Politics plays its part in referee selection for major championships


Eight years ago I took a call from UEFA informing me of my non-selection for Euro 2004 in Portugal.

It was a real shock and probably the most disappointing decision of my career.

The call on December 3, 2003 was unprecedented; only those selected are contacted and yet I was called by a UEFA referee department employee.

International call: Graham Poll refereed at the 2006 World Cup in Germany

International call: Graham Poll refereed at the 2006 World Cup in Germany

This month, one English referee will get a call telling him he has been selected for next years European Championships in Poland and Ukraine and there are three elite UEFA referees in the running for that call; Howard Webb, Martin Atkinson and Mark Clattenburg.

Refereeing is highly competitive; the top referees are always aware of when the top games are coming up and all want to be appointed to the big games.

Sunday's FA Cup third round draw will have excited those same referees who will all fancy reffing the Manchester derby. The bigger the game the greater the challenge and the better feeling of satisfaction – as long as the game goes well.

However, as good as that FA Cup game will be, the ultimate selection is for a major championship finals; either the FIFA World Cup or UEFA European Championship.

That selection is made by the respective referees’ committee members and you would think their task is straight-forward; just look at the top ranked referees, as marked by their own appointed referee assessors and select them. However, the process for selection for 2004 tells me politics plays a huge part.

The reason I got that unprecedented call was that despite the committee’s suggested list of referees including me for Euro 2004 selection the English member used his privilege to object to my suggested selection, despite my ranking position, and effectively ‘black balled’ me -  much to the dismay of the rest of the committee.

I was unaware that they could do this and I truly hope that the outdated ‘right to veto’ has been removed and that the top marked referee is selected. Our English member on the UEFA referees’ committee is David Elleray and he must allow the top marked referee to be selected – whichever gentleman that is.

I knew the former chairman of that committee, German Volker Roth, and I asked him how he coped with the power that position afforded him. He corrected me by saying he had great responsibility and not power.

Let’s hope that Elleray believes the same – it’s the least that Atkinson, Clattenburg and Webb deserve.

 

GOOD WEEK FOR...

Tim Krul

BAD WEEK FOR...

Shaun Wright-Phillips

 
Tim Krul was in fine form
Shaun Wright-Phillips

He played really well in goal for Newcastle despite their 3-0 defeat to Chelsea.

The highlight for him was his penalty save from Frank Lampard but he was well off of his goal line when it was taken. When will assistant referees do their jobs and signal for a retake?

Saw his superb 'goal' for QPR ruled out incorrectly for offside. Rangers would have led 2-0 had the goal stood but it was not to be and West Brom came back to equalise.

It was a tight decision but a wrong one and assistant referees are told  to favour the attack with such close calls.

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