World Cup 2022: Markus Merk attacks World Cup referee – praise for VAR

Former German top referee
Markus Merk attacks the World Cup referee – but praises the unloved VAR

World Cup 2022, quarter-finals in the Al-Bait Stadium: France’s Antoine Griezmann (left), referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio (centre) from Brazil and England’s Harry Kane (right).

© Robert Michael / DPA

The referees are increasingly being criticized at the World Cup. The former Fifa and Bundesliga referee Markus Merk judges differently – and sees the issue of overtime as not mature.

Former World Cup referee Markus Merk assesses the performance of the referees in Qatar as “good to satisfactory”, but also expresses clear criticism. “The performance of the Brazilian referee in England against France did not open up to me – even if I am open to other mentalities and game interpretations. Clear offenses were not punished, such as the foul before France made it 1-0,” said the 60-year-old Kaiserslautern of the German Press Agency. The English also grumbled about Wilson Sampaio’s refereeing in France’s 2-1 victory. In the knockout games, the pressure on the referees increased, Merk said: “Some referees lacked experience and acceptance here – overall with shortcomings and unequal, different duel assessments.”

World Cup 2022: Praise for VAR pace

The former Fifa referee, who was on duty at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, found “the implementation of the VAR’s speed in terms of speed, especially in the area of ​​offside decisions,” to be beneficial. Merk is ambivalent about the longer stoppage times announced by Fifa chief referee Pierluigi Collina before the tournament. “Even if I advocate appropriate injury time, the implementation was not always comprehensible. Then we should think about net playing time right away,” said the long-standing Bundesliga referee. At the same time he emphasized: “I hope that we don’t start a fundamental debate in the Bundesliga in the middle of the season.”

Merk also makes players responsible

What is striking for Merk is that teams like Portugal, which have not achieved their goals, “look for the referees as an alibi”. Merk condemned the tumult in the wild quarter-final duel between Argentina and the Netherlands, which Lionel Messi and Co. won on penalties. The behavior of the teams and officials was bad: “A mistake in fair play, where you can only pity a referee.” The performance of the only German World Cup referee Daniel Siebert, who officiated the difficult group game Uruguay against Ghana, sees Merk quite positively. In his first game, Siebert was “unobtrusive and therefore good” and would have recommended himself for a second game. The Berliner is no longer one of the remaining referees in Qatar.


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