Referees take flak for high-stakes errors | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 21.06.2012
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Referees take flak for high-stakes errors

Referees at the Euro 2012 tournament have come under fire. Critics say the addition of two extra officials per match has not paid off.

For the first time at a senior international tournament, UEFA are employing two additional assistant referees - one at each goal-line - to assist head referees near the goal at the Euro 2012. The idea was that they could devote all their attention to the crucial goal-line action.

The wisdom of this decision is being questioned since a goal by Marko Devic for Ukraine was not given against England, although television replays showed that it had crossed the line.

This led to the Ukraine exiting the tournament on Tuesday, failing to reach the last eight. It's not just teams heading home early from Euro 2012, UEFA has been ruthless with its match officials.

Referee Wolfgang Stark (R) of Germany gestures to Spain's Xavi Hernandez during their Group C Euro 2012 soccer match against Croatia

Wolfgang Stark paid for his mistake against Croatia

Refs sent for early baths

The European football authority's chief refereeing officer, Pierluigi Collina, admitted the following day that referee Victor Kassai had made a wrong decision and indicated this had influenced the decision not to keep Kassai on for the rest of the tournament.

Also going home after the group stage are Carlos Velasco Carballo of Spain, who refereed the tournament's opening game between Poland and Greece, and Wolfgang Stark of Germany, who made a controversial decision while refereeing the Croatia-Spain group match.

Most commentators argued that Stark had failed to award at least one penalty to the Croats; doing so might have saved that team from elimination in the group phase.

Stark, who was a referee at the 2010 World Cup, is no stranger to officiating controversies.

According to German sports magazine Kicker, in a player's poll taken after the first half of this year's Bundesliga season, Stark was voted the league's worst referee.

Video evidence as the next step?

Now football experts are renewing their call for more technology to help with decision making.

Greece's Giorgos Karagounis reacts angrily to a refereeing decision

The stakes are high, and players will make their frustrations known

FIFA president Sepp Blatter wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: "After last night's match, goal-line technology is no longer an alternative but a necessity."

Blatter was a strong opponent of goal-line technology in the past but changed his mind at the 2010 World Cup when an England goal was not given because the officials didn't see the ball cross the line.

World governing body FIFA has been trialling two different systems to help officials know whether a ball has crossed the line.

England's friendly against Belgium last month was one of the test matches for HawkEye, the system used in tennis. A similar system called GoalRef has also been trialled in two Danish league matches.

By the time the World Cup kicks off in Brazil, the much maligned refs may have cameras to help their officiating teams. It might also mean that a football game no longer requires six active officials.

rg/msh (Reuters, dpa)