Ben Williams (middle) and assistant referees Hakan Anaz and Matthew Cream. Photo provided by referee.
The Dutch Referee blog got an exclusive interview with World Cup referee Ben Williams from Australia. He answered three important questions about his selection, preparation and expectations of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Good luck with your tournament.
1. You are going to the World Cup as referee. How does that feel?
Ben Williams: “Being selected to referee at the FIFA World Cup is the most highest honour that can be bestowed upon a referee. It has been a dream of mine since I first became a referee 22 years ago. When I received the email from FIFA about my selection, there was an overwhelming feeling of excitement. At the same time, there is a feeling of humility, as this is a responsibility that only very few referees are blessed enough to experience. Seeing the excitement in so many others’ faces about my selection, shows that football truly unites people and brings so much joy. My family, friends, work colleagues, students, local referees etc, have been so excited about me coming to Brasil, as everyone knows that the FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event on the planet. To see joy in other people’s faces, gives me great pride.”
2. What did you do to prepare for that big tournament?
Ben Williams: “To prepare for the FIFA World Cup has been a process that began many years ago, but more recently over the past 2.5 years, since FIFA announced the Open Prospective List of Referees for the FIFA World Cup in Brasil. During this project, 52 referees from around the globe were selected on the Open list. We participated in seminars at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland, as well as being selected to show our performances at the FIFA tournaments. I was selected to referee at the London Olympic Games in 2012, then my chance was at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Turkey in 2013. There were also FIFA seminars at the Confederation level, where we were tested physically, medically, Video tests, offside tests, Laws Of The Game tests, as well as tactically (with hired players in the pitch, as we dealt with various scenarios that may arise in the FIFA World Cup).”
“Personally, I have taken the last 6 months off work with leave without pay, to ensure that I can focus on my training, proper recovery (from travel, matches and training), matches etc. I have spent money to ensure that I have professionals working with me off the pitch, to make me the best I can be (fitness, mentally, medically, nutritionally, etc). My two Assistant Referees (Matthew Cream & Halan Anaz) and I have worked together in Hyundai A-League matches in Australia, AFC matches at the Confederation level, as well as FIFA matches. We have paid our own money to travel to various parts of Australia for training camps, to ensure we are fully prepared for the FIFA World Cup. I know how important the World Cup is to everyone involved – from players, coaches, team officials, to the spectators in the stadiums, and the viewing audience watching on TV around the world. We didn’t want to else anything to chance, so being fully prepared is a must for us.”
Ben Williams refereeing in Australia. Photo provided by referee.
3. What do you expect from 2014′s World Cup?
Ben Williams: “It is difficult to know exactly what to expect from the World Cup, as matches can have many different situations occur in them. We have prepared at home, and will do so in the final 2-week preparation camp in Rio de Janeiro, to ensure we are ready. One of the catchphrases is to “expect the unexpected”, so that is why we put so much emphasis on our preparation.”
“I am looking forward to the World Cup being held in Brasil. We had a Referees’ Seminar in May 2013, and I could feel the excitement even then. It’s truly going to be something special – from the crowds and the excitement, to watch the very best players in the world, do what they do best – entertain the billions of fans.”
Check out more profiles via the special World Cup 2014 page on my website.