Former FIFA referee Sergei Khusainov – on the whistles in favor of Zenit and Loko, the reasons for refereeing errors and the conspiracy against Spartak.

The ending season in Russia (there is only one match left until its complete end – the Cup final) turned out to be unprecedented in format (thanks to the coronavirus) and the concentration of various scandals. Refereeing was discussed more often than football.

In an exclusive interview with our portal, the ex-FIFA referee and former head of the RFU referee committee Sergey Khusainov explained why this is happening, subjecting the existing refereeing system in Russian football to harsh criticism.

“Eagle eye” system, intercoms, now VAR have changed the philosophy of the game. For the worse in my opinion”

What mark on a five-point scale would you give to Russian referees over the past season?

The question is difficult. Judging by how the championship ended, what mistakes were made – we are very far from ideal. Unfortunately, there were some football moments throughout the season. On the one hand, the mission has been completed – the championship has been held. But I am not satisfied with the quality of the work of the national team of football referees of Russia as a non-random person in this area. On the contrary, there is bitterness.

From what in the first place?

I don’t understand where we are going. What do we want to achieve? The system for the appointment of judges, the implementation and implementation of the VAR system raise many questions. When I look at all this from the side, sitting on the sofa, it becomes very sad. The “eagle eye” system, intercoms, now VAR – all this in a complex changed the philosophy of the game. For the worse in my opinion.

Football has become a technology competition. It was profitable for someone (financially, economically) to introduce them into this great game. But for the system to function correctly, expensive equipment alone is not enough. We need specially trained VAR referees who will do only this day and night.

Why do the judges both want and interpret the prompts of video assistants?

They interpret the way they perceive the rules of the game and game episodes. Without offense, without names and humiliation of the human qualities of my colleagues, I will say: young people who are now allowed to determine the rules of the game on the football field are simply trained. They act as taught. The question is who taught them and how. It was surprising to me to hear the explanations of the head of the refereeing corporation Viktor Kashshai that he allegedly turned to some colleagues in Europe for advice, and they said that there was no penalty for Sobolev in St. Petersburg. From the outside it looks just humiliating.

Let me remind myself of a parable. The rabbi dies. People gathered in the synagogue to choose his successor. Someone suggests: “Let’s choose Abram as our new rabbi. A worthy person, businessman, doing charity work – what we need. ” All are in favor. And suddenly one, Zyama, gets up and says: “I am against it. His daughter is a prostitute. ” Here Abram himself could not resist: “Zyama, what are you talking about? I don’t have a daughter either! ” And Zyama replies: “I said – and you think.” So it is here. Kashshai said, and you think – is it true or not true. But for me, such a humiliation of the level of football referees is nonsense.

Have you met this before?

I remember the scandalous episode at the 1990 World Cup, when Maradona, with the score 0: 0, knocked the ball out of the goal of the Argentine national team in a match with the USSR national team. He did not even put his hand under the blow – he knocked the ball out of the penalty area with it! I was then sitting on the bench of our team as an administrator and saw this moment with my own eyes. Fredriksson, the referee, was in an ideal position, in accordance with all the recommendations of FIFA, but nevertheless showed with a gesture: “Let’s play further.

Then, after the championship, at the gathering of the top-class referee in Rome, I asked the head of the referee corps: “Excuse me, but how to understand the” hand of Maradona “and the referee’s reaction to it?” He raised his finger to his mouth and said two words: “No comments.” And Kashshai says: “I called and asked …” Who are they, where did they play? Why all this? Nobody shoots or kills the referee for making a mistake. But when the head of the judiciary tries to justify the mistake, convincing everyone that this is not a mistake at all, then doubts arise about the qualifications of this head. It definitely doesn’t paint him.

After the sensational game “Zenith” – “Spartak” in the Cup, the head of the corps says about the judge: “I liked him”. Perfectly! Nobody says that Ivanov is a bad person. But I, for example, did not like the work of the entire brigade. I don’t understand why it took so long to award a penalty for Azmun. There was no crowding of players, an open position. What does this mean? Only that both those who are in the field and their assistants behind the monitors simply do not understand football martial arts. It takes so long to make a decision in the simplest episode – this is an indicator of the professional quality of the arbitrators. I’m not even talking about the moment with Sobolev and Zhirkov. This is generally a Chinese letter for them.

Is this a penalty?

Of course, a penalty. And if this is not a penalty, then please give Sobolev a yellow card for the simulation. The trouble is that they are trained like this, and retraining is always difficult.

“The system is built in such a way that it is necessary to be judged not only by the rules of the game, but also at the request of the clubs”

You have consistently criticized the former head of the RFU refereeing and inspection department Yegorov. Did his replacement make a difference?

Replacing the leader will not change anything. Spartak invited Tedesco – what has changed? Probably, something has changed in the training process. But it is impossible to reorganize the team’s game so quickly, quickly, to develop the players. So it is in refereeing. Kashshai came before a break in the championship, gave two or three lectures – so what? This is not an increase in the level of refereeing. Opportunity to evaluate arbitrators from the outside, in playing practice he did not have.

Why did I criticize Yegorov? For attempts to justify elementary, generally recognized mistakes. Explaining Vilkov’s decision to score Miranchuk’s goal, scored in a clear violation of the rules, Yegorov gave a hit: “The fans would not understand us if this goal was canceled!”. But there is no such thing in the rules, guys. A goal was either scored by the rules or not.

Do you understand for what merits a former referee from not the football country itself, Hungary, was honored to lead Russian referees?

It was possible to invite people from more football countries, but for some reason, understandable only to the leaders of the RFU, such a decision was made. I can’t explain it – I can only speculate. In terms of professionalization, improving the quality of arbitration, in my opinion, this is the wrong choice.

Look at such a “small” football power like England. They were the latest in Europe to introduce VAR. They, contrary to the recommendations of FIFA, canceled the age limit for referees – 45 years (I also fell under it at one time). The British created their own corporation and said: we, the former judges, will select, train and appoint arbitrators for all national leagues. No age limit.

If a person has extensive work experience, successfully passes the standards and keeps up with the development of events on the field – this is a treasure trove. The longer you use it, the more benefit you will bring to young, novice arbiters. Therefore, in England today gray-haired guys are judged. And there is no dispute, no aggression. The opposite example is Russia.

What do you mean?

When Rosetti came, he dramatically rejuvenated the judiciary. The Italian quickly got rid of most of the experienced, qualified referees who had authority on the football field and did not hesitate to whistle in matches with the participation of certain top clubs. And what and who in return? Our entire system, starting from the amateur level, is built in such a way that it is necessary to judge not only by the rules of the game, but also at the request of the clubs. This is the most terrible and saddest thing. Unfortunately, our arbitrators are not selected based on their professional qualities, but on the principle of “friend or foe”.

What do these requests imply?

There is nothing more to influence the course and result of the match with your decisions. But this is already a criminal, corruption component of the judicial case. And here the referee faces a choice: either you judge by honor and conscience, or you become part of the system. And how to live in a society without obeying the laws of society? The system is created and it is very difficult to remain independent in it.

In the late 90s, when all these technologies were not available, was it easier for judges to work out “orders”?

Of course. When I became the head of the judiciary, the first thing I did was to liquidate the appointment commission, transfer everything to the computer. And then he was stabbed in the back. A group of referees of the major league turned to the head of the football union Koloskov with a request to suspend me from work along with my entire team. And why? The Appointments Commission was liquidated, and it became clear: this is the system. This is the first step to purification. And then the clubs started rolling. They need to come to an agreement somehow, but they cannot agree, because Khusainov crossed out everything. As a result, the wrong referees come to judge them. The clubs thought and decided: “Let’s better clean it up.”

A similar situation arose when the clubs opposed Alexander Egorov (only two abstained). Yegorov then correctly said: “I have one boss – the president of the football union.” It’s true. And the boss said: “We heard you, clubs. Now let’s say to Egorov – he will fix everything, and in a pause we will release him from his post. ” There were three or four rounds to play before the break. Egorov stayed to work, but in reality it was a public apology to the clubs. The system was finalized, fulfilled its mission, and Alexander Egorov, without waiting for resignation, wrote a letter of resignation of his own free will. The situation was quietly released on the brakes.

“Spartak Moscow has returned to the boomerang for the championship season”

Does the development of television technology require more ingenuity from unscrupulous judges?

Of course. Not only is it necessary to “help” some team, but it is also desirable to do it professionally so that the mosquito does not undermine the nose. Here you have to act very technically, and for this you need to be well-versed in the game situation, to know how this or that player behaves on the field.

When a referee needs to justify the “high confidence” shown to him, he expects the slightest violation on the part of a player who already has a yellow card, and is looking for an excuse to get the second one, kick him off the field. Taking an obviously wrong decision, he knows that now the coach will start showing aggression. And he just needs this: “Oh, you raised your hand, opened your mouth – get a red one too!”.

Are you talking about Tedesco now?

I did not mention this name, but still understandable. Football is about emotions. So why should you immediately apply disciplinary sanctions? You can also approach the coach in a human way: “Sorry, I may have been mistaken, but calm down, please, this is just a game.” The problem is that the stakes in modern football are very high.

Do you mean bonuses for getting into European cups?

Yes, yes. Eurocups are guaranteed financial receipts to the club’s treasury. Previously, they had no problems – the money flowed from the budget of the region, the region. And now people are asking questions: why are we worse than football players or hockey players? What are they doing for the country?

Often, watching RPL matches, you catch yourself thinking: “Is your colleague biased?

Often. Typically, bias manifests itself in inconsistent decisions. Ideally, the referee should be equally objective in relation to both participants in the match. If in similar episodes he applies different sanctions to the players of different teams, the experts have a question: what is the difference? The difference lies in the color of the shirts. When the game still has some kind of tournament value, the referee often violates judicial ethics and thereby gives grounds for talking that he is not completely honest with himself. Football does not forgive this.

I remember a parable that was once told by senior comrades. The coach of the losing team comes to the referee room after the game. Appeals to the arbiter: “Ref, you are not to blame for our defeat, so do not be upset.” He smiled, lit a cigarette: “Who is to blame then?” And the coach continues: “And the person who gave you a whistle for the first time in your life is to blame.”

The owner of Spartak Fedun suggested organizing the hashtag “Judge Spartak like Zenit. Do you understand his sarcasm?

Of course. Leonid Arnoldovich has every reason to announce such a hashtag. In Spartak’s matches, absurd decisions were made very revealingly.

Do you see a system in this?

When in the matches of certain clubs the referees show such bias, it is more correct to describe it as an order. The order comes not from Kashshai, but from interested parties. Kashshai may not even know what’s going on there.

What’s the point of “drowning” a team that doesn’t seriously claim anything?

In this particular season – does not apply. This means that in other seasons there was something like that on the part of the leadership (not even the president – he might not know), when to solve the problem it was necessary to do this and that. And the referees who took to the field have fulfilled their mission. And on the way out … they didn’t receive something.

So the boomerang from the golden season has returned to Spartak?

Quite right! As the experience of the sages shows, the boomerang exists. Do not do bad, because it will come back to you. But the fact is that if you are in the jungle, then you live by the laws of the jungle. And in the jungle, the fittest survives.

“11 penalties by Lokomotiv is not a coincidence. It’s just that Sukhina is from this system and plays by its rules “

Is Zenit really being judged in a special way?

Of course, in a special way. The most significant moment is always a penalty: it was, it was not. I used to write a column for Football Review. Semak then worked in Ufa, and the anti-aircraft gunners came there to play “). Vilkov was the judge. The guests are tired after the Champions League. And here’s the moment: Zhirkov throws the ball into the penalty area and falls on his belly on the defender. Vilkov is standing nearby and hesitates for a penalty. The violation was committed by the player in possession of the ball, and the victim received the penalty!

Semak was then indignant, and I wrote in my column: “If such a penalty had been placed at Zenit’s goal, I assure you, the next morning Aurora would have stood on the Moscow River opposite the Football House on Taganka, preparing volley”. Gennady Sergeevich Orlov is often indignant: “Khusainov is always against Zenit. And I am not against Zenit, I am for objectivity.

In your opinion, there is an unspoken order – to help St. Petersburg?

There can be no accidents. If you make decisions according to the rules of the game, you will not judge Zenit anymore. I remember the game two years ago. The referee – a guy from the Ministry of Emergency Situations – at the end of the game, absolutely rightly gave the second yellow defender of Zenit Krishito. He was later criticized, although he worked great. Your colleagues called me, asked for their opinion, and I replied: “I successfully sued. But he will never judge Zenit again. And he never judged Zenit again. Moreover, he was generally moved away from refereeing – he was advised to focus on activities in the Ministry of Emergencies.

Do you remember Igor Egorov from Nizhny Novgorod? Rosetti just arrived in Russia and in his first interview said: “Luciano Spalletti is one of the best coaches in the world.” Listen, you came as the head of the refereeing corps and must be neutral, and you give such signals to subordinates … Zenit plays in Khimki with Dynamo. Egorov plays well. After the first half, “one of the best coaches in the world” runs out onto the field and says something to Yegorov. And after the match, Rosetti declares: “Yes, I judged perfectly, but we suggested that Egorov finish with the refereeing due to injury.” They made it clear to him: move over, and we will include you in the inspection corps for this. Egorov understood everything and left.

Mikhail Vilkov from Nizhny Novgorod has already won 35 matches with Zenit. Is this ok?

This is not good, but on the other hand, it would be fine if there were no inexplicable mistakes from the “no comments” series in favor of Zenit. Back in the late 90s, I told my Western colleagues that only two cities have regular youth championships, where referees start their careers and can improve.

I foresaw the situation that soon all the judges would be from St. Petersburg or Moscow, and it would be very difficult to find neutral ones. Here is Vilkov – he is geographically neutral. But in its actions it does not meet the requirements for a neutral arbiter. By his decisions, he gives reason to believe that he participates in this system.

Does the situation when the former referee Sukhina become the head of the team do not contradict corporate ethics?

So the fans have already filmed a video of him running up to the referees, asking to write down a yellow card not to the Lokomotiv player who broke the rules, but to another. And then another surname appeared in the protocol.

Lokomotiv has taken penalties most often in the league – 11 times. Match?

Of course not a coincidence. It’s just that Sukhina is from this system and plays by its rules.

Is there at least one judge who pleases you?

There was hope for the Ministry of Emergency Situations until he was covered. Talented guys leave refereeing at an early stage: they do not see prospects – all paths to referee’s Olympus are blocked. The system does not need decent people. It’s sad.

Are the football authorities not responding to your comments at all?

Silence. Once invited to Match TV, when Valery Georgievich Karpin was working there. I took part in several programs, and as soon as it came to Zenit, they said: everything, goodbye. Without explaning the reason. Although I just said that according to the rules of the game there could be no other solution in that situation.

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