Ravshan Irmatov gets Order of People’s Honour

Referee Ravshan Irmatov is awarded with Order of People’s Honour of Uzbekistan. The match official officiated at 2014′s World Cup in Brazil. All three major football papers devote their frontpage to Uzbekistan’s World Cup referees they day after the event.

That is how more countries and sports papers should honour referees. I love it.

It’s not just an Order of People’s Honour that Ravshan Irmatov got.

Thanks to Sanjar Rizayev, the press officer, I am allowed to publish a photo series from the ceremony and the new car Irmatov got from the president.

The car keys for the referee and his assistant.

Car keys for Ravshan Irmatov

Press conference after ref gets honoured.

Ravshan Irmatov press conference

Ravshan Irmatov and his new Chevrolet car.

Ravshan Irmatov's new car

The speech from Ravshan Irmatov.
Ravshan Irmatov's speech.

“I am learning more and more and I am gaining more experience. I am very happy that I have this opportunity”, the Uzebekistan referee says. Read the interview I did with Ravshan Irmatov. Thee Uzbezkistan refree was one of the referees who surprised the World in 2010. In 2014 he got the record of refereeing 9 World Cup matches. In 2010 he got the semi-final between The Netherlands and Uruguay. In 2014 he officiated a quarter final between The Netherlands and Costa Rica.

Scotland’s top referees take final step

Scotland’s top referees did their first pre-season fitness test last weekend. A big moment for the the refs at Stirling University. The official kit was presented, the season is going to start soon.

But how do Scotland’s top referees prepare for a new season? Referee boss John Fleming and referees Bobby Madden and Nick Walsh tell you how they’ll become ready for the 2014/2015 season.

John Fleming, Head of Referee Operations at the Scottish FA: “They are training right through. There’s no such thing as a rest period now. They’re also involved in a 170 friendlies today.”

The young Nick Walsh adds: “This test day is the final step. We are making sure we’re fully set for the season ahead.”

“It’s an extensive pre-season program”, Bobby Madden says. “It can be quite challenging at times.” The referees train in speed sessions, endurance sessions but also for injury prevention. “It covers everything”. We need to make sure the referees and assessors are prepared as best as they can for the new season”, says Bobby Madden. He got two semi-finals last season in the Scottish and League Cup. “I’d love to think that one day I could referee a final.”

Scotland’s top referees tell more about their pre-season preparation and their ambitions in the video below:

Want to know more about refereeing in Scotland? Read the interview with Barry Cook.

Or check how to become a referee there.

Referee Escort Uefa Super Cup: win 2 tickets

Gazprom is looking for 3 kids who want to be Referee Escort during the Uefa Super Cup in Cardiff. You can win 2 tickets: one for the kid, one for you.

The message that Gazprom has sent out:

“If your child is between 7-9 years old and between 41 and 53 inches in height, it could be part of the pre-match walkout and be a Referee Escort ahead of kick-off at this year’s UEFA Super Cup.

We raffle three exclusive Referee Escort places for the walkout before the match between Real Madrid CF vs. Sevilla FC on 12th August 2014 in Cardiff!”

The online participation is possible until Monday, July 28th 23:59 Central European Time.

Fill in the form and let your kid become a referee escortReferee Escort.

The jaywalking referee saves lifes in NYC

The jaywalking referee.
The jaywalking referee showed up in New York to prevent people from illegal or reckless pedestrian crossing of a roadway – also known as jaywalking. In his US Referee outfit he joins the streets of the Big Apple.

With this playful event the jaywalking referee wants to pay attention to the annual 286 death because people cross the NYC streets illegally.

Love his use of the referee vanishing spray too, see video below.

Follow the jaywalking referee on Twitter.

Ben Williams: exclusive World Cup referee interview

Ben Williams and his World Cup refereeing team.

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.

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.

World Cup 2014 referee appointments for first matches

Fifa made the World Cup 2014 referee appointments for first football matches Brazil.

Opening match: Brazil – Croatia
Referee: Yuichi Nishimura (Japan)
Assistant referees: Toru Sagara and Toshiyuki Nagi.

Read the profile “Yuichi Nishimura can bring Asian refereeing to new heights”

Match: Mexico – Cameroon
Referee: Wilmar Roldan (Colombia)
Assistant referees: Humberto Clavijo and Eduardo Diaz

Match: Spain – Netherlands
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
Assistant referees: Renato Faverani and Andrea Stefani

Match: Chile – Australia
Referee: Noumandiez Doue (Ivory Coast)
Assistant referees: Songuifolo Yeo and Jean Claude Birumushahu (Burundi)

Download pdf with full appointments including 4th official and reserve assistant.


Further appointments will most of the time be published first on The 3rd Team.

Sander van Roekel happy in shadow of Kuipers

In 1980 Sander van Roekel was a promising striker in the u8 team of SKV, but he got into refereeing very early in his career. When he entered professional football as referee, a member of Van Roekel’s football club wrote on the club’s website: “If Sander Van Roekel will reach the top of professional football, and if people maybe even will be talking about him in Europe, remains to be seen.”

Start as professional referee

Sander van Roekel when he was a young referee.

Sander van Roekel when he was a young referee. Photo courtesy SKV.

Sander van Roekel was also with Björn Kuipers, Bas Nijhuis and Pol van Boekel on the C-list of Dutch referees, talented refs who just joined professional football. “But I soon realised they were better”, Van Roekel told newspaper De Gelderlander. “Then I switched to a role as assistant referee.” Van Roekel became an international referee in 2007 and teams up with Kuipers almost immediately; both will be joined by Erwin Zeinstra in 2011. “The referee makes the choice who he wants in his refereeing team.”

Van Roekel trains three times a week at Veenendaal Atletiek Vereniging, a sports club for runners. He also works three days a week as teacher in economy at a secondary school. “I’ve made good arrangements with my colleagues”, the assistant ref says. “Because if the KNVB (Dutch FA) calls me, I need to be there.” And his students, what do they think of his other job? “They know I’m an assistant referee and address me about the Champions League and the World Cup”, he told Helden Online, “but I’m not really in the spotlight. And that’s what I like.”

In the shadows of Björn Kuipers

Van Roekel accepts his role in the shadows of Björn Kuipers. Although the Dutch FA talks about “team Kuipers”, it’s Kuipers who does the media talks and the assistants are more at the background. “Well, as assistant referee you need to know your place”, he told Spits. “If Björn goes to the theatre everybody whispers his name and they wonder if it’s him or not. When I go to the theater, no one recognizes me.”

The Dutch assistant referee told that he can easily walk in Amsterdam the day after the Ajax – PSV clash in the Dutch league. “Nobody knows who I am, not even when I had to make a questionable decision on the field.”

The author on the website of Van Roekel’s football club was not completely right about the future of his career. Yes, he’s active on Europe and world’s highest level, but we don’t hear a lot about him. He’s a quiet man in the shadows of Björn Kuipers – and is happy with that.

Read the profile of Björn Kuipers.