Hanging judge I The referee legacy of Euro 2020

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Referee Björn Kuipers talks to Marco Verratti of Italy during the UEFA Euro 2020 Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium. Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images
Referee Björn Kuipers talks to Marco Verratti of Italy during the UEFA Euro 2020 Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium. Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images


The Euros are finally over and the champions have been awarded the coveted trophy. It’s safe to say there were many good games and some not-so-great ones, not to mention one or two surprise earlier-than-expected eliminations as well. But that is football.

From a refereeing point of view, there were some excellent performances and, like the teams, some not-so-lekker ones.

I thought the referee for the final, Björn Kuipers from the Netherlands, was composed and confident. There were a few attempts by some players to deceive him, but he wasn’t fooled.

As is the case nowadays, the video assistant referee (VAR) played a pivotal role in some instances while in others the referee didn’t even bother to check the technology. One wonders why as there were a few incidents that surely warranted closer scrutiny.

That’s his choice, of course, because, as I’ve always said, law 5 of the Fifa laws of the game gives him that prerogative.

READ: Hanging Judge | Was the ref right?

Be that as it may, there was one incident where a Wales player got a straight red card which, in my opinion, only deserved a yellow.

Overall, however, I thought the officiating was good and there were no major controversies.

The cancer of deceit, diving and blatant cheating seems to continue unabated, with little or no appetite from the powers that be to curb that pandemic. I say pandemic because it’s not only in one country or league, but throughout the world.

The ones with the real power to stop it are the referees – again, law 5.

The main problem is that the refs are not enforcing the law

The main problem is that the refs are not enforcing the law. The players and their respective clubs have become so powerful and influential that referees are under pressure to keep everyone on side. Couple that with the “soccer politicians” who invariably stick their fingers into the pie and you can see how referees are out on a limb. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

I’ve long called for an independent refereeing body separate from the politicians so the referees can be free to make decisions during games without interference.

I know there will be those who say that would be like the police investigating the police. I agree, but not all police officers are corrupt or bad.

The ref has the final say

Sadly, the VAR mechanism appears to be dominating discussions when it comes to game analyses. It must be remembered that the referee, according to law 5, has the final say when it comes to on-field decisions.

They can make use of the VAR if there is a “clear and obvious error” that he/she had not picked up.

READ: Hanging Judge | Confusion reigns when refs are indecisive

In the semifinal between England and Denmark, the referee obviously didn’t think that there was a clear and obvious error, and hence didn’t feel the need to consult the VAR. It’s important to stress that he didn’t have to. He had the final say on all matters pertaining to the game.

Please stay safe and well out there. This pandemic is not over yet. Protect yourselves and your families, and observe all medical and scientific advice. No one is safe until everyone is safe.

Happy whistling!


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