UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine

Referee Review

Jonas Eriksson (Sweden) 

By Adam Higgins

Chief Football Editor 

Age-  38         FIFA Referee since-  2002          Promoted to the Elite List-  2005         Swedish Allsvenskan referee since 2000

Season 2011-12:      Matches-  16        Yellow cards-  63          Red cards-  1          Penalties-  3

Best game of the season:  14th September 2011         UEFA Champions League Group Stages       Manchester City 1-1 Napoli
                                    Venue: Etihad Stadium (Manchester)

Our average rating from Euro 2012:  15/20 (7.5/10)

Euro 2012 statistics-   Matches-  2        Yellow cards-  9         Red cards-  0         Penalties-  0       Average cards per game- 4.5

Best game of the tournament:  Wednesday 13th June 2012      Group B Game Two       Holland 1-2 Germany

                                          Metalist Stadium (Kharkiv)

Despite having been a FIFA referee for the past ten years, Jonas Eriksson travelled to Poland and Ukraine this summer to officiate in his first major international tournament. The 38-year-old is not like any other referee. After selling his 15 per cent stake in Swedish media rights business IEC over five years ago, he became a multi-millionaire. However, despite his vast wealth, the Swede continues to officiate in his homeland as well as across the continent, insisting that he is spurred on by his love of the game and his favourite hobby. Eriksson is by no means a strict referee as red cards have been relatively rare in his career and he is not one who dishes out a high number of yellow cards, however, he has drummed up a significant amount of controversy during his time as a professional. Despite a number of controversies in top-flight football, the Swedish referee has been relatively consistent in performances in his nation’s top league, and he continues to officiate in the top competitions. With eighteen years of experience and a burgeoning reputation, Eriksson confidently produces good performances on a consistent basis which was half-proved in the European Championships. The tendency to let games flow and apply the advantage clause whenever possible makes him a firm favourite among fans, players and managers alike. He was only given two appointments at Euro 2012 as referee, putting in one good and one mediocre performance, in which he was criticised by many for. He had to wait until the second matchday of the second round of games for his first game which was a hotly-anticipated clash between one of the tournament favourites Germany and Holland. Having officiated many important clashes in the past such as the quarter-final second leg between Barcelona and AC Milan in last season's Champions League on his 38th birthday, Eriksson was well equipped for dealing with any incidents which were liable to occur and had the backing of UEFA. The game had extra significance as far as the group standings were concerned with the Netherlands springing an unwelcome surprise from their point of view by losing their opening match against Denmark while the Germans could all but confirm their quarter-final place and solidify the top position in Group B with a victory of their own in the eagerly awaited encounter between two of the world's greatest footballing nations who have a distinctly bitter rivalry stretching back across many generations. He handled it well overall giving out just three yellow cards and allowed the match to flow well, rarely blowing the whistle unless absolutely necessary. He stayed out of the firing line and earned some rave reviews by journalists in his homeland for the display. There was only one moment which was questionable when he turned down Holland's appeals for a penalty in the second half when Robin Van Persie felt that he was fouled by Germany captain Phillip Lahm however replays showed barely a touch on the forward who went tumbling to the ground far too easily therefore those criticisms were soon quashed. His second match was another game which was important to the two teams in the first set of third group stage fixtures in Group A between the Greeks, needing a win to stand a chance of qualification, and Russia, who had collected four points from their opening two games thus needing just a point to be sure of a quarter-final place. His performance wasn't up to a high standard and he uncharacteristically kept stopping the match needlessly breaking up the rhythm. It was one of the shocks of the tournament as the Greeks progressed against the odds after a demoralising loss to the Czechs in their previous game at the expense of their opponents. He wretchedly and wrongly gave a yellow card to Greece captain and goalscorer Costas Karagounis for diving in the second half instead of awarding a penalty when he was blatantly bundled to the deck by Yuri Zhirkov which infuriated boss Fernando Santos. Eriksson was kept on as one of the eight officials to oversee the latter stages of the tournament handed the role of fourth official for the first of the quarter-final clashes between Czech Republic and Portugal at the National Stadium in Warsaw. Overall, it was a 50/50 tournament for Eriksson- half good and half bad. There is an old saying that football is not played on paper and that goes for refereeing too. The match which everyone would expect to be an easy one to officiate "on paper" turned out to be the one in which Mr Eriksson produced a far worse performance than the big clash between two of the favourites to win the Euro 2012 trophy.

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