Referee Ali Sabbagh from Lebanon works hard to get to the World Cup in Brazil. Then he would become the first center referee from his country to achieve that.
An interview with 33-year old referee Ali Sabbagh by the Dutch Referee Blog. He’s a Fifa referee since 2008.
I read on WorldReferee.com you were a runner. Did you play football yourself?
“Yes, I played football myself. Before I was a runner I played football with many small teams in my city and also in school.”How did you become a referee?
“In 2000 I was studying Physical Education at university and one of my friends he tells the federation that he wants to be a referee. The federation told him that he must bring at least 15 names to make a tournament and exams for refereeing possible. So he puts all the names of the teachers – including me of course. After I went to the tournament and passed all the exams, including the cooper test (the old one = 12 minutes running), the federation accepted me as a new referee.”
Do you think a good referee does need to have experience as a player?
“I think it’s better for a referee to play football before he thinks about being a referee, because this helps him to feel and read the game.”
How is refereeing in Lebanon?
“The refereeing in Lebanon is not bad, but we are not like Europe. The games are difficult and the players don’t know anything about the rules of the game. Most of them did not have any sportive culture, the majority of them does not respect the refereeing teams. They think that we are only coming to make them loose. Also, the facilitiesare medium: not good, but not bad either.”
How good is the quality compared with other countries in the region?
“Let me tell you that refereeing is not the same in the countries in my region, because there are some countries that have all the facilities: a strong referees department, good instructors, refereeing materials, like electronic flags, communication systems and other stuff.”
Haidar Koleit was the only World Cup (assistant) referee from Lebanon. When do you expect there will be a Libanese center referee? How is the Lebanese FA improving refereeing?
“Now I am 34 years and here in Lebanon all the people say that I will go to the World Cup because of my performance and my development. So I hope that they’re right, because our federation works hard to improve refereeing. It arranges many refereeing courses and some of them are from Fifa. The fitness training is excellent and there are many practical session during the year. ”
What are your refereeing goals?
“My goal is to go to the World Cup so I am working hard – in a good way – to achieve it.”