The Whistle Stop Tour with Martin Atkinson

After seven hours and a 100 miles of cycling Martin Atkinson steps off his bike in Ede. Tired, sweating, but with a big smile on his face. The Premier League referee is one step closer to his finish line: Kaliningrad in Russia. With his Whistle Stop Tour (please donate) he cycles for a good cause to the country of the World Cup host. “I love challenges like this”, he says. “I love every minute of it and I am happy with my fellow riders and the support team.”

The cycling tour is a great preparation for the next Premier League season, but more importantly: it helps lots of people. “I am very lucky that I can do this, because it makes a massive difference for the people who receive the money and help from the charities”, Martin Atkinson says. The effort, sweat and sore legs are “well worth it” biking these 1700 miles.  “I hope it helps a lot of people.”

I personally love the passion Martin is putting in this tour to help out people in need. I’ve donated my last match fee to support Martin during his trip. Will you do too? Let’s support a fellow referee. You can donate on their Whistle Stop Tour page (also just a few euro’s/pounds).

Good luck with the rest of the tour, Martin (and team)!

PS: want to know more background info on the charities or trip details, check below the picture.

The Whistle Stop Tour will start again in 2018. Premier League referee Martin Atkinson will cycle all the way to Russia (1700 miles) to support the good cause. This initiative started in 2016, when Jon Moss teamed up with him. Then they cycled a  thousand miles to visit all the twenty clubs from the highest football level in England.

You can donate on their website.

The 2018 tour

In 2018 Martin will be flanked by fellow riders Mike Tomlinson and Darren Clark, representing the Jane Tomlinson Appeal for the duration of the ride. And as in 2016, the riders will again be supported by Chris Sanders from 1st Class Events and Barry Phillipson from Smart Therapy Studios, the trio will be joined by other riders throughout their journey, including Atkinson’s fellow professional referee Jon Moss, Jim Butters, who led the 2016 challenge, Paul Edmondson, and Mick McGuire from James Grant Sports.

Starting at 11th of June

The WhistleStopTour2018 has started at St. George’s Park on Monday, June 11, and the team will travel through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Poland before reaching their destination in Kaliningrad 18 days later to watch England face Belgium in their World Cup clash on Thursday, June 28.

The ride is all in the name of charity, with the money raised being split between the St David’s Hospice Care Newport, University Hospitals – Coventry & Warwickshire Charity, Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation and The Jane Tomlinson Appeal.

A huge challenge

Atkinson said: “It’s going to be a huge challenge, but it’s one I think we’re all relishing. In 2016 we cycled to all 20 Premier League grounds, which totalled around 1000 miles, so we’re really upping the ante for this one. We’ve been saying it’ll be 18 days of hurt, but it’s all for some brilliant charities, so we’re ready to go through that pain barrier! We want to raise as much money as we possibly can, so any donation, large or small would be gratefully received.”

You can keep up to date with the riders on their official Twitter handle @WhistleStopTour and you can donate on their website.

Pictures are from their previous tour.

Whistle Stop Tour at West Ham United Stadium


Whistle Stop Tour Southampton


World Cup 2018 referees

The World Cup 2018 referees are announced. Below you’ll find a list with all the referees. You’ll also find the names of the video referees below.

Referees media briefing

Want to be updated on the latest referee briefing? Check out what Pierluigi Collina says.

Referees have done a FIFA fitness test and are all ready for the World Cup. You also can download a pdf with the World Cup 2018 referees.

AFC referees (6)

Alireza  Faghani (Iran)
Ravshan Irmatov, Ravshan (Uzbekistan)
Mohammed Mohamed (United Arab Emirates)
Ryuji Sato (Japan)
Nawaf Shukralla (Bahrein)

CAF referees (6)

Mehdi Abid Charef (Algeria)
Malang Diedhiou (Senegal)
Bakary Gassama (Gambia)
Ghead Grisha (Egypt)
Janny Sikazwe (Zambia)
Bamlak Tessema (Ethiopia)

OFC referees (2)

Mattew Conger (New Zealand)
Norbert Hauata (Tahiti)

CONCACAF referees (6)

Joel Aguilar (El Salvador)
Mark Geiger (USA)
Jair Marrufo (USA)
Ricardo Montero  (Costa Rica)
John Piiti (Panama)
César Ramos (Mexico)

CONMEBOL referees (6)

Bascuñán, Julio (Chi)
Cáceres, Enrique (paar)
Cunha, Andrés (Uru)
Pitana, Nestor (Arg)
Ricci, Sandro (Bra)
Roldán, Wilmar (Col)

UEFA referees (10)

Felix Brych (Germany)
Cüneyt Çakır (Turkey)
Sergey Karasev (Russia)
Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)
Szymon Marciniak (Poland)
Milorad Mažić (Serbia)
Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)
Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
Clémet Turpin (France)

Video Assistant Referees

Abdulrahman Al Jassim (AFC, Qatar)

Wilton Sampaio (Conmebol, Brazil)
Gery Vargas (Conmebol, Bolivia)
Mauro Vigliano (Conmebol, Argentina)

Bastian Dankert (Uefa, Germany)
Artur Soares Dias (Uefa Portugal)
Paweł Gil (Uefa, Poland)

Massimiliano Irrati (Uefa, Italy)
Tiago Bruno Lopes Martins (Uefa, Portugal)
Danny Makkelie (Uefa, Netherlands)
Daniele Orsato (Uefa, Italy)
Paolo Valeri (Uefa, Italy)
Felix Zwayer (Uefa, Germany)
Referees World Cup 2018

Referee instructor’s certificate :-)

My road to become a referee instructor was great this season. Last Friday it reached it’s pinnacle when I got my certificate. I learned a lot from my fellow instructors and my pupils. Next season I will give courses on my own  and will continue be road to become an even better instructor.

New referee instructors

Our route as referee instructor

During the final course we have drawn our route. It started off with me and my baggage: experience as both player and referee plus the things I learned due to my blog.
Me and my baggage as referee
 It’s great to evaluate your qualities and the things you want to change. I will remain positive, keep smiling. My attitude will help to inspire new referees.
During next course I will try to be more proactive when approaching the referee mentors during the course. These mentors will watch every participant during four games, after which the new refs need to write their own reflections.

How to get pupils involved

But the biggest lesson is NOT answering questions. As I wrote in a previous blog post to be a lazy referee. The idea of learning by KNVB is that pupils learn the most when they have to come up with answers themselves. Because when they think and discuss about refereeing situations and come up with solutions, it will stick in their minds.
An example of what I did. A student asks about an indirect free kick when there is a foul without contact. Then I start making moves to explain a situation. What I could have done: ask the others who can help. It will start a good discussion.
From September I will give more courses. The road as referee instructor continues …
Road as referee instructor

Uefa men’s referee categories are released

The Uefa men’s referee categories 2018-2 are released. Lots of promotions this year. Bastien, Gil Manzano and Soares Dias will join the Elite referees. Six referees will climb up the ladder to group 1. Below you’ll find the full list.

Thanks to h_demboveac on Twitter and a publication on Law 5 – The Referee I can present you these new categories for UEFA referees, valid from 01/07/2018 until 31/12/2018.

Abuse towards referees needs to stop. Respect badge!


Aytekin, Bastien*, Brych, Çakır, Collum, Eriksson, Gil Manzano*, Hațegan, Karasov, Kassai, Královec, Kuipers, Makkelie, Marciniak, Mateu Lahoz, Mažić, Oliver, Orsato, Rocchi, Sidirópoulos, Soares Dias*, Skomina, Taylor, Turpin, Undiano Mallenco, Zwayer.

Category 1

Ağayev*, Aranovsʹkyy, Banti, Beaton, Bebek, Bezborodov, Blom, Bognár, Boyko, Buquet, del Cerro Grande, Delférière, Ekberg, Estrada Fernández, Gestranius, Gil, Göçek, Gözübüyük, Gräfe, Grinfeld, Jovanović*, Jug, Kabakov*, Kehlet, Kovács, Kružliak, Kulbakou, Lechner, Madden, Mažeika, Massa*, Mazzoleni, Moen, Nijhuis, Özkahya, Pawson*, Raczkowski, Schörgenhofer, Siebert*, Sousa, Stavrev, Stefański, Stieler, Strömbergsson, Treimanis, Vad, Vinčič, Welz, Yes’kov, Zelinka

Category 2

Abed, Al-Hakim*, Ardeleánu, Árnason, Attwell, Avram, Bieri, Boucaut, Brisard, Clancy, Colțescu, Costa Veríssimo*, Dabanović, Dallas, Dankert, de Burgos Bengoetxea, Delerue, Di Bello, Dingert, Doveri, Doyle, Drachta*Evans*, Farkas, Frankowski, Frischer*, Fritz, Glova*, Guida, Hansen, Harkam, Harvey*, Hernández Hernández, Higler*, Hunter, Irrati, Ivanov, Jaccottet, Jorgji, Jović, Kalkavan, Kalogeropoulos, Klossner, Komínis, Kráľovič, Kristoffersen, Kuchin, Lapochkin, Lardot, Letexier, Levnikov*, Lopes Martins, Maae*, Madley, Martínez Munuera, Mečkarovski, Meler*, Meshkov, Miguel, Millot, Munukka, Nevalainen, Nilsen, Palabıyık, Pandžić, Papapetrou*, Peljto, Petrescu, Popov, Rainville, Reinshreiber, Rumšas*, Sánchez Martínez, Sant, Schärer, Schneider, Schüttengruber, Shmuelevitz, Stoyanov, Þórarinsson*, Tierney, Tohver, Trattou, Tsynkevich, Tykgaard, Valeri, van Boekel, Vertenten, Xistra

Category 3

á Høvdanum, Aliyev, Andó-Szabó, Anufrijevs, Apostolov, Aretópoulos, Atazhanov, Balakin, Baliyan, Banari, Barbeno, Barcelo, Branco Godinho, Burchardt, Chinkov, Christofí, Dimitríou, do Nascimento Teixeira, Đokić, Durieux, Eskås, Farrugia Cann, Feșnic, Frid, Găman, Golubevs, Griffith, Grujić, Hagenes, Hamiti, Həsənov, Hennessy, Hjaltalín, Hovhannisyan, Jäger, Jakimovski, Jakubik, Järvinen, Kajtazovič, Kaluđerović, Karakó, Karlsson, Kasumi, Kennedy, Kjærsgaard, Kopriwa, Kozyk, Kristjánsson, Kruashvili,, Laforge, Lambrechts, Lukjančukas, Mántalos, Marhefka, Markham-Jones, Marshall, Masiás, Matyunin, McLaughlin, McNabb, Milačić, Muntean, Musiał, Nikolić, Nuza, Nyberg, Obrenovič, Očenáš, Orel, Pajač, Papadópoulos, Papir, Paşayev, Pejin,, Pires Martins, Poulsen, Příhoda, Proske, Robertson, Romanov, Saggi, Sakhi, San, Santos Capela, Schnyder, Šehović, Shcharbakou, Shurman, Silva Pinheiro, Steen, Strukan, Tarajev, Tean, Todorov, Troleis, Tschudi, Ulusoy, Vadachkoria, Viljanen, Vilkov, Visser, Walsh, Weinberger, Xhaja, Zammit, Zebec
* = Re-categorised

Esther Staubli: interview with a top class referee

Esther Staubli is one of the best female referees at the moment. I got the chance to ask her a few questions for my blog. She shares here experiences about refereeing at big tournaments, like World Cups, European finals and international games.

A great insight into professional refereeing. Interesting to see how much dedication and effort she puts into it.

Esther Staubli.

Esther Staubli. Photo: Uefa press release

The year 2017

First we go back to 2017, a big year for Esther Staubli. How was 2017 for you as a referee?

Esther Staubli: It was an amazing year that I never expected!

On Twitter I mentioned that I could ask you a few questions. I  – of course – want to know more about the u17 World Cup and a few readers ask something about that too. Bruce Bode asks: What was the most surprising/ unexpected thing about participating at U17WC? Arbitro Internacional asks: What are your experiences at the u17 WC?

Esther Staubli: It was already a big surprise for me and the other six women to be selected as fouth officials for the u17 World Cup in India. Nothing was planned and I even had to cancel a trip to Sicilia which I had offered my mother for her 70th birthday.

Unique refereeing moment

You are a fourth official during the tournament in India first. Then you get an appointment for Japan vs New Caledonia. A unique moment in history. How did you hear it and how did you experience the game?

Esther Staubli: My role at the tournament was clear. I was a fourth official and my goal was to support my male referee colleagues as much as possible. In the morning after breakfast FIFA always presented the appointments for the next days and it really was a big surprise to hear my name as a referee in this meeting.

I tried to take the match just as a normal appointment but of course it was a special moment go onto the pitch to referee this match, also because of the special weather conditions in India. But once the game started I was just a referee in the middle of a football game and nobody really cared if it was a man or a woman officiating.

Esther Staubli and team

Esther Staubli and team. Photo: Sportsfile from Uefa press release

Working with Anthony Taylor’s AR’s

In that game you work with Adam Nunn and Gary Beswick, both assisting Anthony Taylor a lot. They officiated plenty of games together. How is the chemistry in a mixed refereeing team?

Esther Staubli: They supported me really great and also Anthony who “lent me” his assistants was very supportive. It was a great chance for me to work with such experienced Assistant Referees who normally do games in premier league. I really liked their positive attitude very much and the spirit in our mixed team was great.

Officials from different countries

The u17 tournament officials are new for you. In the Women’s Euro final you work with Belinda Brem, also from Switzerland, but also with Sanja Rodjak Karšić from Croatia. How is it to work with referees you’ve never worked with before?

Esther Staubli: During the preparation for the Euro I invited Sanja to Switzerland for a friendly game and we spent some days together. Furthermore, UEFA appointed our Euro team also for a women’s champions league semi-final in France. For me it was very important to have the games and these days we spent together as a preparation for the Euro.

Generally, I like to work with different AR’s and in Europe we have quite a large group of assistants on a really good level. Still it is very important to prepare a big tournament like the Euro carefully. There are so many small details to discuss before to be able to work as best as possible together.

Euro 2017 final in The Netherlands

How did you experience the Euro 2017 final in The Netherlands?

Esther Staubli: It was a fantastic publicity for women’s football as both teams showed a great match in the final. Once the match started it was for me again a game as others and just after the final whistle I really realized it was something very special we just had.

Finally, it was also a great pay back for all the hard work we did in the last years and for all the efforts and sacrifices needed in these years to reach this goal in the end.

I was of course a fan of the Dutch ladies, but as always keep an eye out for the refereeing team. Great non-offside call at the Danish equaliser in the final. How important is it for a refereeing team to make these big calls correctly?

Esther Staubli: There is a lot of training and experience behind such a call. We do our games, we do practical exercises with players, a lot of analyses and discussions to be ready for this important call in a crucial situation. I think that’s what happened here. The correct decision in the final is just the result of the hard work we do before.

Former player becomes ref

Back to the start of your career. How did you become a referee?

Esther Staubli: I played in the women’s top division in Switzerland, but I knew my technical skills will never bring me to the national team. I was more a physical player. Because I love football so much I looked for something else in football and ended up as a referee. With refereeing I found a great new passion.

In a previous interview you say that you are not not proud of the number of yellow and red cards you got during your career. What kind of player were you and how does it help you as a referee?

Esther Staubli: I was a fighter on the pitch and I liked physical play. But for me fair play was also always important. Today it helps a lot that I played football. It helps to read the game. and because I was an emotional player I understand some reactions of players better. It makes it easier to find an appropriate way to communicate with players on the pitch.

Refereeing in Switzerland

In 2014 you made your debut in the Challenge League, the second level. What are your chances of reaching the Super League in Switzerland?

Esther Staubli: I never ask for something and I am happy what I get. I think as referees we should enjoy the games we do instead of thinking about games we don’t get. I still work hard to improve and I love still love refereeing so we will see what future still brings …

How is it for you to combine refereeing at a high level with a job at an agricultural school and a private life? What does a typical week for you look like? (any chances to become a professional referee? How much time do you spent on refereeing/training?)

Esther Staubli: At the moment I work 50% as a teacher. My school is very tolerant and supports me very much. I cannot make a living from refereeing and at the moment there is no possibility to become a professional referee in Switzerland.

Flexible job

Because we have a quite flexible system at my school I don’t have to teach every week the same number of lessons. I always try not to work one month before a big tournament an on the other hand I teach a lot when there are no games. I also reduce before a seminar or international matches. For example, I spent this winter 3 week in the south part of Europe in training camps. In a normal week I train about 2 hours every day. Each week I have twice a strength session with a personal coach and the rest of the time I try to do different trainings like spinning, speed, high intensity, agility or just playing squash. Furthermore, I have each week one hour of massage and often I go to the sauna after the gym.

Also football is not missed during the week. I like to watch Europa League and Champions League games. And to prepare my matches I also watch a lot of women’s games on wyscout. That’s also a great possibility to see national women’s competitions all over the world.

Looking at the future

Ata Dizdar wants to know: How long do you think it will be before we see a woman referee officiating a major derby or a major European match?

Esther Staubli: This is difficult to say. It was great that seven women had already the opportunity to participate in the u17 World Cup in India. But also every year the courses with the male elite referees are great opportunities. We can benefit a lot from these courses. So we will see what the future brings …

What are the challenges for female referees and are they different than the challenges for male referees?

Esther Staubli: In my first match in men’s professional football there were two spectators who started discussing after 60 minutes when they realized the referee was a woman (a friend sitting in the tribune told me after the match). So it doesn’t really seem to matter if you are a woman or a man. For me it’s just about performance and not about gender. Of course men are able to sprint faster but if a woman is able to read the game better she can equalize this fact.

Setting goals as referee

What are your personal goals for the future? How important is it to set goals and what do you do to reach them?

Esther Staubli: It is always important to have goals. Then you know why you are working so hard every day. But we should never lose the passion for refereeing. When the day comes where I don’t feel the passion anymore or when the day comes where I do the perfect match and can’t improve any more, I will immediately stop my career. But at the moment the fire is still burning as much as in the beginning. 2019 there will be the World Cup in France. This is of course my next goal. But you never know. I learned in the past that health is the most important and success always comes from hard work. So I keep working hard and hope to stay healthy.

Want to know more about goal-setting? Some great tips for your refereeing career.

3 tips for (young) referees

If you must give a young referee (a reader of my blog) three tips, what would you advise him/her and why?

  1. Work hard and enjoy refereeing. Then the day will to be rewarded will come.
  2. Try to reach Mount Everest and not just any hill. Of course in refereeing Mount Everest may be different for each person. Just find your personal Mount Everest and the view from there will be great.
  3. Be happy and enjoy every game you get. Don’t think about or ask for other matches.

Laws of the Game Quiz: best of 2017-2018

The final Laws of the Game Quiz of the 2017-2018 season. It contains the most difficult questions since January. Can you score 5 out of 5?

it will be easy for you to receive an e-mail notification when the new quiz season starts. Just one e-mail after the quiz is published. It’s up to you if you subscribe for that e-mail. Hope to see you again next year.

Refereeing a title clash

Refereeing a title clash is one of the biggest challenges for match officials. These games are crucial for teams, but also great experiences for referees. Dutch referee Dennis Higler officiated last season’s title clash in The Netherlands. He shares his tips for you on my blog.

Referee Dennis Higler about refereeing a title clash

“Normally the appointments are released on Tuesdays”, says Higler. “But for refereeing a title clash I got a message on Monday. They added: there’s pressure on this game.” And there was, because Feyenoord lost their game in the previous week. It was now or never for them, after years with title.

Take time for match preparation

Prepare yourself well as referees. If possible, look how the teams play. Who’s in the starting line-up? Don’t be prejudiced, but know what to expect.  A good preparation helps you realise what is at stake. Has the team lost during the previous week or not?

Be on time

Being on time is part of a good match preparation, but now on the matchday itself. “Because it is a tittle clash, people will arrive on time. It will be busy. We were at least two hours in advance in the stadium.”

And eventhough you might not referee in a stadium, there will me more fans than normally. Make sure you are on time and can park your car.

Get your team in the right mode

Make sure you do things as a team before the game. Make good arrangements and stress the importance of refereeing a title clash. Higlers makes sure his team is in a focused mode. “I tell them the people are not going to talk about us.”

Take time to feel the atmosphere

“At 1 o’clock the stadium was filled, which is one and half hour before the game.You see grown-up men crying already.  Based on everything you feel the importance.” Higler puts up Fox Sports in the dressing room to get a feeling of the atmosphere.

You can’t do the latter in all amateur games, but take time to walk around the pitch. Absorbing the atmosphere before the game is much appreciated. Get the new impressions then and you won’t be surprised at the start.

Don’t change your refereeing routines

“Even when you’re refereeing a title clash, go onto the pitch for a warming-up as normal. Do what you always do”, says Higler. “Don’t change the line-up or toss routines you have. You also need to be yourself at amateur level. Don’t do weird things because it’s a title clash.”

Focus from the start

“You need to have a 100% focus from the start”, says Higler. His advice is to stay in control from the start. “Sometimes safe refereeing is better. Whistle for fouls, don’t  wait for advantages and take the risk it doesn’t work out the way you expect.”

“I knew that Feyenoord’s previous game was 0-0 until the 70th minute. Then the tension rises. In my title clash Feyenoord scores very quickly. Then the pressure is off.”

That is not always the case, so be prepared to focus for a whole game. How to do that? Check out 7 tip to stay focused for 90 minutes.

Dennis Higler and me