UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine

Referee Review

Damir Skomina (Slovenia) 

By Adam Higgins

Chief Football Editor 

Age-  35         FIFA Referee since-  2003         Promoted to the Elite List-  2009        Slovenian Super League referee since 2001

Season 2011-12:      Matches-  28        Yellow cards-  128          Red cards-  6          Penalties-  7

Best game of the season:  26th April 2012       UEFA Europa League Semi-Final 2nd leg        Valencia 0-1 Atletico Madrid
                                    Venue: Mestalla Stadium (Spain)

Our average rating from Euro 2012:  25/30 (8.33/10)

Euro 2012 statistics-   Matches-  3        Yellow cards-  9         Red cards-  0         Penalties-  1       Average cards per game-  3

Best game of the tournament:  Friday 15th June 2012           Group D Game Two           Sweden 2-3 England

                                          Olympic Stadium, Kiev (Ukraine)

Slovenian Damir Skomina's remarkable rise to prominence in refereeing tells a story of aspiration, commitment and, above all, hard work. His journey in international officiating has taken him from games in the obscure countries of Macedonia and Belarus to the 2008 Olympic Games and last season's Champions League quarter-final second leg between Chelsea and Benfica followed swiftly by the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine- his first international tournament as a referee having been a fourth official in the Euro 2008 tournament in Austria and Switzerland. To date, he is the only Slovenian ever to be entrusted with officiating games at the highest international level. 35-year old Skomina has long been touted as one of the most promising European officials and showed his bst adding another impeccable performance to his spotless record on the big stage this summer. He certainly understands the importance of discipline and acting without hesitancy, as evidenced by his behaviour on the pitch. The Slovenian is known for his confident and no-nonsense approach, which has earned him plenty of plaudits. The Koper native, who started his refereeing career at just 16, is known for his cool head and strict behaviour. Skomina rarely misses incidents on the pitch and always acts by the book, handing out cards whenever they are merited. The Slovenian may often be accused of disrupting the rhythm of the game by awarding fouls, but his calls are rarely groundless. Skomina has zero tolerance towards players and coaches who dispute his decisions while his ability to handle pressure from players and to stamp his authority is one of the reasons why he is so highly-rated. Last season saw him take charge of many important games both in Europe and domestically. Having already taken charge of three cup finals in his native Slovenia, Skomina has had big-match experience and he has also had criticism aimed at him. The 35-year old was criticised by Arsene Wenger after Arsenal were eliminated by AC Milan in the Champions League last 16 despite a 3-0 win at the Emirates in February. The Frenchman said after the match that he "was not happy with the referee because he gave many free-kicks in the middle of the park." He took charge of three games at the tournament in total. His first came on the second day of the tournament as Holland started their Euro 2012 campaign in Group B against the less-fancied Denmark in Kharkiv with many tipping the Netherlands to go all the way to the final like in South Africa. All eyes weren't really on the referee but the full-time result as Morten Olsen's Danes came away with a precious and surprise 1-0 victory. It was a good display from the man in charge, who is normally the first port of call to place the blame when a result doesn't go your way however the performance of Skomina could not be faulted. Except one penalty shout in the dying stages of the match for Holland when Lars Jacobsen could have penalised for handling the ball however it wasn't clear whether or not it was intentional. His second game saw him oversee England's second match at the tournament in Group D in their must win game against Sweden in Kiev. His performance was fabulous and showed that he is more than capable of managing such big occasions. His signals were clear, he looked confident, expressing himself with great decorum while he stamped his authority down early on, in addition, didn't go over the top in terms of the card usage. As is always the case when managing a match involving England, the press are likely to scrutinise and analyse in major mistakes which can severely harm your reputation and despite it being not too difficult a match to preside over, Skomina didn't fall weak or foul of any bad media publicity throughout the tournament. At the end of the group stages, it was announced by UEFA that Skomina would be one of the eight referees kept on for the knock-out stages of Euro 2012. A short time later, he was appointed as man in the middle for the quarter-final clash between Germany and Greece at the PGE Arena in Gdansk on 22nd June. His card was shown only twice in the direction of players as he opted for common-sense while the lenient side of him prevailed in one of the biggest games of his short career so far understandably. His fitness wasn't an issue with him managing to get around the pitch with no problems whatsoever, he stayed in command at all times and didn't allow himself to become the centre of attention or the game be all about him. He quietly got on with the match well maintaining a high degree of calmness and assurance. In the closing minutes, he awarded Greece a penalty with Jerome Boateng harshly adjudged to have handled the ball. He went into the tournament keen to impress and demonstrate to everyone watching that at such a young age, he can handle the pressures which come with officiating international matches in such testing circumstances in competitions such as this and he certainly did that. It is a no-brainer that he is put near to the top of the pile in terms of the referees for selection at the upcoming 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.


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