Referee Mark Clattenburg quitting England for Saudi Arabia

English referee Mark Clattenburg. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Updated 17 February 2017
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Referee Mark Clattenburg quitting England for Saudi Arabia

LONDON: Mark Clattenburg, who refereed the top games in world soccer in 2016, suddenly quit the English Premier League on Thursday for a job in Saudi Arabia.
Clattenburg will replace Howard Webb as head of referees for the Saudis after the 2010 World Cup final referee was hired by Major League Soccer to lead the development of video technology for on-field officials.
Clattenburg, who first revealed his plans to leave England in a recent interview with The Associated Press, is set to combine refereeing games with his new off-field responsibilities in the Middle East.
“We decided to bring the best referee in the world,” Saudi Football Federation President Adel Ezzat said on Thursday. “His job is the evaluation of referees, but at the same time he will have some matches to referee, between three to four matches a month.”
Ezzat said the 41-year-old Clattenburg will take charge of the Champions League game between Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain next month, but it is unclear if he will remain on the UEFA and FIFA lists. He was in contention for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“At the moment FIFA is waiting for some more information about the future of Mark Clattenburg,” the global governing body told The AP.
Clattenburg, whose departure date from the Premier League is yet to be announced, recently made the highly unusually step of publicly stating his desire for a job abroad.
“Money has never been a driver as a referee,” Clattenburg told the AP in December. “It’s about the drive of doing something different, maybe helping the recruitment ... a bit like Howard Webb has done (in Saudi Arabia) where you are helping another country develop refereeing.”
Clattenburg refereed the finals of the European Championship, Champions League and FA Cup last year.
Professional Game Match Officials, the organization which provides and trains officials for the English leagues, said Clattenburg had been “setting standards for others to follow.”
“Mark is a talented referee, he has been a great asset to the English game, and hopefully an inspiration to those who want to get into refereeing at the grass roots of the game,” the PGMO said. “We understand this is an exciting opportunity for Mark as well as further underlining what high esteem English match officials are held throughout the world game.”
Clattenburg has been a FIFA referee since 2006 and was in charge of the Olympic men’s soccer final at the London Games in 2012.


‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

Updated 20 June 2018
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‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

  • A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
  • Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance

ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”