Documentary Kill the referee (with English subtitles)

The documentary Kill the referee is published online and English subtitles are added as well. Now we’re all at home in lockdown, this documentary is a great thing to watch.  

When it released I’ve written a newspaper story for it. I’ve updated that, because that makes it more relevant. You can also find the full clip below.

Massimo Busacca: we are not gods

Referee Massimo Busacca squatted on the ground. He takes a quiet moment for himself in preparation of the match Sweden versus Greece at the 2008 European Championship in Austria and Switzerland, his home country.

There’s a rosary on the table in the dressing room. Busacca makes the cross sign, he’s ready for it. Together with is assistants he leaves the quietness of the changing room to deliver a good performance with roaring crowds in the stadium.

This intimate moment from the movie Kill the referee (originally produced as Les Arbitres) shows the human aspects of the referees. And that’s exactly what Uefa aims with this documentary. The European soccer association and their referee committee want to show that the top referees are normal people who prepare professionally and they want to set a quality performance.

In regular sport broadcasts the players get full attention. But when a referee’s name is in the pages of the newspapers or on the tv programmes, there’s a big chance he made a mistake. Two recent examples are the mistakes by Roberto Rosetti (offside Tevez) and Jorge Larrionda (goal Lampard) in the matches for a spot in the quarter finals at this World Cup in South Africa.

Full video of Kill the referee

The video is on YouTube. Make sure you put English subtitles on via menu in YouTube player.

The film is a unique documentary, because the football fans never got such a personal insight in the life of professional referees. Producer Jean Libon got access to the dressing room, the hotels and family meetings. His camera team was even able to film the family of the referees at home, who were shown as the greatest supporters of their husband, father or son.

Professional approach towards referees

“This openness from Uefa shows their professional approach towards referees”, says Jaap Uilenberg, former international referee and at this moment member of Uefa’s referee committee. “An interview wit a referee was not done a few years ago.” He stressed that the Dutch FA is more open since a few years ago when they get such requests.

In many European countries there is criticism about the invisible wall between referees and others. Because coaches, players and supporters get no insight into the refereeing business. For example England, where Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger openly criticised the FA. In that period of the release (2010) he wants more openness about the referee appointments.

What you see these days, in 2020 and further, is that referee departments are more open. PRO referees recently did live Q&A sessions on YouTube, which resulted in these tips by Alan Kelly. And there are many more examples, luckily.

Referees are normal human beings

Kill the referee is a start to present the referees with an open approach. “Inside the referee committee we’ve extensively discussed how to handle this”, mentioned Uilenberg. “This movie shows that the referee is also a top sportsman. And a normal human being.” The documentary shows that all referees, like each soccer team and all fans, look forward to reaching the final. “For young referees the movie can be a motivation to strive to such a goal.”

Howard Webb during Euro 2008. Shot from the movie Kill the referee

Uilenberg is also acting in Kill the referee. He’s guiding, mentoring and judging Howard Webb in the match between Austria and Poland. Because of awarding a penalty kick in the last minute against Poland he gets death threats. The then Polish president Lech Kascynski, makes it more worse after that. Because that man was very negative about the referee in the worldwide media.

NB: Uefa did not blame Webb for awarding a (wrong) penalty kick. But there was a different reason to sent him home. That was because of an offside goal which was not seen by Webb’s assistant.

The effect of a referee decision

Uilenberg was very clear back in 2010. “The only thing you can do against the behavior of such people is to take care of the safety of the referee and his family back home.” He shows his aversion of people who call themselves fans, but really aren’t by threatening referees. “The boundaries are shifted according to many years ago. But when the producer can show such reactions, the movie gives a good representation of the life of modern refereeing.”

This documentary illustrates perfectly how important such a big tournament is for some fans and players. A wrong call of the referee can have enormous effects. The movie gives the man in black a human character, who actually can make mistakes. Busacca shows that in a touching way in his reaction to protesting players. “We are no gods, we make mistakes.” When his match is finished he makes the cross sign, and looks up to heaven.

Inside No. 9 – The Referee’s a w***er

Inside No. 9 – The Referee’s a w***er. Just some fun to watch, aired on the BBC in 2020. But although it’s not a real-life documentary, it gives you some interesting insights. 

You’ll see experienced refs who keeps talking about his heyday, interesting match preparation and appearance and referees who have difficulties keeping his authority. Probably you’ll get something out of it – besides a good laugh! 

Screenshot from referee in series Inside No. 9
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The Referees – Onside with Carragher and Neville

The Referees – Onside with Carragher and Neville. Have you seen it already on tv? There’s a video now on DailyMotion that you should watch for sure.

The documentary gives a wonderful insight into refereeing at Premier League level.

Video of The Referees – Onside with Carragher and Neville

Here’s the documentary. Please share your thoughts about it below in the comments.


The Referees – Onside with Carragher & Neville door paulbrooks_is

How is it to be an MLS Referee

Ever wondered how it is to be an MLS Referee? Nice documentary from Daltonic Films with behind the scenes footage.

Do you want to become a professional referee?

Day in the life of top referee Xavier Estrada Fernandez

Day in life of Xavier Estrada Fernandez
Uefa filmed a day in the life of top referee Xavier Estrada Fernandez. He is one of the referees at the u21 European Championships being held in the Czech Republic. “We are priviliged men that we can do such a fantastic job.”

A great way to show how a referee experiences a match day. Xavier Estrada Fernandez wakes up at 7 in the morning for breakfast. He also fills out a daily questionnaire about their fitness and does a mental check on the iPad.

He and his team went to the train station and took the train to Olomouc. There he is in a private cabin where he can talk with team members about team tactics. “It’s so important to talk about that because it puts the focus on the field of play”, Xavier Estrada Fernandez says.

Xavier Estrada Fernandez arriving at the stadium

When arriving at the stadium the first thin the team does is going to the dressing room. They check the tools for the match there, like the flags and communication systems. Warming-up before the game is about half an hour. “It’s not only important for players, also for referees”

You can see the team active during the game. Xavier Estrada Fernandez: “You need good teamwork to make the match a success.”

Check out the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEplAy8Q8P4

How are your match days? How long before a game do you leave your house and when are you back?

Martin Hansson documentary Rättskiparen

Cover of dvd with Martin Hansson documentary.

Wonderful Martin Hansson documentary called Rättskiparen about the Swedish top football referee. A Swedish documentary of half an hour which you should see as a football match official.

In the summer break tv section I’ll be linking to interesting refereeing documentaries. Suggestions are welcome.

So how this story goes? A description of The Documentary Network: “Top football referee Martin Hansson had a successful journey towards his vision in life, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Then one dark night in Paris on November 18th, 2009, all hell broke loose…”

Check out his dramatic road to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The Referee | Rättskiparen [2010] from Freedom From Choice AB. on Vimeo.

PS: if you’ve nice documentaries for this section, just comment of send me an message on Twitter or Facebook.

Saime Akar: How a woman from conservative southeast Turkey became a referee

The story of Saime Akar is the story of how a woman from conservative southeast Turkey became the first professional referee from her region. The 25-year-old referee is ambitious and wants to reach the Turkish Super League as a referee.

She’s working hard to achieve that in the men’s world of eastern Turkey. “I’m not afraid of the players taking me seriously or even insulting me”, she told European Journal from Deutche Welle. Saime Akar is the first licensed female referee in eastern Turkey. She was born in a town close to the Iranian border. Akar went to university and is now back in her region as gym teacher in a neighbouring city.

The documentary I embedded below shows some skeptical men in in the stands when she’s referee a 2nd Division game in her hometown. Near the eastern border of Turkey, people are very conservative and not used to women leading a football game or making decisions. In the video you’ll see a young kid who says that he’ll never allow his mother or sister to be amongst 22 men on a football pitch.

Akar is a role model for females in that part of Turkey. Not many women are out on the streets in that region. Most of them stay at home and be a housewife. A friend of her, Reyhan Bercelan, supports her. “Why shouldn’t women referee men’s matches? Ofcourse they can!”

Akar’s father never dreamed she’d be a referee one day. But as little girl she was very active. Her father never forbid her to do things men usually do. “We supported her.”

Watch the interesting documentary in English about Saime Akar.