Sandro Ricci and Fernanda Colombo announced their marriage on TV

World Cup referee Sandro Ricci (44) and former assistant referee Fernanda Colombo (27) announced live on TV that they are engaged and will soon be getting married. Invited to participate in a Brazilian TV show, the two of them were holding hands all the time, even when the other participants played tricks.
Ricci revealed that they will be getting married in August, after the World Cup. Asked how they met, Sandro said it was because of the work in common, refereeing, but not on the field. "We did not have the opportunity to work together. We met once in these hotels that the referees usually stays. It was even here in São Paulo, but it was just a normal, formal presentation, and after a while we contacted each other again. I mean, I went after her", he recalls. "Even when I went to the Pernambuco Federation, Sandro, who was in the Pernambuco Federation, went to Catarinense. So, we took opposite paths in the year that was for us to work together", added Fernanda.
Sandro Ricci was born on 19 November 1974. In March 2013, after two other Brazilian pre-selected referees (Seneme and Vuaden) failed their fitness tests, Ricci was added to the candidate referees list for the 2014 World Cup. He followed a strict preparation program and made the final list for the World Cup hosted by his home country, only 3 years after becoming a FIFA referee. He will likely attend his second World Cup this summer in Russia.
Born on 24 April 1991, Fernanda Colombo began working as an assistant referee in 2010 and was recognised by FIFA four years later. But sexism within the sport plagued her and marred the achievement. In February 2017, she retired her flag and went on to write a book on football rules called "Exposed in a More Playful Way", and is looking for a publisher to release it. She explained: "I have new priorities in life. I still love football and refereeing, and will follow new projects in the sport. My goal now is to launch the book and work in sports journalism. Fernanda was heavily criticised for flagging Cruzeiro star Alisson offside when through on goal in a 2-1 defeat to Atletico Mineiro in 2014. Speaking to Globo, Cruzeiro chief Alexandre Mattos blasted: "The woman AR is pretty, but she is not ready. The guys scream and she misses. If she is pretty, go pose for Playboy, not work in football." The next year, Fernanda switched from the Catarinense Federation to the Pernambucana, but controversy followed her. "Unfortunately, mistakes will always be more remembered than the correct ones".

Source: OTempo

The official referee watch: Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Wanting a customised watch for the referees, FIFA asked Hublot to conceive the perfect watch to accompany them on the pitches during the matches. Hublot designed this connected watch, its first, for the footballing universe: the Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. It is a unique edition that is limited to 2018 pieces. It has all the attributes of the iconic Big Bang. Its emblematic architecture cut out of the lightness of titanium, its bezel decorated with 6 H-shaped screws, its Kevlar insert. Even the display on its analogue mode dial could pass for the same aesthetic as that of the automatic models. In terms of size, its 49-mm case is what makes the first difference, then its motor, which, for the first time, is driven by technology connected to digital intelligence.
Beating to the rhythm of the football, the Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia immediately shows its distinctive spirit as the personification of an application specially developed for the competition and a series of “fan” dials in the colours of each participating nation. Featuring several notifications, the Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia announces matches 15 minutes before their kick-off, as well as yellow and red cards, player changes and goals. The Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia vibrates, displaying the word GOAL instantly every time a goal is scored. During the match, the dial shows the match statistics including the score, number of cards, names of goal-scorers, player substitutions and match time. The digital world provides the Big Bang with even greater flexibility and versatility. A watch which - having emblematically borne the first Hublot manufacture movement, the most unusual and audacious materials, the most assertive colours - has been reinvented for the digital era by offering 32 dials inspired by the flags of the participating countries, and two neutral dials. It is available in analogue or digital versions. Thanks to its patented interchangeable “One Click” strap, the watch can easily be matched to one of its two straps. Two are provided with the watch, a cuff strap in sponge sporting the 2018 FIFA World Cup emblem and that of Hublot, a black lined natural rubber strap. So as to perfect each fan’s kit, Hublot has also anticipated an additional strap for them in the colours of their country. In a turn of the dial, with the swipe of a finger, select your team or closely follow a competitor. The Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia has already been tested discreetly on the wrist of the referees many times during the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and the FIFA Club World Cup 2017. Benefiting from the Android living ecosystem, the Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia has thousands of downloadable applications in addition to its competition functions. In terms of synchronisation, the Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia is compatible with all telephones using Android 4.4 and above or iOS 9 and above. For charging, the watch just needs to be placed on a contact charger.
As well as all the functions available on the 2018 numbered models of the Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, the referees’ watches will be connected to goal-line technology, an electronic video assistance system for refereeing which follows all the trajectories of the ball and determines for certain if the ball did or did not entirely cross the goal line. On the pitch, the watchmaker will be ever present in the game as always, by sequencing time, changes and extra time to the rhythm of its Big Bang-shaped referee boards. A board that has proved itself, as it is behind Hublot’s greatest visibility during matches. In the current digital world, it will be the very first competition in which the referees are supported by video assistance. From Saint Petersburg to Moscow via Ekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk, Sochi and Volgograd, there are 12 stadiums for 32 teams playing 64 matches. Limited to 2018 pieces, available from 1 May, 2018 in Hublot sales outlets, this is the football watch, and the Official FIFA Watch.

Source: Hublot

International Friendly Matches

22-27 March 2018

Italy – Argentina
Referee: Martin Atkinson (ENG, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Lee Betts (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Constantine Hatzidakis (ENG)
Fourth Official: Craig Pawson (ENG)

Russia – Brazil
Referee: Aleksei Kulbakov (BLR)
Assistant Referee 1: Dmitri Zhuk (BLR)
Assistant Referee 2: Aleh Maslianka (BLR)
Fourth Official: Denis Scherbakov (BLR)

Netherlands – England
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Angel Nevado Rodríguez (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Yuste Jimenez (ESP)
Fourth Official: Carlos del Cerro Grande (ESP)

Austria – Slovenia
Referee: Stephan Klossner (SUI)
Assistant Referee 1: Remy Zgraggen (SUI)
Assistant Referee 2: Maro Zürcher (SUI)
Fourth Official: Urs Schnyder (SUI)

Bulgaria – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Referee: François Letexier (FRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Hicham Zakrani (FRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Cyril Mugnier (FRA)
Fourth Official: Stanislav Todorov (BUL)

France – Colombia
Referee: Adrien Jaccottet (SUI)
Assistant Referee 1: Vital Jobin (SUI)
Assistant Referee 2: Alain Heiniger (SUI)

Fourth Official: Fedayi San (SUI)

Liechtenstein – Andorra
Referee: Rohit Saggi (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Geir Isaksen (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Jan Engan (NOR)
Fourth Official: Ola Hobber Nilsen (NOR)

Referee: Enea Jorgji (ALB)
Assistant Referee 1: Ermal Barushi (ALB)
Assistant Referee 2: Rejdi Avdo (ALB)
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani (MLT)

Cyprus – Montenegro
Referee: Roi Reinshreiber (ISR)
Assistant Referee 1: Yehoshua Mozes (ISR)
Assistant Referee 2: Matityahu Yakobov (ISR)
Fourth Official: Leóntios Tráttou (CYP)

Faroe Islands – Latvia
Referee: Ola Hobber Nilsen (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Jan Engan (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Geir Isaksen (NOR)
Fourth Official: Rohit Saggi (NOR)

Denmark – Panama
Referee: Neil Doyle (IRL)

Assistant Referee 1: Emmet Dynan (IRL)
Assistant Referee 2: Allen Lynch (IRL) 

Fourth Official: Peter Kjaersgaard (DEN)

China – Wales

Referee: Mohd Bin Yaacob (MAS)
Assistant Referee 1: George Lakrindis (AUS)
Assistant Referee 2: Mohamad Zainal (MAS)
Fourth Official: Christopher Beath (AUS)

Slovakia – UAE

Referee: Letchman Krishnan (SIN)
Assistant Referee 1: Abdul Hasim (SIN)
Assistant Referee 2: Pattarapong Kijsathit (THA)

Germany – Spain
Referee: William Collum (SCO)
Assistant Referee 1: David McGeachie (SCO)
Asssitant Referee 2: Francis Connor (SCO)
Fourth Official: John Beaton (SCO)

Mexico – Iceland
Referee: Armando Villarreal (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Ian Anderson (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Jeff Hosking (USA)
Fourth Official: Karen Abt (USA)

Peru – Croatia
Referee: Ismail Elfath (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Charles Morgante (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Adam Wienckowski (USA)
Fourth Official: Ted Unkel (USA)

Poland – Nigeria
Referee: Michael Oliver (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Stephen Child (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Stuart Burt (ENG)
Fourth Official: Robert Madley (ENG)

Saudi Arabia – Ukraine
Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Roberto Alonso Fernández (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Javier Aguilar Rodríguez (ESP)
Fourth Official: Xavier Estrada Fernández (ESP)

Scotland – Costa Rica
Referee: Tobias Stieler (GER)
Assistant Referee 1: Jan Seidel (GER)
Assistant Referee 2: Markus Häcker (GER)
Fourth Official: Harm Osmers (GER)

Turkey – Ireland
Referee: Slavko Vinčič (SVN)
Assistant Referee 1: Tomaž Klančnik (SVN)
Assistant Referee 2: Andraž Kovačič (SVN)
Fourth Official: Hüseyin Göçek (TUR)

Portugal – Egypt
Referee: Paolo Mazzoleni (ITA)
Assistant Referee 1: Matteo Passeri (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Fabiano Preti (ITA)
Fourth Official: Marco Guida (ITA)
VAR: Davide Massa (ITA)
AVAR: Andrea Crispo (ITA)

Sweden – ChileReferee: Anthony Taylor (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Gary Beswick (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Adam Nunn (ENG)
Fourth Official: Stuart Attwell (ENG)

Israel – Romania
Referee: Dimítris Masiás (CYP)
Assistant Referee 1: Charálampos Georgíou (CYP)
Assistant Referee 2: Mários Kalogírou (CYP)
Fourth Official: Orel Grinfeld (ISR)

Armenia – Estonia
Referee: Giorgi Vadachkoria (GEO)
Assistant Referee 1: Davit Chigogidze (GEO)
Assistant Referee 2: Zaza Pipia (GEO)
Fourth Official: Arman Alaberkyan (ARM)

Canada – New Zealand
Referee: David Fernández Borbalán (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Raúl Cabañero Martínez (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Diego Barbero Sevilla (ESP)
Fourth Official: José Sánchez Martínez (ESP)

Sweden – Chile
Referee: Anthony Taylor (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Gary Beswick (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Adam Nunn (ENG)
Fourth Official: Stuart Attwell (ENG)

Israel – Romania
Referee: Dimítris Masiás (CYP)
Assistant Referee 1: Charálampos Georgíou (CYP)
Assistant Referee 2: Mários Kalogírou (CYP)
Fourth Official: Orel Grinfeld (ISR)

Liechtenstein – Faroe Islands
Referee: Rohit Saggi (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Geir Isaksen (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Mahbod Beigi (SWE)
Fourth Official: Martin Strömbergsson (SWE)

Albania – Norway

Referee: Fyodor Zammit (MLT)
Assistant Referee 1: Luke Portelli (MLT)
Assistant Referee 2: Mitchell Scerri (MLT)

Bulgaria – Kazakhstan

Referee: Tamás Bognár (HUN)
Assistant Referee 1: Balázs Buzás (HUN)
Assistant Referee 2: Theodoros Georgiou (HUN)
Fourth Official: Ferenc Karakó (HUN)

Denmark – Chile
Referee: John Beaton (SCO)
Assistant Referee 1: Alan Mulvanny (SCO)
Assistant Referee 2: Stuart Stevenson (SCO)
Fourth Official: Jens Maae (DEN)

England – Italy
Referee: Deniz Aytekin (GER)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduard Beitinger (GER)
Assistant Referee 2: Rafael Foltyn (GER)
Fourth Official: Marco Fritz (GER)
VAR: Daniel Siebert (GER)
AVAR: Benjamin Brand (GER)

Georgia – Estonia
Referee: Aleksei Kulbakov (BLR)
Assistant Referee 1: Vitaĺi Maliutin (BLR)
Assistant Referee 2: Aleh Maslianka (BLR)
Fourth Official: Giorgi Vadachkoria (GEO)

Germany – Brazil
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Mathias Klasenius (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Wärnmark (SWE)
Fourth Official: Glenn Nyberg (SWE)

Spain – Argentina

Referee: Anthony Taylor (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Gary Beswick (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Adam Nunn (ENG)
Fourth Official: Carlos Del Cerro Grande (ESP)

Hungary – Scotland
Referee: Harald Lechner (AUT)
Assistant Referee 1: Roland Riedel (AUT)
Assistant Referee 2: Robert Steinacher (AUT)

Slovenia – Belarus
Referee: Fran Jović (CRO)
Assistant Referee 1: Ivica Modrić (CRO)
Assistant Referee 2: Igor Krmar (CRO)
Fourth Official: Dejan Balažić (SVN)

Iran – Algeria
Referee: Julian Weinberger (AUT)
Assistant Referee 1: Maximilian Kolbitsch (AUT)
Assistant Referee 2: Andreas Heidenreich (AUT)
Fourth Official: Christopher Jäger (AUT)

Luxembourg – Austria
Referee: Mattias Gestranius (FIN)
Assistant Referee 1: Mikko Alakare (FIN)
Assistant Referee 2: Ville Koskiniemi (FIN)
Fourth Official: Ville Nevalainen (FIN)

Montenegro – Turkey

Referee: Milorad Mažić (SRB)
Assistant Referee 1: Milovan Ristić (SRB)
Assistant Referee 2: Dalibor Đurđević (SRB)

Peru – Iceland
Referee: Ted Unkel (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Adam Wienckowski (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Charles Morgante (USA)
Fourth Official: Armando Villarreal (USA)

Poland – South Korea
Referee: Tore Hansen (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Jon Michael Knutsen (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Oystein Ytterland (NOR)
Fourth Official: Daniel Stefański (POL)

Russia – France
Referee: Gediminas Mažeika (LTU)
Assistant Referee 1: Vytautas Šimkus (LTU)
Assistant Referee 2: Vytenis Kazlauskas (LTU)

Switzerland – Panama
Referee: Oliver Drachta (AUT)
Assistant Referee 1: Roland Brandner (AUT)
Assistant Referee 2: Christian Rigler (AUT)

Tunisia – Costa Rica
Referee: Frank Schneider (FRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Julien Pacelli (FRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Bertrand Jouannaud (FRA)
Fourth Official: Benoît Millot (FRA)

UEFA Women’s Champions League – Quarter-finals (First Leg)

21-22 March 2018

Manchester City – Linköping
Referee: Stephanie Frappart (FRA, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Manuela Nicolosi (FRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Rocio Puente Pino (ESP)
Fourth Official: Victoria Beyer (FRA)
Referee Observer: Eleni Kiriou (GRE)

Montpellier – Chelsea
Referee: Kateryna Monzul (UKR)
Assistant Referee 1: Maryna Striletska (UKR)
Assistant Referee 2: Mihaela Tepusa (ROU)
Fourth Official: Kateryna Usova (UKR)
Referee Observer: Jenny Palmqvist (SWE)

Wolfsburg – Slavia Praha
Referee: Florence Guillemin (FRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Solenne Bartnik (FRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Elodie Coppola (FRA) 

Fourth Official: Celine Bagrowski (FRA)
Referee Observer: Ingrid Jonsson (SWE)

Lyon – Barcelona
Referee: Pernilla Larsson (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Sian Massey (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Lisa Rashid (ENG)
Fourth Official: Tess Olofsson (SWE)
Referee Observer: Regina Konink-Belksma (NED)

FC Porto reveals an email exchange between referee Pinheiro and Benfica

Francisco Marques, communication and information director of FC Porto, revealed a new series of emails, accusing Nuno Cabral, who allegedly used, through a second email address, the alter ego 'Eva Mendes', to be the "intermediary" between referee João Pinheiro (photo) and Benfica.
"On 19 February, Eva Mendes - I only know an American actress by that name - sent an email to Paulo Gonçalves, without text, but with a document attached. It was the observation report of referee João Pinheiro in the game Moreirense – Belenenses, finished with the result 3-2 for Belenenses and the referee received an unsatisfactory mark of 2.3. This interest of… Eva Mendes for the Portuguese refereeing is very strange", says Francisco Marques, who later saw a new exchange of emails. "The consultation of other emails allowed us to put things together". On 23 March, referee João Pinheiro sent another email to Nuno Cabral, the 'dear boy' of João Pinheiro, who wanted to get a 3.4, that is closer to 'very good.' Then, Nuno Cabral sends this to Eva Mendes, who in turn replies to Paulo Gonçalves again. Final decision, it was "unanimously decided that the note should remain at 2.3", he wrote. "This is an alter ego of Nuno Cabral, who has a second email whose name is Eva Mendes". This would be a joke if it were not for Nuno Cabral being an intermediary between João Pinheiro and Benfica. And it is not the only case; there is more. How is it possible that a referee from the First League is using Nuno Cabral as an intermediary? "Is a thing like this admissible? Are they going to continue to pretend that these things do not exist?" The referee, João Pinheiro, was not supposed to respond? The FPF and the authorities cannot continue to keep their arms crossed", concluded Marques.

Source: Record

UEFA U-21 Euro 2019 Qualifiers (Matchday 11)

22-23 March 2018

Northern Ireland – Spain

Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (POL, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Dawid Golis (POL)
Assistant Referee 2: Jakub Winkler (POL)
Fourth Official: Zbigniew Dobrynin (POL)
Referee Observer: Laurent Duhamel (FRA)

Germany – Israel

Referee: Mario Zebec (CRO)
Assistant Referee 1: Borut Križarić (CRO)
Assistant Referee 2: Jerko Crnčić (CRO)
Fourth Official: Bruno Marić (CRO)
Referee Observer: Raymond Ellingham (WAL)

Greece – San Marino
Referee: Fyodor Zammit (MLT)
Assistant Referee 1: Luke Portelli (MLT)
Assistant Referee 2: Mitchell Scerri (MLT)
Fourth Official: Matthew De Gabriele (MLT)
Referee Observer: David Malcolm (NIR)

Kosovo – Azerbaijan

Referee: Donald Robertson (SCO)
Assistant Referee 1: Jordan Stokoe (SCO)
Assistant Referee 2: Sean Carr (SCO)
Fourth Official: Nicholas Walsh (SCO)
Referee Observer: Nikolai Ivanov (RUS)

Hungary – Cyprus
Referee: Robert Harvey (IRL)
Assistant Referee 1: Dermot Broughton (IRL)
Assistant Referee 2: Mark Gavin (IRL)
Fourth Official: Graham Kelly (IRL)
Referee Observer: Karel Bohuněk (CZE)

Turkey – Sweden

Referee: Dennis Higler (NED) 

Assistant Referee 1: Charles Schaap (NED) 
Assistant Referee 2: Jan de Vries (NED)
Fourth Official: Siemen Mulder (NED)
Referee Observer: António Almeida (POR)

FYR Macedonia – Russia
Referee: Horațiu Feșnic (ROU)
Assistant Referee 1: Alexandru Cerei (ROU)
Assistant Referee 2: Valentin Avram (ROU)
Fourth Official: Andrei Chivulete (ROU)
Referee Observer: Vadims Direktorenko (LVA)

Kazakhstan – France

Referee: Keith Kennedy (NIR)
Assistant Referee 1: Stephen Donaldson (NIR)
Assistant Referee 2: Georgios Argyropoulos (NIR)
Fourth Official: Ian McNabb (NIR)
Referee Observer: Petteri Kari (FIN)

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Wales
Referee: Espen Eskås (NOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Kim Haglund (NOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Morten Jensen (NOR)
Fourth Official: Kai Erik Steen (NOR)
Referee Observer: Ioánnis Tsacheilídis (GRE)

Czech Republic – Croatia
Referee: Alexandre Boucaut (BEL)
Assistant Referee 1: Laurent Conotte (BEL)
Assistant Referee 2: Frédéric Godelaine (BEL)
Fourth Official: Jan Boterberg (BEL)
Referee Observer: Brian Lawlor (WAL)

Georgia – Faroe Islands

Referee: Zaven Hovhannisyan (ARM)
Assistant Referee 1: Mesrop Ghazaryan (ARM)
Assistant Referee 2: Erik Arevshatyan (ARM)
Fourth Official: Suren Baliyan (ARM)
Referee Observer: Dragutin Poljak (CRO)

Lithuania – Finland
Referee: Zbyněk Proske (CZE)
Assistant Referee 1: Radek Kotík (CZE)
Assistant Referee 2: Tomáš Mokrusch (CZE)
Fourth Official: Ondřej Berka (CZE)
Referee Observer: Plarent Kotherja (ALB)

Albania – Slovakia

Referee: Stefan Apostolov (BUL)
Assistant Referee 1: Veselin Dobriyanov (BUL)
Assistant Referee 2: Ivo Kolev (BUL)
Fourth Official: Nikola Popov (BUL)
Referee Observer: Cyril Zimmermann (SUI)

Andorra – Scotland
Referee: Alain Durieux (LUX)
Assistant Referee 1: Daniel Da Costa (LUX)
Assistant Referee 2: Tom Hansen (LUX)
Fourth Official: Laurent Wilmes (LUX)
Referee Observer: Dejan Filipović (SRB)

Luxembourg – Montenegro

Referee: Mykola Balakin (UKR)
Assistant Referee 1: Ihor Alokhin (UKR)
Assistant Referee 2: Semen Shlonchak (UKR)
Fourth Official: Vitali Romanov (UKR)
Referee Observer: Eyjólfur Ólafsson (ISL)

Portugal – Liechtenstein

Referee: Genc Nuza (KVX)
Assistant Referee 1: Fatlum Berisha (KVX)
Assistant Referee 2: Bujar Selimaj (KVX)
Fourth Official: Visar Kastrati (KVX)
Referee Observer: Aleksei Spirin (RUS)

Gibraltar – Serbia
Referee: Juri Frischer (EST)
Assistant Referee 1: Dmitri Vinogradov (EST)
Assistant Referee 2: Veiko Mõtsnik (EST)
Fourth Official: Kristo Külljastinen (EST)
Referee Observer: Ferenc Székely (HUN)

FIFA council approves VAR for World Cup 2018

FIFA has finally and fully approved video review to help referees at the World Cup. The last step toward giving match officials high-tech help in Russia was agreed to on Friday by FIFA's ruling council chaired by President Gianni Infantino. The decision came two weeks after FIFA's rule-making panel voted to write video assistant referees (VAR) into the laws of football. That landmark move still left competition organisers to opt to use video review in their games, and FIFA's ruling committee had to sign off on the World Cup decision. FIFA Council member Reinhard Grindel wrote on his Twitter account that clear communication will be important to make the system a success - and was promised on Friday by Infantino.
Referees can call on VAR to review and overturn 'clear and obvious errors' plus 'serious missed incidents' involving goals, penalty awards, red cards, and mistaken identity. Infantino acknowledged two weeks ago that VAR was currently 'not perfect' after the rules panel, known as IFAB, met in Zurich. In 18 months of trials worldwide - including at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, Bundesliga, and Serie A - reviews have often been slower than promised and communication has been unclear in the stadium. Controversy has been stirred even by the most experienced VAR officials who have handled many more games than most referees who will work at the 64-game World Cup. A total of 36 referees, plus their teams of assistants, are being trained by FIFA for World Cup duty and many come from countries which do not use video review in domestic games. FIFA will now look to sign a World Cup sponsor for video review at the June 14-July 15 tournament.

Source: Daily Mail

Refereeing in the genes for Borjas

The careers of many female international footballers have started out the same way: by playing alongside boys because there were no girls' teams available. Melissa Borjas is no exception, even if her role in the game is rather different now; she is a referee, not a player. "One of my uncles was an assistant referee, so I have it in my genes so to speak," she told with a smile. "I used to just play football for fun, to enjoy the moment and chill out with my friends. But my uncle started to ask if I wanted to try refereeing, saying that I might like it." The fact that Borjas became the first female referee to officiate a match in the Honduran top flight – La Liga Nacional de Futbol Profesional de Honduras – shows just how right he was. "It was a really big gesture from my federation and the refereeing department to give me the opportunity," the 31-year-old said. "Before I started my 'domestic' career, I was already a FIFA referee and had international experience at FIFA tournaments, CONCACAF tournaments and international friendly games - but nothing in my own country." That all began to change thanks to the influence of social media platforms: "People began to ask online: 'Why is Melissa so important outside Honduras but not at home? You have to give her a match. Then we'll see what the difference is and why she's so great in the international game.' So the federation gave me the opportunity and I got my game. Afterwards, there was no doubt among my colleagues, instructors and on social media that I could stay in the top division".
Borjas' hard work has also paved the way for other women to follow in her footsteps into refereeing, even if she does not consider herself to be a role model. "I don't like being the centre of attention," the likeable Honduran said modestly. "But if I can involve more women in refereeing, so be it. For me, that's great." She much prefers focusing her attention on her own role as a referee and the decisions she has to make out on the pitch. For as is the case among all officials, Borjas constantly needs to prove herself time and again. "There are always some players that try to intimidate me," she said, smiling. "I'm never disrespectful to players. I just stop talking, as if to say: I'm not discussing things with you anymore. I'm a respectful person and you're not.' Strangely enough, when I stop talking they start to figure out how they should behave." Borjas is also well aware that her fitness levels are subject to intense scrutiny: "When I make a difficult decision they say: 'Hey Melissa, you were in midfield so how can you make a decision for something that happened inside the penalty area?' So I reply: 'I wasn't in midfield, I'm right here behind you. Why do you think you have to question my decision? Do you think I'm not fit enough?' Sometimes referees are fitter than the players. It's funny. Obviously men and women are different but it always comes down to your fitness first and foremost. We prepare for that. Just look at some of the exercises we do at our seminars. It's tough. But you have to be ready." Being prepared for the next challenge is indeed crucial, and is a habit that will stand Borjas in good stead ahead of her next aim of refereeing at the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019. "I'll never forget my first game at a World Cup. It was at Canada 2015, Ecuador against Japan. It was a really nice surprise to receive the appointment for the World Cup. I'll never forget that match because I was the first Honduran referee – male or female – to take charge of a World Cup game".

Source: FIFA

Prospective World Cup ARs tested in Dubai

The Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) has announced on Twitter that all four North American assistant referees (Frank Anderson, Corey Rockwell, Joe Fletcher and Ian Anderson) passed their fitness test in Dubai. 
The decisive FIFA Referee Seminars for the World Cup selection are taking place on 12-16 March 2018 (AFC, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL) and 19-23 March 2018 (CAF, OFC, UEFA) in Dubai (UAE). All candidate referee trios and video assistant referees will participate in various training activities and fitness tests that will determine the final list of match officials appointed to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Source: PSRA

UEFA Europa League – Round of 16 (Second Leg)

15 March 2018

Viktoria Plzeň – Sporting CP
Referee: Tobias Stieler (GER, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Mike Pickel (GER)
Assistant Referee 2: Jan Seidel (GER)
Additional AR 1: Marco Fritz (GER)
Additional AR 2: Patrick Ittrich (GER)
Fourth Official: Christian Gittelmann (GER)
Referee Observer: Nikolai Levnikov (RUS)

Lokomotiv Moskva – Atlético de Madrid

Referee: Artur Soares Dias (POR)
Assistant Referee 1: Rui Tavares (POR)
Assistant Referee 2: Paulo Santos (POR)
Additional AR 1: Hugo Miguel (POR)
Additional AR 2: João Pinheiro (POR)
Fourth Official: Bruno Rodrigues (POR)
Referee Observer: Michel Piraux (BEL)

Athletic Club – Olympique de Marseille
Referee: Anthony Taylor (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Gary Beswick (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Adam Nunn (ENG)
Additional AR 1: Craig Pawson (ENG)
Additional AR 2: Stuart Attwell (ENG)
Fourth Official: Constantine Hatzidakis (ENG)
Referee Observer: Alexandru Deaconu (ROU)

FC Zenit – RB Leipzig
Referee: Daniele Orsato (ITA)
Assistant Referee 1: Riccardo Di Fiore (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Lorenzo Manganelli (ITA)
Additional AR 1: Luca Banti (ITA)
Additional AR 2: Antonio Damato (ITA)
Fourth Official: Alessandro Giallatini (ITA)
Referee Observer: Geórgios Bíkas (GRE)

Dynamo Kyiv – Lazio
Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Ángel Nevado Rodríguez (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Diego Barbero Sevilla (ESP)
Additional AR 1: Carlos Del Cerro Grande (ESP)
Additional AR 2: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea (ESP)
Fourth Official: Roberto Díaz Pérez (ESP)
Referee Observer: Konrad Plautz (AUT)

Arsenal – AC Milan
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Mathias Klasenius (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Wärnmark (SWE)
Additional AR 1: Andreas Ekberg (SWE)
Additional AR 2: Stefan Johannesson (SWE)
Fourth Official: Mehmet Culum (SWE)
Referee Observer: Miroslav Tulinger (CZE)

FC Salzburg – Borussia Dortmund
Referee: Benoît Bastien (FRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Hicham Zakrani (FRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Frédéric Haquette (FRA)
Additional AR 1: Benoît Millot (FRA)
Additional AR 2: Nicolas Rainville (FRA)
Fourth Official: Julien Pacelli (FRA)
Referee Observer: Rune Pedersen (NOR)

Olympique Lyonnais – CSKA Moskva
Referee: Robert Madden (SCO)
Assistant Referee 1: David McGeachie (SCO)
Assistant Referee 2: Alastair Mather (SCO)
Additional AR 1: Andrew Dallas (SCO)
Additional AR 2: Donald Robertson (SCO)
Fourth Official: Alan Mulvanny (SCO)
Referee Observer: Vítor Melo Pereira (POR)