Ask Jenna

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.

Still have questions? Try Ask Jenna, Parts the First and Second.

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.

So. Cute.

So. Cute.

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…


Clatts is not amused.


4.) Not a referee question, but who do you support in the World Cup?
Allez la Suisse (Switzerland)!!


The Swiss are also not amused.*


*That’s Gokhan Inler. He’s not really angry; that’s just his face.


  • 2 of my top 3 refs in one post Jenna!

    Viktor is just awesome and it’s very wrong he is not at the world cup because the world cup will be a poorer tournament for it! I still can’t believe I met him or how long he spent with me. He, Gabor, Gyorgy and Mihaly were just ace and I can’t wait until next year when I am going out to Hungary to train with them. Just epic. Gabor has retired from International football and Vencel Toth is taking over his place in Viktor’s team. He started working with Viktor for a few games last season in the Champions League so maybe FIFA thought that because his assistants were changing they wouldn’t be ready as a team. Viktor said that there are 18 elite teams in UEFA so some have to lose out and this time he was one who lost out. He is still proud of his career and will continue to work hard to try and get one of the places for Euro’s 2016. I am proud of him too and think he is the very best referee in the world.

    Mark is one of my mentors. He works really hard and is totally committed. You’re right he’s not little, he’s about 6’1 or 2. He’s not as tall as Viktor or Howard but he’s still tall. He’s very slim though, solid muscle and mega fit. He’s also a really nice man, gives great hugs and is a brilliant coach. There are rumours that Howard is going to retire after the world cup. One of his AR’s Canny retires this year because he turns 45 so Howard might take it as the time for him to step down as well. I think Mark will go to the Euro’s 2016 with Viktor and then they will both go the World Cup in 2018 before Michael Oliver takes over from Mark and Istvan Vad takes over from Viktor. I’m really proud of Mark as well, he’s had the best season of his career and just keeps getting better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I actually didn’t think Clatts was that tall.

      It’s so good to hear your personal perspective on these guys. Especially when people start talking about what a show pony Mark is, I just point them to you. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Annoys me when people say that about him. He gave me a training session the night before I refereed my first school game just to make sure I had the confidence to go out and do it & was emailing Mum while I was on the pitch to see how I was getting on. That’s not an arrogant man who would do that. He also coaches youth football near his home. Mum said Mark is 6′ same as Oli, Andre is 6’1 or 2, Howard is 6’4 and Viktor is 6’3. Mum only just about reaches Viktor’s shoulder and I think he bent down for her to do that!! 😉


        • I’ve seen enough interviews with him to know he’s no show pony. 😉 However he is on the pitch, you don’t immediately get that shy and soft spoken if you’re all full of yourself…


  • Hi. First of all, great site.

    As for Kassai, I personally think he can count himself very unlucky to be missing out on this summer’s spectacle. At Euro 2012, I thought he was the best referee in the Group Stages. A really stellar performance in the game between Spain and Italy. I really thought he was nailed down for the final. Unfortunately for him, his assistants had an absolute shocker in his quarter-final assignment. He’s been unlucky that his assistants have been incompetent at times. Bayern Munich – Barcelona springs to mind…

    I also completely disagree with individuals who believe Clatts should have been selected over Webb. Yes, Webb is having a
    disappointing domestic season, however, you cannot deny Webb deserves his selection. To put it simply Clatts hasn’t got the international experience. Webb is a seasoned performer. He’s been their and done it. He had an absolute stellar 18-24 months. Only Kuipers comes close IMHO. Brilliantly officiated some of the biggest games. Real Madrid – BVB, Confederations Cup, Juventus – Real Madrid, play-off, Atletico – Barcelona and Real Madrid – Bayern Munich to name but a few. Clatts just hasn’t got these high-profile appointments. Webb is a worthy selection IMO. Also, as Webb officiates in the biggest and most watched league in the world, he will be in the spot-light more often then let’s say, Eriksson who operates in Sweden. I’m sure referees who officiate in lesser known leagues make a few mistakes. They just aren’t scrutnised as much as Webb. Clatts will get his chance, though. I expect to seem him represent England in Euro 2016 and WC 2018.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s my belief that Viktor just barely didn’t make it, and it was probably those AR performances that were the difference. That said, I’ve seen Svein Oddvar Moen referee and – while I’m sure he’s a very nice person – it’s baffling to me that he was chosen as the alternate instead of someone like Viktor. Could be where they are on their career paths or some geopolitical maneuvering, but no way Moen is better than Kassai.

      As for Webb/Clatts, I agree with you and have pointed out on occasion that Webb’s been brilliant internationally, if uninspiring domestically. That said, Clatts has hit every international appointment he’s been given out of the park (to mix metaphors) and you have to wonder where he’d be if he weren’t perpetually in Webb’s shadow. That said, Mark is where he is…


      • I think, and I stress that it’s just an assumption, that Moen was selected so they do not “insult” a former WC semi-final referee by appointing him as a reserve.

        Moen is definitely regarded as a “talent”, big things are expected of him. You just have to look at his appointments. Semi -final at the U-17 WC and an intercontinental WC playoff last November just confirms the trust FIFA have in him. And with rumours circulating of Eriksson’s impending retirement, Moen could be flying the flag for Scandinavia. Following the footsteps of some greats: Frisk, Bo Larsen, Nielsen, Fröjdfeldt, Hauge etc.


        Liked by 1 person

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