Squad news


17 Feb 2009
Nikolay Ivanov is the last man that Deportivo would have liked to meet again after the scandalous job done by the referee in the Intertoto series of 2005, but the UEFA first-leg game with Aalborg means a crossroad between Depor and the Russian official. He has been criticised in other occasions due to his doubtful calls, however he still considered as a top referee in UEFA’s list.

For the season 2005/2006, Deportivo was close to reach the UEFA Cup, the Galician team was disputing the Intertoto Cup and already had eliminated three teams, including Newcastle United from the Premier League, but in the final it met Olympique Marseille. Depor won the first-leg at the Riazor with a comfortable 2-0, but the returning leg was a disaster as Depor lost 1-5 in France. That was the last European participation of Deportivo previous to this season’s irruption in the UEFA Cup.

That game also represents one of the biggest shames in the short European history of Deportivo, and usually the man appointed as responsible for the debacle is referee Nikolay Ivanov, Russian official that whistled the game and that left big doubts with his suspicious calls, one of the main things that were appointed is that at half-time, a big banner was blocking the view to the changing room of the referees, something prohibited by the UEFA’s regulations.

At the time of the game some people protested because it was rumoured that several French officials mysteriously visited the changing room of the referees, exactly at half-time, ?curiously?, the score was 1-1 during the pause, and in the second half the French side scored four times after Depor was reduced to nine men. Between the errors committed  by the referee were: the expulsion of Duscher and Ribery early in the game in a play that could be resolved with a yellow card, to allow the violent game of Marseille (mainly against Munitis), to allow the second goal of Marseille no matter Maite was hanging over Enrique Romero when he headed the ball into the net during a corner-kick, and to sent off Capdevila due to a foul committed not by him, but by ?Toro? Acu?a.

Depor protested the work of the Russian referee, but its allegations were poor as the Galician club  only sent a report with news articles that was rejected by UEFA’s authorities. It might look like an accident, but the true is that, this game wasn’t the only scandal in which Ivanov has been involved.

Leningrad-born Nikolay Ivanov is often confused with his fellow countryman, Valentin Ivanov, however the quality of both officials is beyond any comparison though the second broke the record of yellow cards during the World Cup game between Portugal and The Netherlands . And it’s that  Nikolay  has shown big lagoons no matter he’s considered as one of UEFA’s premier referees list. He started refereeing in 1981 and earned his international badge in 2000.

The most polemic game of Ivanov occurred in the Russian local competition, it was in March of 2007 as he whistled the match between Lokomotiv Moscow and Kuban Krasnodar. It was the opening game of the season and it ended goalless as the Russian referee made a scandalous decision on the 22nd minute. Lokomotiv were awarded a penalty and Dmitry Loskov scored after second attempt. However some Lokomotiv’s players entered the box before the penalty was taken and referee Ivanov gave the ball to Kuban, though he should have opted to repeat the spot-kick. A big error for an official of his category. Similar story happened during the World Cup 2006 play-off between Bahrain and Uzbekistan and FIFA decided to re-play the game. However Lokomotiv opted to not appeal for a replay as manager Anatoly Byshovets decided to ?not blow a scandal.?

The doubtful calls of Ivanov didn’t end there, on September of the past year, he whistled a qualifying game for the World Cup 2010 between Northern Ireland and Slovakia. Northern Ireland lost the game with a 1-2 score, and the Northern Ireland players complained because Ivanov rejected their appeals after a Slovakian defender appeared to block a Chris Baird’s shot with his high raised hands in the 69th minute. At the moment the score was 1-0 in favour of Slovakia. The penalty could have meant the equaliser, but the Russian referee waved away all protests and then with the Northern Ireland players bewildered, Slovakia scored their second goal to kill off the game.

After that game ended, historic goal-scorer of Northern Ireland, David Healy, complained about the job of Ivanov, ?Decisions went against us and the way referees are these days you can’t even ask them a question, they are so arrogant.? His team mate, Warren Feeney, had also something to say, ?I know they say referees have a difficult job to do but it was one of the most blatant penalty decisions you are likely to see. How high were the guy’s hands about his head? It was frightening.  Then they get a free kick straight away which I didn’t think was a free kick and scored. It was a tough one to take. We are all disappointed he didn’t give it because it really was a stonewall penalty.?



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