How the evolving referee scandal in Germany is causing the English media problems

By Tony Attwood

Oh this is so difficult for the British media.  

With the commentary that the refereeing of the Manchester City game against Arsenal was not all that it might have been, they went as far as they dared without having their licences from the PL revoked.   Now they have scuttled away from the story and are desperately trying to find something else to write about.

The Telegraph for example has “Five strange things that happened in Arsenal’s away Man City win that have never been seen again” – a historic analysis of Arsenal’s tactics.  Interesting, but a long way away from the issue of referees.  

And what makes this so tough for the media is that in Europe all hell is breaking loose over the refereeing issue.

The story comes from Germany, and you may recall that yesterday I covered the whole German refereeing situation in detail.

But today it just got a lot bigger, as the headlines below show…

  • Hellmut Krug is no longer responsible for the implementation of video evidence at the German Football Association (DFB). The DFB deposed him as head of the project.
  • Krug is accused of influencing the decisions of the video umpire.

Those are translated from Süddeutsche Zeitung – the newspaper that has also just broken the Paradise Papers scandal – the one showing that Lewis Hamilton flew his private jet to the Isle of Man to get the VAT back, that Apple slips a lot of its profits through Jersey and the Queen seems to have investments placed via tax havens in the Caribbean.

And please don’t be misled into thinking this is a little local difficulty in Germany.  In Switzerland it is making the headlines too.   The paper 24 Heures is running the headline

Football: the head of video assistance is sacked
Hellmut Krug, the boss of the control center responsible for overseeing the video assistance to arbitration (VAR) trial this season in Germany, was dismissed Monday.

It is in fact the big news across Europe – a scandal involving refereeing in Germany and the tampering with video evidence, and the whole video system.  And in England… not a word because the one or two media outlets that mentioned the awful refereeing in the Arsenal game at the weekend have been told in no uncertain terms, “no more about referees thank you very much.”

But the news keeps coming out of Germany.  The DFB has now suddenly stated that that Krug and the other supervisors “will no longer have direct communication with the video assistants during the games”.  Krug will however continue to be involved in the overall project, concentrating on content analysis and technical documentation and, as before, providing financial reporting to the international IFAB board.

Krug himself has refused to comment.  

There was a whole stream of allegations at the weekend over the way the video ref system was used in the game between VfL Wolfsburg and  Schalke 04 with the allegation that twice the decision of the video assistant was interfered with for the benefit of Schalke from whose city Gelsenkirchen the former Fifa referee comes. Krug and the video assistant on the day, Marco Fritz, rejected this, however.  But we might remember that Krug recently lost his place in the DFB Referees’ Elite Committee  after referee Manuel Gräfe had made serious allegations against him and his colleague Herbert Fandel.

In addition, the DFB has stated that there are problems and ambiguities in the implementation of video evidence in relation to when the video assistant can intervene.

The DFB and DFL have clearly stated that “this must be as per the original definition of the project, which is based on international standards.” Accordingly, “the video umpire should take corrective action only if clear mistakes are made.”

A letter from the referee leadership to the Bundesliga clubs, which has recently been made public and in which an alternative approach was put forward, is now being firmly rejected.  

DFB Vice-President Ronny Zimmermann admits: “In recent weeks, there has been confusion over the role and purpose of the project, so it is important to set a clear line in the light of the project so far and to communicate it to all involved in a timely manner.”

So what can the poor English media do?  Ignore all this as just funny foreigners getting themselves in a muddle – perhaps along with the sideline that you can’t trust foreigners anyway… they can do and that is what they are doing for the moment.

Because the big problem is, if they start reporting this, and it becomes clear that there are some big things very much amiss in German refereeing, that opens up one simple question.  If this can happen in Germany where refereeing is (compared to England fairly open) what on earth is going on in the Premier League where refereeing is run by a utterly secretive organisation with PGMO which goes around claiming that 98% of all refereeing decisions are correct, and that no criticism of referees should be published in or mention on, the licensed media?

It makes one ponder.

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23 Replies to “How the evolving referee scandal in Germany is causing the English media problems”

  1. I look forward to the day that the papers / media scream in their headlines , ” Head of PIGMOB gets kicked out !” .

    I have a good feeling about this.

  2. No Tony this could never happen in England. With a person like Mike Riley in charge (of match 50 and beyond) there is never a chance a ref would expose bias. Turns off the sarcastic mode

  3. Hey be fair! YOu’re being critical over people and organisations that choose to pay money to the likes of Barton whilst ignoring the many many people who have something of interest to say on the footy (think of the FA chosing the corrupt match fixer Don Revie, Henry Winters best chumly warner, over Brian Clough and you’re getting there)and don’t have a dodgy record down the bookies (did i mention the Don?). Not forgetting the other stuff. Man of the people? Or a selction from a bunch of *people* who see us all as the great unwashed? The understanding Dear Readers, it’s all yours!

    *Worth re-watching Mike Bassett again before coming to your conclusions – Bassett is the ‘hero of the story, not hard to work out who the ‘villan’ is and unravel some of threads laid by the author in that story or even in the Damned Utd – these are the kind of observations that writers can make but not desperate hack dwarves.

  4. I think VAR starts in the round after the next round of the FA cup, but will not involve PGMOL at this time. Perhaps they’ll take on board any of the German etc issues. Isn’t this why its introduction to the UK has been delayed?

  5. They’ve been using VARs in the hockey for a decade? Longer?

    Tens of thousands of people in London, England, Uk saw live sport with VARs in open play during the Olympic Hockey tournament five years ago. No bungles, no officials complaining about other officials, just a ref miked up so the crowd and tv audience could isten in on: Everything.

    Hockey is a harder game to officate then Association Football – faster, smaller ball, large sticks getting in the way/line of sight but they seem to manage ok. Somehow. On a miniscule bidget. At international and now club (!!!!) level. Without any controversy.

    East Grinstead. Massive crowd. Huge budget. Yes it’s easy to understand how & why they’ve been using VARs successfully in hockey for over a decade (because the ref in this case is from belgium 🙂 ).

    There is no ratinal or reasonable explanantion that anybody could supply in order to explain the lack of successful assistance (a bug free model or system) for the officials in assoication football these past three decades. In fact the lack of these proven and tested systems that should not be so complicated to adapt (they use hawkeye on LBW in the cricket!) from similar or sister sports in the most lucrative sport on the planet is simply weird.

    Whatever will they think of next!

  6. <

    To clarify, just in case anyone is confused:

    You get a far higher standard of offciating when you pop down to watch the Hockey in East Grinstead municipal park (ok, they might have been using a proper pitch/quasi stadium type thing) then you do when you tune in to watch the Champions League or spend seventy squid to watch the Greatest League in the World (TradeMark Scudamore & Risdale Inc.)

  7. Correction above. Beeston HC were the Home team, East Grinstead were Away.

    My apologies! To be safe I’m going to assume that is a national league match and a not a local or lower league match. That would be embaressing for the Football Wonga Wallahs, if it wasn’t already…;)

    As they say in the Tennis (now with the aid of VARs):

    Game, Set & Match.

  8. So, whatever you think of him, Alisher Usmanov has become part of a BBC investigation into the ownership of Everton. I hope that particular public corporation has it’s facts right, because if not, I can see a quite hefty libel claim coming.

    It seems the so called powers in this country will do ANYTHING except hold an investigation into PGMOL.

    Perhaps this latest escapade by the BBC will inadvertently lead to the facilitation of that?

  9. Gord
    I don’t trust these type of surveys (particularly after Scotland has just been eliminated from the World Cup) because the questions are probably loaded to favour the expected negative outcome, with questions like ‘ do you think Scottish fitba is run by a load of incompetant, lying scumbag parasites etc.’
    There’s no doubt that there are many unhappy Scottish football fans right now, but ‘less honest than FIFA & UEFA?’ That’s a bit of a stretch.
    If England do OK at the World Cup they’ll be even more open to suggestion of dishonesty etc.

  10. finsbury
    You forgot to mention that in North American hockey in addition to VAR they have 2 referees! For only 10 skaters on a small ice surface. I’ve mentioned this idea before but have never gotten any traction. I wouldn’t want VAR for too many decisions, slows down the game too much. But 2 refs? Still thinks it’s a viable solution. Of course, 2 PGMO crooks could both miss the call, lol.

  11. Also, as our skills players leave maybe they mention they’re going to City, United, wherever, to get a fair shake from the referees and perhaps add a few years to their careers.

  12. Let’s say the executive of the EPL finally grow a pair of
    Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeneeeeeeeeeeey’s and decide to do something about PGMO. Firing 😈 Mike Riley is easy, finding a replacement isn’t. In my opinion, _ALL_ of the former PGMO people have sided with PGMO too many times and hence are no longer a consideration. If you have to use an official of some kind, I would look at some other sport (rugby?). I think an academic might work, at least in interim. They might at least understand the bias concerns.

    Next up, by and large new referees have come from the EFL. Is the environment of the EFL conducive to recruiting new referees? If not from the EFL, from where? I think it is highly likely that there are former football officials who emigrated to England, who would never be considered to referee in England (damn foreigners). But in a Brexit world, would people stand for these foreigners taking “English jobs”?

    I count 18 Select Group Referees, of which 6 are FIFA accredited. Two of that 18 are over 50 and 2 are very close to 50. I think Walter and Andrew would like at least 5 more (independent of my observation that some people are near/over 50). I would say that instead of recruiting another 5 with immediate effect, that another 10 be recruited.

    The EFL also has a Select Group of referees, which also numbers 18. If 18 insufficient for the EPL, it surely isn’t sufficient for the EFL. Presumably this Select Group 2 is the one from which PGMO Select Group is chosen from. I would say that this Select Group 2 needs to double in size.

    In any event, whether one is talking PGMO Select Group or EFL Select Group 2, a substantial portion of both groups are _NOT_ in the center or being fourth official on any given gameday for the competitions those two groups of referees are meant to officiate. We want all of these officials, competing for the right to do games. Performance to be the criteria, and Walter likes overall accuracy and important decision bias. To help with the need for competition, I think the salaries (per game) of each referee should be increased. Hence, to miss out a gameday due to poor performance has a larger “hit”.

    State Aid United now have Moyes as a manager. They have 9 points from 11 games. Here’s hoping that at 22 games, they have a total of 17 or less.

    I think I seen a blurb about fat Sam moving to Everton. Everton have 11 points from 11 games. If fat Sam does move to Everton, I would hope that at 22 games, that they have less than 22 points.

    I don’t think managers like Moyes or fat Sam are the answer for England. And it is too darned bad that either are being considered or selected.

  13. re my 3.33pm post, it looks as though it’s after the third round in 2018 and not as I thought this season. so over a year to wait.

  14. Goonersince72

    Ice hockey is even quicker across the pitch then field hockey! Tw officials might be essential…, it’s not an easy job and these officials deserve the support save in the most popular / lucrative sport on the planet.

    Wait hang on. England Germany friendly to mess up the use of VARs? Does someone not like these articles on Untold?

    The story about the German refs interfering with VARs were eminently and easily predictable. Why? Because if IFAB (our sweet FA) and Fick FUFA were truly interested in using VARs we’d already have it.
    it’d already be in use down at the MK Dons Etc essentially using exactly the same set up in use in the Hockey. If the lucrative sport or hockey can have VARs at East Grinstead stadia sorry I mean in the giant Estadio Marcana do Beeston FC (near Nottingham I think) then the relatively wealthy association football clubs in the second and third tier could easily manage.

    But here we are. And these clowns are still bumbling around with trials in friendlies?

    You can dress up a turd with bells and whistles, but unfortunately it’s still going to stink.

  15. Oh just read in a Belgian newspaper that there is an investigation in Greek football about match fixing. And…some refs are also under suspicion of matchfixing….

  16. “not a word because the one or two media outlets that mentioned the awful refereeing in the Arsenal game at the weekend have been told in no uncertain terms, “no more about referees thank you very much.”” Considering this website is so big on evidence, can I ask where the proof of this happening is? I believe that refereeing in the PL is corrupt and that the media is utterly compliant, but you can’t just say stuff like that without a shred of evidence.

  17. What really concerns me and is THE issue here is the corruption and manipulation of VAR and the video assistants. If the PIGMOB or another football corrupt group decide that VAR will be under their control(directly or clandestinely) and the video referees answer to them, then one can bet that VAR will actually be confirmation bias using a new medium.
    We have seen that the PIGMOB is secretive, demands absolute silence from its employees, is a sacrosanct organization that nobody ,media or otherwise can question, has the sweet FA in their hip pocket and obliges the sweet FA to fine or punish any manager or team official who complains about the referees, justified or not! FIFA will likewise be invisible or worse, delay the implementation of VAR until its manipulation devices are firmly in place!
    The political powers mouth the proper laments about Football but NEVER actually do anything, the supporters feel powerless and the Clubs look after their own interests well before the game’s!

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