FROM THE MIDDLE: South American ref swap at Euro 2020

Assistant referee or Lineman of football or soccer holding flag

France and Switzerland players were perhaps surprised to find that the referee for their knock out match at EURO 2020, was Argentine referee, Fernando Rapallini, along with two countrymen as his assistant referees.

They had earlier been in charge of the Croatia v Scotland game. The laws of the game are, of course, the same throughout the world and this was a deliberate swap of referees by UEFA with Commebol, the South American Football Confederation.

A Spanish referee, Jesus Gril Manzano, and two assistant referees are taking part in the Copa America 2021, their equivalent competition.

They have already officiated at Chile against Bolivia, Ecuador v Peru and a quarter final, Uruguay v Colombia.

Fernando Rapallini was excellent at the most exciting game in the tournament so far.

France comfortably led by three goals to one, but were shaken by two late goals from Switzerland.

And after a goalless extra time, there was more drama with the kicks from the penalty mark.

Switzerland already had scored five goals and France had four. It all depended on one
of France’s younger player to level the score. Unfortunately for France, many people’s favourite to win the competition, his kick was saved and they were out of it.

The Swiss players hesitated before finally celebrating their win, waiting to see if their goalkeeper’s movement in making the save, would be cleared by VAR. There have been a number of changes in the laws for these kicks in recent years.

I have complained in my columns for many years, that television and radio commentators don’t keep up with the changes in the laws.

This was the case locally for Ady Williams, former Reading FC captain, now with BBC Radio Berkshire, who was asked what the laws were.

He said that the goalkeeper must keep one foot on the goal line. That is not accurate.

The law, changed in 2019, now says, on, or level, with the goal line, which means it can be in the air providing it is above the line.

Only a small point but enough to get a team into the quarter finals.

By Dick Sawdon Smith

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