Headline-hitting these days is the ongoing Football World Cup in Qatar. Surprises have been quick to appear already. Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina, while the refereeing assistance technology has sparked controversies. Representing Romania in Qatar is a crew of three referees. Istvan Kovacs has already been the fourth official referee in the match pitting Qatar against Ecuador. Ovidiu Mihai Artene was a back-up assistant referee for the same match. Linesman Vasile Marinescu is also a member of the referees' crew on the job at the World Cup. We recall that the Romanian Ioan Igna was the last official to have been the main referee in a World Cup final tournament, in Mexico, in 1986. A linesman in a final tournament was Nicolae Grigorescu in France, in 1998. However, the Romanian veteran referee was Nicolae Rainea, a three-time delegate in final tournaments. Rainea was a World Cup referee in 1974, in Germany, in 1978, in Argentina, and in 1982, in Spain.
We need to be honest and say that Romania's national team has been constantly wasting the opportunity to make headway to seniors' versions of final tournaments. However, Romanian national team's run in the U-21 version of the final tournament was way above par. We recall that in 2019 Romania reached as far as the semi-finals of the European Championship. In 2023, the European U-21 Championship will be jointly hosted by Romania and Georgia, so our U-21 team will qualify be default.
Head-coach Emil Sandoi's trainees have recently played two training matches. They defeated second-league leader, Steaua, 4-2, and were held to a 2-all draw by League One team FC Argeş. In March 2023, Romania's U-21 national team will play two friendly matches, against Portugal and Germany. Romania will be joining Spain, Ukraine and Croatia in the 2023 edition of the European U-21 Championship. (EN)