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Question Number: 29525

League Specific 7/9/2015

RE: World Cup Professional

Jesse Harrington of Radford , VA. USA asks...

I watched several of the recent Women's WC held up in Canada and was surprised not to see more USA officials there? Is FIFA upset at the USA for bringing charges against their corporation? I thought much of the officiating was sub standard and many matches were gift wrapped on weak penalties. As charged as I was to see our girls waltz over Japan I thought we were fortunate to get to that stage particularly with the German miss on a penalty in the box that should have also ejected the defender. Why does FIFA remain silent and why are the referees not held up to public scrutiny for such obvious blunders? Who choses the officials and why do so many seem to be so ill equipped to be effective?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jesse
The FIFA Referees Committee appoint the referees and assistant referees for matches in competitions organised by FIFA. It is chaired by Angel Maria Villar Llona of Spain and it has 17 international members.
There were 38 women selected by FIFA as candidates for the Women's World Cup 2015 Canada. That was reduced to 29 for the competition after tests etc in Zurich. As a World body FIFA tries to ensure that all Confederations are represented. CONCACAF of which the US is part of had 6 referees present out of the 29 total while UEFA had 9. USA has three women who are FIFA approved referees one of which Margaret Domka made the last 29 for the WC.
Referees and officials face increasing scrutiny on the most minor of decisions. This is part of the reason why it is so difficult to find referees who are up to the standards expected when judged against technology and who are prepared to put in the huge effort needed to get to this level and to stay at it. The referee pool simply is not expansive enough to pick officials who are all at the top-level, all of the time. I would also point out that many referees are not full time and have careers outside the game to manage. Can someone take 3/4 weeks plus another training week to travel to a tournament in Canada. While we might like to do it I'm sure many would find it a huge challenge from a personal and work perspective.
As regards being held accountable while not public it is dealt with by either game allocation or demotion through match assessment scores after review. Where a referee makes an obvious mistake of a serious game changing nature that results in a mark down in the referees assessment score. That can result in no further participation in the tournament or lesser games. A series of mark downs can and does results in a demotion from the FIFA list. I recall an error that one of the top assistants made in the Euro 2006 finals which has been documented on video. The error resulted in a poor mark and the referee crew did not make it to the final stages of the tournament when expected to do so.
As regards the effectiveness of refereeing I would make the point that referees are competing with technology and under huge scrutiny. In real time and in match situations what may be obvious on video review may not be so clear on the field of play. The penalty incident in the USA v Germany game is a case in point. Play transitioned very quickly which placed the referee poorly some 20/ 25 yards behind play after a high punt forward. After the foul was committed two covering defenders come into the frame. How does that look at ground level from the referees angle of view. The moment the whistle sounds there are three USA players behind the goalkeeper. That probably got the referee questioning herself as to whether all the four conditions existed for a sending off. If unsure then the referee went with the lesser sanction. Had it been shown the other way that it was a harsh sending off then the complaints would have been much more vociferous. I'm certain the referee knew the conditions and probably extremely disappointed on review of her call not to send off the offender. That though is part of the game and we must accept that all referees will get calls wrong . We don't get perfection from players, coaches so why must we expect it from referees. In many unpleasant games when a player has missed an easy chance I am sorely tempted to say * I suppose that is my fault as well*. Winning teams control what they can. They cant control the weather, the pitch, referee decisions. Teams lose because their opponents score more goals not because of refereeing. Perhaps if Germany scored the penalty the game would have played out differently.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

No. The selection of referees for the women's world cup began long before the USA's criminal case was announced. Moreover, other events - particularly injuries - affect who makes the final list.

Some of the reason for the referees at the finals involves politics, although not in the way your question supposes. When there are many excellent referees from one confederation (such as CONCACAF or EUFA), some may not be selected to ensure there are places for referees from each confederation that makes up FIFA. There are a number of US FIFA referees whom I hope will see at future tournaments.

My sense, however, is that the TV audience sees multiple, slow motion replays of a single incident, and then conclude that the referee was inept. Those in the stadium seeing it live have a very different reaction (except for the supporters who always see it with their hearts). For the most part, the performance of the referees at the three matches that I saw in person who excellent (one later did the final). Their fitness was outstanding. They controlled the matches with wisdom and strength. They created an environment for entertaining matches where the best players could show their skills.

We will always be disappointed if we expect perfection from referees. We don't expect it from the players and their coaches.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

FIFA tries to promote the selection process as all inclusive to unite the global family. It is unfortunate that as in any large organization where power money and politics reign so does greed, avarice and arrogance. The recent allegations of corruption at WORLD FOOTBALL lobbyists and deal makers that reside in the ivory towers of FIFA and CONCACAF are another example of a government agency with no accountability!

I prefer to imagine those who officiate at the world stage are not linked to the scandal .I rather live in the belief as my Mentor Esse Baharmast showed at the 1998 French World Cup that a referee with integritry see what they see even if we see it differently! It is easy to find fault when we look to see it! Be it the player's skills , the coaches tactics or an official's decision, every match debate.

Each Country only has a few representatives with FIFA qualifications. Their availability is dependant not only being selected but their fitness or readiness to participate. I have heard rumours that some USA woman ARs who could have been selected were in the family way and or injured and thus not physically capable of running about the pitch without concern to their wellbeing.

The introduction of goal line technology might serve as a jumping point for further techno intervention. There is no doubt, multiple camera angles, video freeze frame, and frame by frame reviews polishes the glare on ANY obvious mistakes.

There were fouls OUTSIDE the PA awarded as PKs! There were PKs awarded inside the PA that were not fouls at all. There were fouls awarded for handling the ball deliberately that certainly were suspect and others blatantly performed were missed. There were two offside goals permitted to stand resulting in a 3 to 2 victory for the team guilty.
Yet if you look back to the 2014 Men's World Cup We saw offside goals disallowed that were PERFECTLY GOOD GOALS! We saw multiple fouls uncalled and cautions or send offs not awarded? In the Men's FINAL we saw the keeper drive his knee into the head of an opponent not only with no card no PK or DFK but a free kick awarded in HIS favour??? We watched a German striker earlier in that same match dodge a straight leg PIADM from the other keeper with not so much as a uh uh be careful wag of a finger!

We ...KNOW... as an official ON the field of play we get 1 chance from whatever angle we are at when ever something occurs in a blink of an eye to process and...DECIDE ...upon a course of action. 3 choices
(1) do nothing play continues
(2) stop play, consequences to what we saw require our immediate intervention
(3) wait, think, apply advantage, maybe stop, maybe not, can deal later with consequences

The thing is anyone of the 3 could be the wrong decision and we have no instant replay to review, we have no committee overseeing our decisions even if they plan to rip a strip off of us AFTER in the post game review. Do you think we should introduce ...MORE...oversight into official decision making?? It has been suggested! An AR told no flag, things are fine! As stop frame gives instant feedback. A CR told NOT a PK it was outside the penalty area or show a caution it was a DIVE or Send him off he elbowed the guy in the mouth or she stomped her as she ran by we have it clearly on the screen in front of us??? Perhaps it is inevitable that TV review is going to impact the elite levels of the game but for us at the grass roots this will never occur!

If there are issues with the selection process in trying to involve less capable officials to sprinkle the idea of equity on a global game or the accountability it is because here is TOO MUCH behind the scene micromanaging of every facet of their character not to appear as if pressure affects them. Esse's defining moment was caught on a camera angle most viewers never saw. So for almost 2 days the mighty FIFA organization and most of the WORLD thumbed their noses whispering of his incompetence, tsk, tsk, getting ready to send him home. The irony is he went on to be the technical director of the USSF and an instructor of the FIFA Referee Committee because the foul... HE SAW... a single camera angle in behind the goal caught what a billion plus watching MISSED! The about face by all was astonishing and how PROUD they all NOW were because we did NOT have to rely on just his ...word... (previously worth nothing) there was in fact a foul, it was a PK and he was 100% correct!!

FIFA is in my opinion a collection of multifaceted egos, many with integrity, some not so much, respecting effort and offering sincere praise, IF you play, do or say the right things yet ever lurking in the shadows there seems to be a power structure of fear and intimidation to disembowel those who do not fit their profile and lend support only when the evidence is more than someone's word or profits to be made!

Personally I dislike FIFA and their current structure even if I know of several integral and positive individuals within their corrupt organization. There is no strong reorganization force willing to step up to overhaul and take their place as a FOOTBALL saviour. In my opinion, too few, possess far too much influence.

To be seen and liked, viewed as competent or outstanding and physically fit with the time and ego to persevere. There have been more people on the moon (12 if we believe NASA! lol than refereed the woman WC finals? although that might have been true to the men's back in the 60s we are at 20 WC as of 2014. It takes a great deal of sacrifice to commit to a regime of officiating if you are not professional then you are balancing jobs and family.

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