It’s Sunday, so that means it’s time for me to make all your dreams come true. Or answer your refereeing questions. Either way.
1.) Why were five minutes added to the Champions League Final?
Still lots of questions about why Bjorn Kuipers added five minutes onto Real Madrid v. Atletico Madrid. I did an exhaustive review here.
2.) Is Viktor Kassai refereeing in this World Cup?
I’m afraid not.
Despite being one of the top three to five referees in the world the past few years, Kassai missed out on the World Cup. it was something of a surprise, to be honest. He did, however, have some issues in the past couple of years. Specifically, a rough 2012 Euro performance and consistency issues with his assistant referees are rumored to have cost him.
Wall Street Journal did a piece on him earlier in the year, which I responded to here.
It’s a shame that Kassai won’t be in Brazil, because in addition to being a fine referee, he seems like a great guy. One of my favorite readers, young referee Miniwhistler, has been a huge fan of Kassai’s for years. On their recent trip to Wembley, he and his team made an effort to meet with this young man and his mom, and give him tips and encouragement in chasing his refereeing dream. I just love this kid to death, so I have to say that Kassai jumped way up in my estimation.
You can read more about it on Miniwhistler’s blog.
3.) Will Mark Clattenburg referee in the World Cup in 2018?
It doesn’t take hanging out here on Play the Advantage long to figure out that I have a bit of a soft spot for ol’ Clatts. Personally, I think he’s the best English referee in the game right now, and he’s probably in the top ten in the World.
But the World Cup is determined over a two-year period, and Clatts’ luck was such that – even though he is definitely peaking – he wasn’t quite able to pip Howard Webb for the World Cup spot announced in January.
If that same decision was made in May, I think it would have been a different call.
So, what about 2018? He definitely is going to be The Man in English football when Howard Webb retires, so he’d be first in line for England’s spot.
But a lot can happen in four years.
There’s always the risk of a young hotshot shooting up the ranks and displacing him, like Felix Brych did in Germany, but the closest candidate would probably be Michael Oliver, and he has a long way to go.
There’s also no guarantee that England will have a spot (see France and Stephane Lannoy).
There’s also his age: He’ll have just turned 43 in the next World Cup, and while under the 45 year cutoff, it’s still on the high side. Now, granted, Clatts is crazy fit – one of the fittest and fastest referees I’ve seen. But to hold on to that fitness at 43 is going to be tough.
Both Nicola Rizzoli of Italy and Howard Webb are 42; Webb is clearly showing signs of age. Rizzoli seems fine, but he’s also not the biggest of dudes. And while he’s not huge compared to Webb, I get the impression Clatts isn’t a little guy, either. So, age and wear and tear on his body are factors.
There’s also the question of desire.
To make the World Cup, he’d have to referee at the highest levels until then. That would mean four more years of week in and week out, sometimes as many as three matches per week. Four more years of travel and the impact that it has on his body and his personal life. Four more years of getting ripped to shreds in the press and on Twitter, and called every name under the sun for trying to do his job.
Will he be willing to do that?
I have no idea; I don’t know the guy. I do think he seems hugely ambitious, and this is clearly his passion. And if he’s survived what he’s gone through so far, he can probably hold up.
For my part, I think – barring any unforeseen injury or disaster – we will see Clatts at the 2018 World Cup.
I definitely will be rooting for him…
4.) Not a referee question, but who do you support in the World Cup?
Allez la Suisse (Switzerland)!!
*That’s Gokhan Inler. He’s not really angry; that’s just his face.