Euro 2012: Controversial referee to officiate England v Sweden game

• Official infuriated Wenger in Arsenal Champions League game
• Glen Johnson says toe infection will not be hindrance

Uefa has confirmed the appointment of Damir Skomina, the Slovenian referee who so infuriated Arsène Wenger as Arsenal bowed out of the Champions League last season, to officiate England's match with Sweden in Kiev on Friday. Wenger confronted Skomina, 35, in the tunnel immediately after Arsenal had narrowly failed to recover a 4-0 first‑leg deficit against Milan, with the Frenchman furiously claiming the official had awarded the Italian side too many free-kicks in the game at Emirates Stadium. He later suggested Uefa had built its referees up into "untouchable icons, where you cannot even have a word" with the governing body's control and disciplinary body imposing a three-match touchline ban, his third in 12 months, for his conduct.

Both Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played for Arsenal that night, with Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Rossoneri team defeated 3-0. Skomina actually took charge of six games involving Premier League clubs in Europe last season, showing 32 yellow cards and one red. That dismissal was for Benfica's Maxi Pereira in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea, though English teams have suffered red cards at his hand in the recent past.

The estate agent sent off Tottenham Hotspur's Heurelho Gomes at San Siro after eight minutes of a Champions League group game against Internazionale in October 2010 – the visitors eventually lost 4-3 – and England's goalkeeper Robert Green for a professional foul early in the final World Cup qualifying group game against Ukraine in October 2009.

While there was no disputing the 14th‑minute offence or the award of a penalty on that occasion, Skomina did initially show the red to Rio Ferdinand in a case of mistaken identity, the fourth official eventually intervening, prompting the then England manager Fabio Capello to complain: "Rio was running, the goalkeeper was diving. So I need someone to explain to me how he can get that wrong."

England will continue to monitor Martin Kelly's health ahead of their journey to Kiev for the Sweden game – the Liverpool full‑back has been suffering from a virus – but there is confidence Glen Johnson will be able to continue in the side despite still being on antibiotics as he attempts to recover from a toe infection. The right-back had been suffering from the injury over the last month of the domestic season and his recovery, while steady, is proving a slow process.

"For the last four games of the Premier League season I had a toe infection and was playing with three injections just to kill the pain," he said. "I've been on antibiotics for pretty much five weeks now and it's still there, but it's getting better. I came off them for five days and it got a lot worse so I'm still on them. They're obviously doing something. It's still there but it's manageable. I'm training but it's generally sore after games. But we're in a European Championship. I'm not going to let my little toe stop me. We've got two more games to come [in the group] and I want to enjoy these moments and give it every effort I can."

comments powered by Disqus