Referee age limit abolished soon by Fifa

The referee age limit will be abolished soon, announced the Fifa Executive Committee. Now international referees have to stop at the age of 45. Fifa regulations say that a referee “shall not have reached the age of 45 [born in 1967 or later]* on 1 January of the year for which they have been nominated”.

45-referee-age-limitBlatter announced the new measures after he heared he will be banned as IOC member when he turns 80. At a press conference the current Fifa president said that referees “shall be carefully evaluated”.

“The executive committee approved the proposal from the referees committee”, a Fifa statement said, “that every FIFA referee over the age of 45 shall be carefully evaluated by the referees committee every year according to technical assessments, medical examinations and fitness tests.”

According to the old Fifa and Uefa guidelines for example Stephané Lannoy had to stop refereeing by the end of 2014. Uefa has added Antonio Mateu Lahoz and Deniz Aytekin. Also AR Darren Cann had to stop at the end of this year. That’s why Howard Webb went to see his long-term assistant during his last Champions League in November this year.

Referee as Athlete of the Year

When can we expect it: a referee as Athlete of the Year in The Netherlands? Dutch sports organisation NOC*NSF will announces the male and female athletes of 2014 on December 12.

Logo NOCNSFAll World, European and Olympic Champions are automatically nominated in The Netherlands. But when is a referee qualified to earn a nomination? Kuipers told when he heared about his CL final appointment: “Being on the pitch during the Champions League final is the highest achievement in football for players and also for referees.”

Is only a World Cup final enough for such a prize? That’s what happened to Nicola Rizzoli who won was Athlete of the Year in Italy. Kuipers has two more chances to get a nomination for the prize. In 2016 and 2018 he might get the Euro and World Cup final. If so, he definately deserves at least a nomination for the award.

Have you ever seen it in your country, a Referee as Athlete of the Year?

Best referee of 2014

2014 has almost come to an end. Who is the best referee in the world in 2014 in your opinion?

  • Is it Rizzoli who got the World Cup final?
  • Kuipers who got the Champions League final?
  • AFC Champions League final referees Alireza Faghani (1st leg) or Yuichi Nishimura (2nd leg)?
  • Wilmar Roldán and Sandro Ricci who both refereed the final rounds of the Copa Libertadores?
  • CAF Champions League final referees Janny Sikazwe or Bakary Gassama?

You may even add one yourself. Please comment and share your Referee of 2014 with me!

If you want to read more about Björn Kuipers, read the profile I wrote about the Dutch Referee.

Referee Lewis Hope in Viktor Kassai’s footsteps

A referee with ambitions who has set his goals straight: he wants to be a a Football League referee in the Season 26/27 season. It’s Lewis Hope, a 13-year-old miniwhistler from Dorset. In an interview with Dutch Referee Blog he tells that he prefers to live in Hungary because Viktor Kassai is his sporting hero.

Referee Lewis HopeLewis, please introduce yourself

My name is Lewis. I am 13 years old and I am a miniwhister in Dorset in the UK.

When and why did you become a referee?

I am not a qualified referee yet. In the UK we cannot take our basic referee course until we are 14 so I have another 1 year and 2 months before I can even qualify as a proper referee. In season 2012/13, I did a miniwhistler course just after my 11th birthday, although you are meant to be 12 before you are allowed to do it. I was given permission to do it a year early though. It meant that I could referee games at my school for children at least 1 year younger than me. I refereed my first game at age 11 years and 5 weeks at my primary school. I had a lot of support during the game, my PE teacher was on the pitch with me ready to take over if I couldn’t cope or lost control and my Mum and another teacher supervised my 2 assistant referees.

I have always wanted to be a referee. Andre Marriner got me into refereeing when I was just 2, he and my Mum are friends and he has encouraged me ever since then. He is a big support to me. By the time I was 4/5, when I went out to play football with my friends they would run about kicking the ball and I would run about with them with a whistle in my mouth and red and yellow cards in my hands! I did try playing, I was a goalkeeper for a while but I really didn’t enjoy it. I enjoyed being the person on the pitch who made sure no-one was cheating or breaking the rules. My friends want to be the next Ronaldo or Messi but I want to be the next Andre Marriner, Mark Clattenburg, Michael Oliver or Viktor Kassai.

I finally get to do my basic referee course next summer when I am 13 although I still won’t be allowed to register until I am 14. I can’t wait!

How was your season?

Last season was very frustrating for me. Season 2012/13 I carried on refereeing at my primary school and was doing 2 games every week. I enjoyed it very much and my classmates at school loved having me as their referee as it made it our game. It wasn’t the teachers taking charge, it was one of us. My PE teacher did supervise me and stepped in if I missed something. I left primary school last summer and started at secondary school last September. That meant I was now in the youngest year group at school and so there as no younger year group to referee. My primary school PE teacher did invite me back to my old primary school to referee there but their football club ran from 3.15-4.15 and I don’t finish school until 3.30. By the time I got out of school and my Mum drove me to my old primary school and I got changed I had missed nearly the whole session so if lucky I would just get one short game in, 10 mins per half. They only ran the club for one term as well so I wasn’t getting any game time and was getting very frustrated. I came very close to just giving up on my dream because it felt like I was never going to achieve it. Chris Wild from the UEFA referee department stepped in and started to talk to me about my dreams of being a referee and helped get me back interested again instead of being just frustrated.

The season ended very nice for you with meeting referee Kassai, I read on your blog. How was that? What does Kassai mean for you?

Hungarian referee badge

Hungarian referee badge

Meeting Viktor was just the best day of my life. He is the best referee in the world and my sporting hero. I watch all his games and study his positioning, how he interacts with players and try and work out the difference between when he gives a foul and when he plays an advantage so I can learn. He is the one whose footsteps I really want to follow in.

He was just brilliant when I met him. He spent nearly the whole afternoon with me, along with his team. They were very good fun and kind caring men. The conversation wasn’t all refereeing, we talked about school, the Hungarian Revolution, the differences between football in the UK and Hungary and about Hungary in general. Gabor Eros is a regional trainer in Hungary, I tried to sneak onto the basic course he ran last December but my Mum has password protected her credit card so I wasn’t able to pay for it and got caught out when her credit card company phoned her about the attempted payment.

She wasn’t very pleased with me. Gabor has invited me to go and do some training with him when we go to Hungary next summer, which I’m really looking forward to. I got some really good advice from all of the team and they really encouraged me to go after my dreams.

How does your RA help you getting better?

At the moment I don’t get any help from my RA. You have to be 14 and qualified before you can register with them but I will join up next year when I turn 14. At the moment I have my own unofficial coach Lucy May, who is a level 3 referee. She is the Referee Development Officer for Northumberland. I’m also lucky to have 5 excellent mentors who are all top flight referees Andre of course is my main mentor, Mark Clattenburg teaches me about application of the LOTG, Michael Oliver is my fitness coach, James Linington is my nutritional coach and Simon Hooper teaches me what the LOTG are and what they mean. I also get help from Roger Vaughan, who is a Football League assessor and Gary Willard who is a Football League referee coach. They set me teaching sessions when they see me and then quiz me on it the next time they see me. Sometimes they make me learn a particular section of the LOTG and sometimes they give me some scenarios to watch and I have to explain whether the referee was right or wrong with the decision and why. I also have Chris Wild and his team at UEFA in Nyon and David Elleray for support. I have also found a lot of support in the wider refereeing community. The majority of the National Group referees talk to me after a game at Bournemouth, discuss decisions with me, explain why some were made or missed! They also encourage me to stick with my dream and not give up. I go to Yeovil & Southampton with my Mum often as a referee guest, which is great because I get to spend more time with the match officials learning from them.

What are your goals in refereeing?

My ultimate aim is to one day be as good as Viktor Kassai and referee on the FIFA list. That is over 20 years away yet though and I have to put in a lot of hard work and learning before that happens.

First off I have to take the learning opportunity I have been given next season, Dorset FA are piloting a new referee club partnership scheme in minisoccer and I have been invited to take part in it. A specified number of clubs will register with the county and will have young qualified referees and any miniwhistlers, like me, allocated to them to referee all of their home games. I will referee U8 & below due to my age.

Each club will also have a senior county referee allocated to them who will act as a mentor and coach to us young referees and tailor our training needs to what we need. I will run the line to the older more experienced referees to give me the chance to learn from them and I will get qualified referees running the line to me in my first games so they are there to help guide me. We will have joint training sessions with the clubs we are allocated to, this will help teach the coaches and players the LOTG and learn about our role as referees.

The clubs have basically agreed to allow young referees and trainee referees to learn their trade in a safe and non-hostile environment. If I make a mistake instead of having to listen to people abusing me, we (the senior referee, the managers/coaches & me) will sit down after the match and discuss the mistake, where I went wrong, what I should have done and how I can get it right the next time. It will be used to help me learn and progress and not create a situation where I lose confidence and perhaps think of giving up because of abuse.


I am currently learning the LOTG relevant to mini-soccer for U8’s and below before the season starts. It will be a chance for me to start to learn the best positioning to maximise my chance of seeing incidents, to understand the LOTG & apply them fairly and honestly to both teams, to have the confidence to make the big calls as I see them at the time, to accept when I have called one wrong, learn from my mistakes, because I know I will make them, to analyse every game and see where I can improve and also to take satisfaction from what I did well. Viktor says it doesn’t matter what level you are refereeing at you must still put in a good performance and make the correct decisions.

Miniwhistler Lewis Hope as AR.I will do my basic referee course at the start of season 15/16 when I am 13 and then start refereeing in my local youth leagues as soon as I turn 14. My aim then is to learn as much as I can, keep improving, get selected for the referee academy and referee in the youth leagues until I am 16. Once I am 16 I will look to go for an enhanced promotion from Level 7 – Level 5. If I work hard enough and do enough games I can get my level 5 by the time I am 17 or 18, referee in the local leagues and become an assistant referee on the supply league.

I will keep setting new goals every season to gradually work up from Level 5 to level 4 first and referee on the supply league while running the line on the contributory league, then to level 3 and referee on the contributory league and run the line on the football league. The goal after that will be level 2 and referee on the supply league while running the line on the Football league and then finally level 1. If I work really hard and manage to go for promotion every year then I could do that by the age of 22/23 but I think it more likely I’ll be around 25/26 at the youngest before I make it to that level.I just have to keep my focus, work hard, learn as much as I can, work with my mentors & coach, listen to

them, take their advice and learn to put that into practice. Listen to assessors and take on board what they tell me, they will be trying to help me learn and improve. When I get it wrong or have a bad game as is bound to happen then I have to keep the faith, look at the mistakes I made, work out why I made them and what I can do to not make them again in the future.

I could probably reach my FIFA goal soner if I move to Hungary and work my way up the leagues there as the pyramid is less complex but I’m having a bit of trouble persuading my Mum to move there and let Gabor Eros be my full time coach! Any suggestions on how I can persuade her would be welcome!

Want to follow Lewis Hope? Follow him on Twitter or read his blog.

Roberto Payer’s life lessons for referees

That story has some lessons which would be helpful for referees, is what I thought after reading the interview with Robert Payer in Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. He’s the general manager of hotels Waldorf Astoria and Hilton Amsterdam. Payer grew up in Italy and worked his way up from servant to general manager. In the section “Life lessons” he talks about things he learned and helped him in his career.

Below I’ve worked out three of quotes and how referees can learn from that.

Roberto Payer

Ambition and hard work

“Too many people want to earn a lot of money, but don’t want to work hard for that.” Payer says he started as a young servant in a hotel and worked hard getting better jobs at the hotel and finally getting promoted as director at the age of 38.

It works the same for referees. You will not become an international referee if you don’t work hard or have a straight goal you’re working at. And sometimes that takes some jobs/exercises you really don’t like like dish washing (mr. Payer) or training in the rain during holidays when everybody else is relaxing (referee).


“It is normal that you feel uncertain when you are young, but be convinced of your own qualities without being cocky.”

When you have that ambition, you need to believe in it. You need to have confidence that you are going to reach your goal. Always remind yourself that you have it in you to reach what you want to. And the addition of Robert Payer about being cocky is very important too. Some referees have a mentor but always try ignore the criticism, which is just meant to give you things to work on so you could improve yourself.


“I am strict. I see everything. I even see it when someone of my team has not shaven himself properly, I’ll send him home to do it again.”

And another one about appearance: “I love good quality, that’s what I’ve learnt from my parents. It’s better to have one great suit than three wrong ones.”

Both quotes are about appearance and both make sure you need to look good and pay attention to that. When walking into the boardroom of the football club you’re going to referee that first impression is very important. It’s very sloppy when your shirt is not tucked in your short. Players might take you less serious. When everything is perfect they have nothing to comment about and they’ll think about football.

That brings me to another question I’ve discussed with dr. Errol Sweeney. He asked me after a previous blog post why I never wear suit and tie. No special reason for that, it’s very common in The Netherlands on youth level to be dressed with suit and shirt. So please tell me what’s most common in your country to wear before a match?

Deniz Aytekin and Mateu Lahoz promoted to Elite referees

Deniz Aytekin and Mateu Lahoz promoted to Elite referees by Uefa. The list is published by The 3rd Team.

There are now 4 Spanish referees in the top group of Uefa: David Fernández Borbalán, Alberto Undiano Mallenco, Carlos Velasco Carballo and Antonio Mateu Lahoz.

Deniz Aytekin joins the German official Felix Brych by the best European referees.

Arbitro Mateu Lahoz

Kuipers gives Markovic red card – what would you do?

Lots of dicussion on social media about the red card for Liverpool player Markovic by referee Bjorn Kuipers. Here is the situation.

Markovic is looking where his opponent is and then swings his arm in that direction. It’s not just striking an opponent that is worth a red card, also an attempt to strike an opponent.

What do you think of this decision? Would you have given the red card?

Tips to determine shirt colours of football teams

How do you determine shirt colours of the teams you referee? That’s easier said than done. The Laws of the Game are clear: “The two teams must wear colours that distinguish them from each other and also the referee and the assistant referees. Each goalkeeper must wear colours that distinguish him from the other players, the referee and the assistant referees.”

But that’s the theory. During games I see lot’s of strange colour combinations which are allowed by referees. It’s not only the referee shirt colour that causes problems. I posted some examples in this blog post about referee shirt colours.

Last week I saw an Ajax goalie wearing a red shirt and that while Ajax’ main colours are white and red. Yes, there are different sorts of reds, but referees should make it easy for themselves. The same with the Arsenal goalie in their match against Stoke. A lime goalkeeper shirt and a yellow player’s kit is not a good combination.

Ajax goalieAjax shirt.Arsenal goalie wearing lime and Arsenal green.

Tips to determine shirt colours

There are a few things you can do as referee to be sure colours of the players’ shirts are different – that would make it a lot easier for you on the pitch.

    colour wheel
  • Do your homework and check both teams online. Pictures of the club’s shirts are often on their website.
  • Try to find a picture of the specific team you’ll be refereeing. The goalie is pictured then as well.
  • Be aware of the colour wheel on the right. Colours in the same category definately go not well together and categories next to eachother are at least doubtful.
  • So if you are still not sure, ask the teams to bring a player + goalkeeper shirt to your dressing room.
  • Also check the sock colours of both teams. It’s quite difficult to determine which team is allowed to throw-in if both wear red socks. Just ask the teams if they have another colour available
  • And remember: doing refereeing homework is not enough. Ask team managers the moment you arrive which colours they’ll be playing in. It is my experience that some clubs will wear away kits despite both home kits go quite will together.

I must say I actually made a big mistake with that. I have a white Champions League referee shirt. Don’t wear it often, but found a weekend where it would be perfect. The home team has a yellow-black shirt and the visitors normally play in a red shirt and white short. I forgot to ask about the colours and when I walked to the pitch and only then I realised the problem. The away team played in away kits (white shirt and red short) – which is uncommon for youth teams in The Netherlands. The man who had the key of my dressing room left the building to smoke and I couldn’t get in my room to get another shirt. I never forget to ask it before matches since that moment.

And what if one team has only one striped kit in yellow and blue and the other team has a home kit in yellow and away kit in blue? Use the shirts in plain colours so one team plays in a shirt from the other club. Makes it a lot easier for you as referee. That’s what Barnsley did in their game against Chrystal Palace.