June 22, 2012
Blown call puts fifth official on hot seat
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
GDANSK - For a man who isn't supposed to be noticed, the fifth official has been getting a lot of press at this Euro 2012 tournament -- and not very much nice press.
The fifth official is the one who stands at the goal-line hovering around the bottom of the 18-yard box.
He has been placed there by UEFA to help the referee see whether a ball goes in or doesn't.
The reason for the sudden dance in the spotlight for the fifth official was a blown call when Ukraine had a perfectly good goal not confirmed in a loss to England. The ball crossed the line but the fifth official didn't see it.
Ukraine eventually was eliminated from Euro 2012.
It began a slew of criticism, especially since most people believed that the fifth official was there only for the purpose of verifying a goal or a non-goal.
That's not the case.
Pierluigi Collina, the head of officials for UEFA, said this week the fifth official does much more than merely look for goals. He helps the referee call fouls, penalties, offside and any other incident that they become aware of. He is in contact with the referee by microphone and earbuds.
Part of the problem with the fans is they have no idea when the fifth referee has influenced a decision.
Collina said that is by design.
"One of the rules set by the International Football Association Board is that they cannot make any gesture," Collina said. "The International Football Association Board has said they cannot. Personally, I wish they could."