With just over a fortnight to go until the second all-Madrid Champions League final, most people will be worrying about the fitness of key players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Antoine Greizmann. Fuck that, the biggest concern should be Mark Clattenburg officiating.
Earlier this week, the 41-year-old was confirmed as the ref for the May 28th final in Milan. Now, I’ve no issue with Clattenburg being England’s representative. He is the country’s best known and most reliable official, not that this is any greater accolade than being the most honest board member at FIFA, and is the obvious candidate for European matches. But the final… Really?
Even with video tech, not a week goes by when Premier League officiating isn’t called into question. Clattenburg isn’t at fault as often as some of the others, but he’s hardly exempt from criticism. We don’t expect perfection, but I can’t see how an Englishman has been picked for the biggest club game on the planet. The only explanation I can think of is that officials at UEFA thought “he can’t do any worse than Howard Webb at World Cup 2010”.
Or maybe Michel Platini thought he’d play a parting practical joke.
Clattenburg himself says he was stunned at the decision. Well I was fucking gobsmacked. Of course, we can’t use Spanish officials for the all-Madrid final. But surely there’s a better option than a ref from a league where the general standard of officiating has been on a slump for the best part of decade.
An Italian would have been great at the San Siro. Of course, we don’t see the weekly mistakes of foreign referees, but I can’t imagine the Italians make as many errors as ours. Besides, Nicola Rizzoli done a pretty decent job in the 2013 final, as well as the 2014 World Cup final. That big stage pedigree can’t be argued with.
I don’t wanna be all doom and gloom, but English football doesn’t deserve to be represented in the Champions League final in any capacity this year. UEFA’s decision to simply pick the representative from the most commercial league seems lazier than Yaya Toure’s last European appearance.
Or maybe I’m just being harsh because I still picture Soccer AM’s Battenberg whenever I hear the Premier League ref’s name.