For the record:
Nielson ignored David Trezeguet’s handball incident before scoring France’s second goal against Croatia. It ended 2-2.
All sports should use replay feature, so the outcome of the game could be more accurate and more honest. One mistake by one person changed the outcome of the whole tournament, for example, and this is not just one example.
The good, bad and ugly; all were there
A spate of surprises made this edition of the European Championship different from earlier editions. Greece! Whoever thought? A game of uncertainties, no less. The big question is, did the standard of refereeing match all such superlative action? Before the championship Volker Roth, chairman of the Uefa referees’ committee, sounded over-confident about the standard of European referees. He had proudly said Europe have 12 of the best in the world. On the field, though, especially in crucial ties, it appeared that all that talk by the Uefa referees’ supremo was a bit exaggerated.
In the inaugural Portugal-Greece match, the famous Pierluigi Collina — this tourney being his retiring assignment — exhibited his normal high standard of officiating and repeated the same in his concluding international match between Greece and the Czech Republic in semi-final. But other celebrated European referees, like Kim Milton Nielson (Denmark), Urs Meier (Switzerland), Terze Hauge (Norway), Markus Merk (Germany) and Enrique Mejuto (Spain) fell short of their reputation.
Nielson ignored David Trezeguet’s handball incident before scoring France’s second goal against Croatia. It ended 2-2. Nielson also allowed Dutch star Ruud van Nistelrooy to score his first goal from a palpable off-side position against Latvia.
And Urs Meier’s cancellation of English defender Sol Campbell’s perfect header into the Portugal net in the 89th minute of the quarter final tie will remain a matter of big question for a long time. It remains unclear who committed the foul. It certainly wasn’t Campbell. John Terry has been mentioned later, but that wasn’t very clear, though, from what we saw. This decision will be debated for long.
Meier’s decision to uphold Swedish striker Ibrahimovic’s late equaliser against Italy was also questionable. It appeared that the lanky striker had deliberately pushed Zambrotta before putting the ball into the goal.
And the expulsion of Russia’s number one goalkeeper Ovchinnikov by Norwegian Referee Terj Hauge in the dying minute of the first half was really a gross mistake, too harsh, because Ovchinnikov came out of his penalty area to save the ball from Portuguese striker Pauleta and stopped the ball with his stomach. In the follow through a hand came on the ball, accidentally. The referee said otherwise.
It reminds me of an incident from the 1994 World Cup where Italian custodian Pagliuca was hauled up by German Referee Helmut Krag for depriving Norway an obvious scoring opportunity. But in that case Pagliuca had deliberately stopped the ball with his hand outside the penalty box.
Merk, who ultimately handled the final without any controversy, should have shown the red card to English goalkeeper David James, who denied an obvious scoring opportunity by tripping France’s Thierry Henry. There was no other defender behind James.
The awarding of a penalty, from which Zidane scored the winner was not enough. In the Czech Republic-Holland match Nistelrooy a goal from off-side position. This time the official was Majuto of Spain. Off course, before the goal he had deprived a penalty to the Dutch team when Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi was holding Nistelrooy in the penalty area and did not allow him to move.
But it is also to be admitted that apart from Collina, we have seen other high standard of refereeing and no big controversy hit the championship.
Sweden’s referee Anders Frisk should be mentioned first. The Uefa utilised him in most matches (four), which includes important group matches like Spain-Portugal, Germany-Holland, the quarter final between Greece and France and semi-final of Portugal and the Netherlands. When Nistelrooy called Frisk a “home blower” later, he was hauled up and penalised by the Uefa.
It is unfortunate that a Fifa referee gets such flak from a player despite such faultless refereeing.
In the 1974 World Cup final between West Germany and The Netherlands at Munich stadium, Johan Cruyff was booked by the then famous English referee Jack Taylor for misbehaving in the tunnel after first half. Totti’s spitting incident became a legend. Video help to determine faults (as also in the Swiss striker Alexander Frei case) resulted in banning of the player which made his team suffer immeasurably. Such TV help had been taken in the 1994 World Cup also, where Italian defender Mauro Tassotti was suspended for eight matches and fined for hitting Spain’s Luis Enrique.
Ronaldo got his booking for taking off his shirt, as per new rules. Referees, on the whole did their job well. Big questions marks, though, remain.