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Question Number: 35352

Other 2/12/2024

RE: Adult

Douglas Wix of Liverpool, England asks...

In the African Nations final why didn't the var team make the referee aware of a possible red card when KESSIE clearly elbowed the Nigerian player. It was hardly mentioned on TV nor mentioned on bbc Web pages today the day after the game. Many thanks.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Doug ,
well done Ivory Coast!
It may well be a talking point for us armchair referees to state, that in MY game, that kind of stuff does not make the grade, it is a lot different under intense scrutiny and pressure. The thing is we do not know if the VAR brought it up to the referee or the referee in fact was aware! and simply felt that it was a tolerated action given the earlier incident when Evan Ndicka 21 on the Nigerian # 9 was a bit of theatrics as well. The fact the highlights and review videos are so bloody restricted I can not even have a chance to review the incident, just spitball speculation! It found one but it does not even show the incident? If this goes out before we find a good look at the incident and you find one by all means send in a link. We are all still looking at present!

I will say the match reports I read shows this
First Half 45+4 min: Franck Kessie could be in real trouble here, as he pummels Zaidu Sanusi with his elbow as the Nigerian was racing past the backpedaling Ivorian midfielder. Sanusi is in a heap on the pitch, and replay suggested that contact had real malice and appeared intentional. Somehow, they play on. The hosts get away with one, as they very well could have been a man down if VAR had taken action. Incredibly, Kessie gets away without even a booking. Extremely lucky.

If the VAR did NOT say anything and the referee clearly missed it? If the MISCONDUCT was that egregious, a hefty fine or suspension might still be plausible as VC on or off the FOP if not sanctioned the league ,competition FIFA , might want to make a point! However I find that a real emphasise in recent WC is on not tossing players if there is anyway to avoid it might be inherent in the minds of those evaluating the game? I have been highly critical in the past of ridiculous send offs like when David Beckham received a straight red for the leg tap at Diego Simeone in the 1998 WC who screamed like a baby and rolled about as if he was struck by lightening. It was a horrible decision and completely changed the texture of the game!

This was indeed an intense physical match, and I am sure Nigeria felt the homeside got its share of favourable although Nigeria picked a bad day to not bring their A game. Not having lost in the lead up matches perhaps too complacent?? Full marks to the IC team for taking the game to them. I felt the referee crew did a good job under tough circumstances Noted a bit of physicality in the CR pushing to separate players much like the great Pierluigi Collina.
I have seen some very disturbing actions not get treated as we might treat them at grassroots in the scheme of, let the players decide!

Previously with no VAR, these incidents were just commented on as a well, it went unseen, that is just the breaks .

Nothing or almost nothing gets unseen nowadays given the scrutiny VAR now brings to the match so I can see why you and others are scratching your head!

I recall the 2014 German Argentina WC final in Brazil where the keeper for Germany Manuel Neuer just crushed the Argentinean striker Gonzalo Higuaín in the head with a high jump raised knee NOT only no penally, no card, no send off, they actually gave the restart to the German keeper! lol Worst referee decision ever and Germany won! Given Franck Kessie scored to bring IC back into the game all tied shortly after, things might be diffrent if they had gone down to ten? Mind you the perception and optics of the game on an international scale this was a well run tournament that created a lot of interest and excitement across the globe so dredging up, what ifs, might be considered a disservice to the great exhibition it was! It was a great Cinderella story after the adversity this team faced early on and credit to Nigeria because they know they lost to a team that simply wanted it more .


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Douglas,
I didn't watch the game so I haven't seen the incident in question, but if the VAR team didn't refer this to the referee for a review then I can only conclude that they didn't consider that it reached the level of a clear and obvious error.

Obviously I can't make a judgement, not having seen it but based on the fact that, as you say nobody, from the commentators at the time, to the reporters writing about it later, saw fit to mention it then perhaps it was not such a serious incident? Difficult to say.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Douglas
Good to hear from you.
Most neutral commentators are in agreement with you that this incident involving Kessie of Ivory Coast on Sanusi of Nigeria just before half time merited sanction and that Ivory Coast was lucky not to be a player short in the 2nd half.
Let me share some thought / observations.
# This was a FIFA / CAF final and all that entails. Referees are there for a long period and coached extensively by FIFA / CAFs Referee Technical team as to what is expected. Case in point was the caution for an Ivory Coast for delaying the restart in the final minute. The player took his time, set up to take the free kick, then left it for the goalkeeper to come forward. The referee correctly cautioned for that yet blew up some 7 seconds after the displayed 7 minutes had expired when at least 30+ seconds had been wasted including the card. Was the advice to referees to blow up at the displayed board time? I suspect so.
# FIFA at recent World Cups appeared to advise referees to limit the number of cards. This can be evidenced in the card tallies for the last three WCs.
Since the WC was first played only 5 players have ever been dismissed in a final most recently Zidane in 2006 and Heitinga in 2010. Most red cards happen in the early rounds. Red cards have fallen from 27 in Germany 2006 to 5 in Qatar. The amnesty on cautions after the Quarter Finals in Qatar is again evidence of the policy in my opinion.
In this game there were 5 cautions. The Nigerian goalkeeper and the Ivory Coast captain were cautioned for poor conduct at an injury stoppage just after half time, one was for delaying the restart, one was for taking too much time to be substituted and the 5th one was in the 90th minute for a pull back. So no reckless challenges in 97 minutes that merited a caution!
# You no doubt recall the infamous DeJong kick on Alonso in the 2010 final. Referee Howard Webb said that he was unsighted yet three other highly experienced match officials also *missed* it and all miked up. Is there a thinking that a dismissal will ruin a showcase final and that it has to be *stonewall* before its actioned?
# If a referee has seen an incident and sanctions it incorrectly that can be seen negatively in the post match review. Sanusi of Nigeria in fairness to him did not milk the incident much so perhaps the view was that it was a bit like the Osinihen incident earlier in the half.
# UEFA Refereeing policies are not used in these tournaments so what we have come to expect may not be implemented. Case in point is mass confrontations and contact on the head with an arm. UEFA expect at least one player from each side to be sanctioned in a mass confrontation and at least a caution for arm contact on an opponents head in a challenge. The mass confrontation in the 27th min involving the aerial challenge on Osinihen where he claimed he was elbowed did not result in ANY card despite pretty unsavoury conduct. Review would have shown that the Ivory Coast defender had his arm raised and he did make contact on the players head. Looking at the challenge it did not appear to be a deliberate elbow to the head yet in a UEFA game it would still be a caution.
# There was a lot of physicality in the game between two big strong sides. I thought some of the contact stepped over the mark yet not one card for reckless play.
In addition there was a fair bit of theatrics on show by some players. Case in point just after half time when an Ivory Coast player went down in the penalty area and stayed down. It was not a penalty and it was reviewed. Contact was minimal and no where near a foul. That led to two cautions for misconduct.
# The game was played in the Ivory Coast and no doubt Ivory Coast was televising the game. The TV Director may have decided not to replay the Kessie incident and as it was so close to half time pundits are focusing on what they are going to cover at half time.

So I read that some Nigerians feel hard done by in that some decisions did not go their way. I feel that the referee team I expect had a lot of FIFA / CAF Referee team advice to follow and that it may have caused decisions to lack conformity with what is expected including how VAR is used elsewhere . VAR was not prominent in the game which may also be policy.

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Answer provided by Referee MrRef

Hello Mr. Wix ,
while we can speculate, the only ones that can truly answer is the VAR officials and referee team on the pitch of the match. As to which interview or how their response is formulated or received might depend on whether those above really want the explanation public?
Our feelings is it was a good game, the players did not take off into orbit unlike say the Old Battle of Nuremberg (German: Schlacht von Nürnberg, Portuguese: Batalha de Nuremberga, Dutch: Slag van Neurenberg also known as the Massacre of Nuremberg) is the nickname of a football match played in the round of 16 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup between Portugal and the Netherlands where cards and send offs were record setting. We think the referee managed and accepted what the players were willing to tolerate and let the 22 men on the field decide the match. At some point I feel an interview or a response will highlight an opinion by those actually involved. Credit to the players on the field for their passion and sportsmanship and respect to each other .

from our pitch to your pitch in the spirt of Fair Play
Right at the very end
Off the ball and intentional.

Ref was looking right but there were two orange players in a diagonal, so his line of sight might be slightly compromised. The AR appeared to be looking at the ball itself? As he backed away I think he realized the player was on a run into space and lead into his path! More of a push but a chicken wing arm extension looked solid . While not an elbow to the head my initial gut was DFK and a caution at first glance. Do we think because the arm extended quickly and there was no head shot the referee just chose to ignore it?

We hold the belief the VAR probably did mention, "You want another look? " The referee might be worried, if he did review, he would HAVE to send off! Likely relieved the Nigerian player recovered quickly and while unhappy, did not go berserk or seem to be calling for a send off, although surely he wanted, and in our opinion, deserved the free kick. It is just an opinion, but I think being up a goal and the earlier card shown to the Nigerian coach for a similar incident earlier in the match and now being into the last few seconds of added time, he kept calmer than he might normally have been.

A case for RED and a direct send off could certainly be made but no free kick, no caution?
Definitely lucky!! Why did this not get more attention? Are we wrong to think the referee stopped play BECAUSE he thought it was a head injury?? There was no immediate whistle so a bit fuzzy. It does seem odd. But as said, let the on field crew deal with the speculations! Perhaps more of a "Lets not rock the boat just before halftime thinking? "

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