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.

UEFA U-17 Euro 2018 – Semi-finals

17 May 2018

England – Netherlands
Referee: Horațiu Feșnic (ROU, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Robert Steinacher (AUT)
Assistant Referee 2: Vlad Lifciu (MDA)
Fourth Official: Tihomir Pejin (CRO)
Referee Observer: Vlado Svilokos (CRO)

Italy – Belgium
Referee: Vilhjalmur Thorarinsson (ISL)
Assistant Referee 1: Péter Kóbor (HUN)
Assistant Referee 2: Georgi Doynov (BUL)
Fourth Official: Robert Harvey (IRL)
Referee Observer: Marc Batta (FRA)

CFU Club Championship Final 2018: Aguilar (SLV)

13 May 2018

Atletico Pantoja – Arnett Gardens
Referee: Joel Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Zumba (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Corey Rockwell (USA)
Fourth Official: Jair Marrufo (USA)