MOSCOW, July 22 (R-Sport) – A clutch of refereeing errors through the first two rounds of the Russian Premier League season should be a source of concern for Russia's football officials, the former national team coach told R-Sport on Monday.
In 15 matches since July 14, referees have handed out eight penalties, many of which have sparked ire and indignation from club executives and coaches.
“At this stage, we can say that teams are losing points [in the table] to referees’ mistakes,” said Anatoly Byshovets, who coached Russia for six games in 1998. “There weren’t so many mistakes in the past. This should attract the attention of Russian FA and RPL officials.”
On Sunday, FC Krasnodar owner Sergei Galitsky complained on Twitter that league officiating had contributed to his team's poor start. Krasnodar tied Rostov 2-2 on Sunday, with Rostov scoring their second goal on Artem Dzyuba's spot kick when the referee ruled Alexander Martynovich had hauled down Alexandru Gatcan. Late in the game, Rostov's Timofei Kalachev punched Ricardo Laborde in the back, but was only handed a yellow card.
Krasnodar also suffered a 2-1 first-round loss to Zenit in St. Petersburg, with Miguel Danny's winner appearing to come from offside.
"The penalty was controversial and Kalachev should have been sent off," Galitsky wrote. “Although it was not as bitter as the Zenit match, where [Alexander] Bukharov and Danny were offside. But we can’t do anything: It was at Zenit and we were facing home refereeing.”
Anzhi Makhachkala head coach Guus Hiddink also criticized the referees after his club's 2-1 loss to Dynamo Moscow on Friday. Dynamo's Andriy Voronin nailed the go-ahead goal on a late-game penalty kick after Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez was called for handling the ball. Hiddink accused the referees of missing a similar call against Dynamo earlier in the match.
In April, Russian Sports Minister and former FA chief Vitaly Mutko claimed the refereeing problems were aggravated by the fact top-flight officials were too young for the job. Roberto Rosetti, the head of the Premier League's refereeing department, subsequently lamented the dearth of officials working in the country.
Earlier this month, Rosetti, who was hired by the Russian FA in 2010, said he would crack down on poor-quality referees by dropping them down the divisions.
Football’s ruling body FIFA has declined to include Russian officials in next year’s World Cup in Brazil, a decision that can be traced back to Russia's long-standing refereeing issues.
The last major tournament to feature Russian referees was the 2006 World Cup in Germany. There, the Russian delegation garnered criticism from FIFA president Sepp Blatter for brandishing 16 yellow cards in one match.