Monday 17th May 2021
“Collina’s heirs” pay their respects
Relegation battle is clearly the referees’
By Alex Feuerherdt
The referees are also challenged in the fight to stay up, and they do very well at the games in Augsburg and Berlin. In tricky situations they come to the right decisions as a team, and the VAR is sometimes tried to ensure acceptance. In the end, nobody complains about the referees.
That the game between the table fourteenth FC Augsburg and placed one rank lower SV Werder Bremen (2: 0) would not be a footballing delicacy, was foreseeable in view of the relegation problems of both clubs. Rather, we had to reckon with struggle and cramp, with hectic and emotionality. Not an easy task for referee Robert Schröder, to whom the sports management of the Bundesliga referees entrusted the supervision of this important encounter after many strong performances recently. To anticipate: the 35-year-old referee from SG Blaues Wunder Hannover did a really good job in a really difficult game together with his team.
After only 13 minutes he was forced to take massive action when the paths of Augsburg’s Ruben Vargas and Bremen’s Theodor Gebre Selassie crossed in midfield, far from the ball. There was a slight check from Gebre Selassie, which Vargas acknowledged by accidentally swinging his right leg and trying to kick his opponent in the legs with full force, but just missed. While Schröder whistled with a short delay, the Bremer complained loudly, coach Florian Kohfeldt repeatedly pointed wildly gesticulating at Vargas.
It can be assumed that the referee followed the ball and therefore did not even notice the duel, but received the crucial information from one of his assistants or the fourth official. With some delay he showed the Augsburg man the red card, and rightly so. Because even the attempt to assault is punishable and is in principle punished in the same way as its completion – especially if the opponent is only missed by a lucky chance like here – Schröder had no choice but to be expelled from the field early.
Both field references in Augsburg are absolutely correct
He even secured the decision by going to the monitor on the sidelines; here there was certainly no intervention by the video assistant due to a wrong decision, but rather a tactical review to bring the vehement protests of the Augsburgers to a standstill. This type of review should only be available in justified exceptional cases – but the decimation of a team after less than a quarter of an hour in a basement duel on matchday 33 is without question one of these exceptions. The very clear body language of the referee after returning to the field gave the red card further emphasis.
Shortly after the break, Werder negotiated a suspension when Christian Groß, who had already been warned, brought Florian Niederlechner from Augsburg to the ground with a rough kick on the knee and was then rightly sent off with yellow and red. Robert Schröder was also consistent here. It was tricky for him in several penalty area situations, with both the home side and the guests each calling for a penalty in vain.
The scenes were similar in that there was a rather light contact on the opponent’s foot or shin, caused by a fleeting, low-intensity kick. Only after 20 minutes the Bremen Niclas Füllkrug was affected, then in the 65th minute Marco Richter from Augsburg, to whom the referee even showed the yellow card because he assessed his somewhat theatrical fall as a swallow. The pictures did not reveal that, but the VAR would only have intervened in both situations if the decision not to give a penalty was clearly wrong in its view. That he didn’t was absolutely correct.
There is a penalty only when the facts are clear
Shortly before the end of regular time, there was finally a penalty whistle when Milot Rashica brought down André Hahn from Augsburg with a clear kick to the shin in his own penalty area. This contact was of a different quality than in the other two scenes and therefore clearly worthy of punishment. The gradation in the duel evaluation by Robert Schröder was easy to understand and was also accepted by the teams. There was a penalty only when the facts were really clear.
It was also correct by the referee not to decide on a penalty for FC Augsburg in the 38th minute after Davie Selke’s handball in the Bremen penalty area, but to punish a previous offside offense by the hosts: Jeffrey Gouweleeuw was in an offside position with a cross Both hands of Theodor Gebre Selassie prevented from reaching the approaching ball. This gave André Hahn possession of the ball, whose cross finally sent Selke head and hand out of the goal. But because the criminal offside had preceded the handball and the attentive assistant had reported it, the referee did not even have to worry about whether a penalty would be considered.
The referee also shows a good sense of proportion in Berlin
Robert Schröder, together with his assistants, was right in all game-relevant situations and made his decisions with recognizable conviction. Even the losers from Bremen did not dwell with the referee after the final whistle. He had put in another strong performance – and that in a very demanding game.
In the other direct encounter between two relegation candidates, the referee was not an issue either: Deniz Aytekin led the match between Hertha BSC and the 1. FC Cologne (0: 0) confident as usual. He even met the supposed culmination point shortly before the end with a sense of proportion and skill: When Cologne’s Ellyes Skhiri fell in a duel with Jonas Michelbrink in the Berlin penalty area, Aytekin let go, which was perfectly appropriate given the minor contact on Skhiri’s right leg. Nevertheless, the referee took a quick look at the scene on the monitor – here, too, it was clearly a tactical review. This increased the acceptance for this decision and prevented protests. The referees did a lot right on this penultimate matchday of the season.