What I assessed as a quite impressive showing by the referees in the first round of the group stage, was unfortunately a delusion, as almost each of them performed much worse coming around for a second time (clear examples: Karasev and Skomina). And now, it was Kuipers's turn, and what a huge turn-around.
2012 and all that...
2012 was a bad year for Kuipers. He had a very controversial penalty-kick call in favour of Barca playing against Milan in the quarter-finals of CL, and two months later his whistle wasn't heard when Ireland's R. Keane was impeded in Croatia's penalty-area. Not much improvement in his second match of EURO 2012 resulted in sending him packing at the end of the group stage. I'm afraid the same fate awaits him now, and it is also a call to UEFA and the Netherlands to search for a new Dutch leading-referee among their ranks.
I never understood why Kuipers was a permanent feature in top international tournaments. Among our colleagues, gefluegel commented a lot about his performances, and seems not to be a great fan of his, and schiri demonstrated more scathing views about Mr. Kuipers. When I watched Kuipers at his first appointment in the current tournament Poland vs Germany), I was quite pleased, though me and gefluegel detected some of his flaws. But in Bordeax the shadows loomed ominously - no improvement in yellow apportiation - he retracted from the consistent policy of admonishing players who stopped unlawfully a counter-attack of their opponents. On the other hand, he was lenient on quite deliberate and dangerous fouls. Thus, Busquets and Morata got away with some nasty tackles. But the worst - potentially crucial for the outcome of the encounter, and possibly critical for the referee's future in EURO 2016 - was unfolding through minutes 70-72. Then the scoreline was 1-1. Three players tried to deal with a high searching ball inside the Croatian penalty-area. Aduriz (Spain) clearly sent his arm forward and pushed Versaljko (Croatia) from behind. The Croatian, sandwiched between two Spaniards, stumbled upon Silva who was in front of him, and both fell on the ground. Not only did the ref. point to the penalty-spot, instead of penalizing Spain for the initial foul, he added a demeanour by booking the Croat (even had it been a foul - which it was not - there was no reason to book just because it was committed inside the penalty-area, as it was a minor infringement at most). And then came the implementation of the referee's decision. Goalie Subasic ran off the goal-line and reached a distance of more than two metres before Ramos took the kick, and blocked it. No retake was awarded. Many might accuse aar Liesveld, as there has been developing a growing feeling since aars had been introduced to UEFA's games, that they were just part of the scenery, contributing nothing of value. But, this quick push forward should have been seen by the ref. himself, and acted upon appropriately. Some Croats might argue that Ramos stopped for a fraction of a second, and the ref should have implemented the "feinting" directive in LAW 14, ie, prohibiting the practice itself, flushing the yellow to Ramos, and penalizing Spain with an indirect free-kick. I disagree - Ramos stopped for a tiny fraction of a second which might not be detected by the ref, and even if the ref. saw it, he could definitely consider it legitimate.