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.