RUS)
Additional AR 2: Sergei Ivanov (RUS)
Fourth Official: Igor Demeshko (RUS)
Referee Observer: Eugen Strigel (GER)

Cakir offered astronomical contract in China

The Chinese have offered astronomical fees to Cuneyt Cakir, one of the world's top referees. If Cakir, who is said to be looking positively at the deal, agrees to the offer, he will only blow the whistle in China. In the last few years, China, the top-spending country when it comes to football, has become involved in the transfer of not only players and coaches, but now also referees. The Chinese, who have made a decision to improve the quality of football in every aspect, have made transfer offers to a few referees after eliminating some names from the list of those that will be officiating in the 2018 World Cup. It has come to light that the Chinese, who have been in discussions with Turkish FIFA referee Cuneyt Cakir, have made him an astronomical offer.
Cuneyt Cakir, now 42 and therefore within the last years of his refereeing career, was reported to be looking kindly upon the deal and will likely welcome this surprise offer from China. If he agrees to a deal with the Chinese Football Federation, Cakir will only referee matches in the Super League in China next season and will not officiate in Turkey. 
The first step in the international transfers of referees happened in February of last year, when world-famous English referee Mark Clattenburg signed with Saudi Arabia. 

Source: Hurriyet Translation: Ahenk Ozakpinar

Copa Libertadores – Group Stage (Matchday 6)

1-3 May 2018

Real Garcilaso – Estudiantes
Referee: Julio Bascuñan (CHI, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Carlos Astroza (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Christian Schiemann (CHI)
Fourth Official: Cesar Deischler (CHI)
Referee Assessor: Jose Buitrago (COL)

Gremio – Cerro Porteño
Referee: Patricio Loustau (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Ezequiel Brailovsky (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Maximiliano del Yesso (ARG)
Fourth Official: Jorge Baliño (ARG)
Referee Assessor: Alberto Tejada (PER)

Nacional – Santos
Referee: Wilmar Roldan (COL)
Assistant Referee 1: Alexander Guzman (COL)
Assistant Referee 2: Cristian de la Cruz (COL)
Fourth Official: Gustavo Murillo (COL)
Referee Assessor: Carlos Herrera (ECU)

Atletico Tucumán – Peñarol
Referee: Sandro Ricci (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Emerson de Carvalho (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Marcelo Van Gasse (BRA)
Fourth Official: Rodolpho Toski (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Cesar Escano (PER)

Junior – Boca Juniors
Referee: Roddy Zambrano (ECU)
Assistant Referee 1: Christian Lescano (ECU)
Assistant Referee 2: Luis Vera (ECU)
Fourth Official: Luis Quiroz (ECU)
Referee Assessor: Ubaldo Aquino (PAR)

Delfin – Colo Colo
Referee: Andres Cunha (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Mauricio Espinosa (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Nicolas Taran (URU)
Fourth Official: Jonathan Fuentes (URU)
Referee Assessor: Saul Laverni (ARG)

Corinthians – Independiente
Referee: Victor Carrillo (PER)
Assistant Referee 1: Jonny Bossio (PER)
Assistant Referee 2: Victor Raez (PER)
Fourth Official: Miguel Santivañez (PER)
Referee Assessor: Carlos Torres (PAR)

Vasco da Gama – Cruzeiro
Referee: Anderson Daronco (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Danilo Manis (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Bruno Pires (BRA)
Fourth Official: Dewson Freitas (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Alicio Pena (BRA)

Racing – Universidad de Chile
Referee: Enrique Caceres (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Cardozo (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Zorrilla (PAR)
Fourth Official: Arnaldo Samaniego (PAR)
Referee Assessor: Juan Lugones (BOL)

Alianza Lima – Palmeiras
Referee: Gery Vargas (BOL)
Assistant Referee 1: Jose Antelo (BOL)
Assistant Referee 2: Edward Saavedra (BOL)
Fourth Official: Luis Yrusta (BOL)
Referee Assessor: Dario Ubriaco (URU)

The Strongest – Libertad
Referee: Ricardo Marques (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Bruno Boschilia (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Fabricio Vilarinho (BRA)
Fourth Official: Wagner Reway (BRA)
Referee Assessor: Claudio Puga (CHI)

Santa Fe – River Plate
Referee: Roberto Tobar (CHI)
Assistant Referee 1: Claudio Rios (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Jose Retamal (CHI)
Fourth Official: Piero Maza (CHI)
Referee Assessor: Juan Cardelino (URU)

Venezuelan referee Argote involved in the case "Hands of paper"

At least 1133 bank accounts of companies and individuals have been blocked by the Venezuelan Government for being linked to "acts of corruption". The Venezuelan FIFA referee José Argote (photo) appeared on a list published by the Superintendent of the Banking Sector Institutions for allegedly being involved in paper money transactions. According to the newspaper La Nación, the bank accounts of the referee were blocked by the Government after determining that it had strange movements of money. For the moment, the sports judge has not ruled on the matter. 
"José Argote, 14207030" appears on the list of people linked to the "Hands of paper". According to the Minister of Justice and Peace, Néstor Reverol, the people and companies blocked have been implicated in the "smuggling and theft of the Venezuelan currency". A few days ago, Attorney General Tareck Saab, reported that "three houses of illegal remittances that operated with websites registered abroad were dismantled", as part of the operation "Hands of paper" and ordered the blocking of other 247 bank accounts. 
José Argote represented Venezuela at the Copa America 2015, where he refereed three games and served as the fourth official in the final. 

Source: Panorama

UEFA Champions League – Semi-finals (Second Leg)

1 May 2018
Real Madrid – Bayern München
Referee: Cüneyt Çakir (TUR, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Bahattin Duran (TUR)
Assistant Referee 2: Tarik Ongun (TUR)
Additional AR 1: Hüseyin Göçek (TUR)
Additional AR 2: Barış Şimşek (TUR)
Fourth Official: Mustafa Eyisoy (TUR)
Referee Observer: Francesco Bianchi (SUI)

2 May 2018
AS Roma – FC Liverpool
Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN)
Assistant Referee 1: Jure Praprotnik (SVN)
Assistant Referee 2: Robert Vukan (SVN)
Additional AR 1: Matej Jug (SVN)
Additional AR 2: Slavko Vinčič (SVN)
Fourth Official: Tomaž Klančnik (SVN)
Referee Observer: Alain Hamer (LUX)