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EXCLUSIVE: Germany - England World Cup Assistant Referee Mauricio Espinosa Discusses Frank Lampard's Goal That Never Was

Mauricio Espinosa was the assistant referee thrust into the public domain when he failed to spot Frank Lampard's shot spin over the line during the Germany - England second round match during World Cup 2010.

The Uruguayan took time out from his full-time profession as a teacher to discuss that incident, and the fall-out surrounding one of the most controversial moments in the history of the tournament.
Let’s start with your particular job. How has teaching been compatible with officiating?

Mauricio Espinosa: This is sometimes the hardest part, trying to reconcile the job with officiating. Fortunately I have received support in all the high schools where I have worked. My peers and my managers have supported me as well, and this is a fundamental part, to permit me to recover lost class time on occasions. What is your assessment of 2010 in general?

M.E.: 2010 was a spectacular year for me. To reach the World Cup in South Africa was very rewarding. It was a dream come true to have reached it, even though it did not finish in the way I would have wanted. I evaluated my performance in 2010 and found it to be very satisfactory. Being able to work with Pablo [Fandino, assistant] and Jorge [Larrionda, referee], helped me because I learned many things.

I say it did not finish well because we had a mistake in play. A goal is a goal, and it had a tremendous significance. We did not want the notoriety for what happened to us. We wanted a peaceful end, without anyone talking to us about what happened. How do you assess the 'goal' from Frank Lampard?

M.E.: I have been an assistant referee for 10 years. Throughout this time our preparation for the World Cup took on many things, from a physical, technical and psychological standpoint. I could referee for another 15 years, and such an incident would not happen again. I was 150 per cent prepared, but in incidents like that you cannot do anything. I have peace of mind that I did everything I had to do, and was ready and prepared to give my best. Many international referees have defended you, arguing you cannot see the goal from your position.

M.E.: The play developed outside the penalty area, 20 metres from the goal-line, and involved a move where Lampard hit a surprise shot which hits the crossbar, bounces down, and then re-enters the field. I missed the most important part, which was the bounce. The ball was already back into the field and was gone. I had not seen anything because I was fulfilling my role controlling offside, in a position far from the goal-line. Factors occurred which meant I could not see the ball. How did you feel when you saw the replay on TV?

M.E.: I saw the replay after the game. We had a TV in the dressing room, but as a rule we waited until after the game, because we believed watching a play at half-time, whether good or bad, does not help. We had a feeling of helplessness when we saw it. We had been prepared for a lot of things but you cannot prepare for that. Were you surprised by the impact it had?

M.E.: A goal in a World Cup is a goal. It is a key play. It is a decisive move, and we knew that it would have an impact. The truth is, I stand by the opinion of the people who really know the fundamentals of the situation. What was your students' reaction?

M.E.: In class we try to avoid talking about football, but at recess the students gather and talk about the controversial incidents, and they always ask my opinion. I think it is important not to rely on the opinion given by others. I think it is important to look objectively at football. As much as people are passionate, fans have to look objectively at things. Is your goal now to reach World Cup 2014?

M.E.: I am now going to prepare for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. I will give maximum effort to prepare for matches, as always. If I have the luck to be given another World Cup, I will be happy. If not, I will continue working in the same way.

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