MARK HALSEY: BETDAQ World Cup Ambassador and former FIFA and Premier League referee Mark Halsey discusses the latest refereeing decisions in the World Cup, and looks ahead to Sunday’s tournament finale in Qatar.

Players should be charged for post-match outbursts

With regards to Emiliano Martinez’s comments [after Argentina’s quarter final against the Netherlands], FIFA should crack down more on this. Players know they can’t do that in the Premier League because they’ll have a charge thrown at them. We all have off days – I’ve seen Martinez in his games and he’s made a few errors this season as well, so I’m sure he wouldn’t like it if the referee came out and slaughtered him afterwards.

Referees are just easy targets. When this happens in tournament football, FIFA should just come out and charge the players for post-match comments. We can’t let it happen, they can’t say things like that to millions and millions of people.

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Polish referee a good choice to officiate final

I think Szymon Marciniak from Poland is a good choice to referee Sunday’s final. He’s had a very good tournament, he’s only dished out five yellow cards and has had no issues in his games. In the France versus Denmark game there was an incident where Andreas Christensen could have been sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity, but he got that spot on. He’s given no penalties and has had no review, and has generally had a very good tournament.

There’s always added pressure on a referee, no matter the game! You treat every game like a cup final. At the end of the day, you just referee what’s in front of you. They’ve had their meeting beforehand and get told what the directives are, and will referee that final like they’ve refereed any other game in the tournament. I just hope we don’t get any silly interference from VAR, that would ruin the final and what’s been a great tournament?

Who do I think will win? It looks a great final, I’m going to go for Argentina!

Referee wasn’t to blame for England loss – but Kane should have been awarded spot-kick

A lot of people are blaming the referee for England’s loss to France in the quarter final, but for me, it wasn’t down to the referee. Having said that, when you look at his performance, he was very inconsistent with his recognition of offences, such as when to give a foul and when not to. If you look at the second penalty for the foul on Mason Mount, he has to see that in real time, that should not have gone to VAR! A referee at that level should be giving that in real time. I felt his performance was too inconsistent.

For the Harry Kane incident, the first foul started outside the area, but it continued inside the area. If the referee allowed play to continue and it goes into the area and he’s still being fouled, then really a penalty should have been given. That was a clear and obvious error by the match official, where VAR could have got involved, but they didn’t. I’m surprised they didn’t get involved. That’s where we’ve seen so many inconsistencies with VAR in this tournament.

Regarding the challenge on Bukayo Saka, which led to France’s opener, a lot of people will say he was fouled. You look at the incident and I don’t think the referee had a great viewing angle. The official who had the best viewing angle was the assistant referee, who should have come in and signalled a foul to England. It was subjective, which is why VAR did not get involved. Obviously, France have gone up the other end and scored, so VAR has the ability to get involved, but it wasn’t a clear and obvious error by the match officials – it’s a subjective one.

Referee lost control of the Argentina v Netherlands game – his performance was poor

I remember saying that when the knockout stages of the competition arrive, the discipline seems to go. It’s down to the referees to stamp their authority on the game when needed. I think in the quarter final stages you can look at one game in particular – the Netherland versus Argentina fixture – where the referee, Antonio Lahoz, lost control.

There was a lot of conversation about the referee in the England versus France game but he didn’t lose control, there were just subjective decisions regarding his performance. I think if you look at the Holland v Argentina game, Lahoz was the standout figure of the match, so you can argue that he lost control.

Referees officiate what’s in front of them – they’re not told to go out and referee any differently, they’ve all had their directives before the tournament started. When you look at his performance in that game, I just felt he didn’t stamp his authority on the game early enough. You could argue that two Argentinian players – Lionel Messi and Leandro Paredes – could have been sent off for two yellows. He just didn’t stamp his authority and players know when they’ve got a weak referee.

I was very surprised by it because he’s a very experienced referee – lots of the payer know him from the Champions League, so I was surprised by the way he refereed that football match. He didn’t show any empathy for the game, it was all about him, and he was too distanced from incidents. When you don’t stamp your authority on the game, players know what they can get away with.

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