Welcome on DutchReferee.com

Dear readers,

I’ve just created a new account for my blog: DutchReferee.com. It gives me more possibilities to add special features to my blogs. This means this is the last post on this address. All interviews and articles will be published here from now on. I hope you’ll keep enjoying them, as well as the video’s I post along with them.

In the next weeks I can promise you an interview with a Belgian top referee in futsal and football (yeah, it’s the same person), a Dutch referee about his experiences in the US in comparison with European officiating. Later today I’ll post a nice refereeing cartoon, made this week by @panaManga.

When you have article suggestions or tips for my blog, don’t hesitate to send me a message via @DutchReferee on Twitter or via e-mail on dutchreferee at gmail.com. Please mention bugs to me, because maybe not everything works fine yet.

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Wish you all the best from The Netherlands,

‘99.9 percent of managers are well behaved’

“Personally I’d like to see the use of technology for goal line incidents only”, says Darren Handley, Footall League assistant referee.

Second part of the interview, written by Dave Humphreys. Read also the first part.

So, thinking about all the initiatives to try and improve refereeing standard, would you be in favour of video technology or the UEFA implemented additional assistants?

Photo by refworld.com

*Chuckles* “It’s a massive, massive topic; it’s in the media 24-7. It’s a huge, huge area, what’s black is black, what’s white is white and currently as we state. Personally I’d like to see the use of technology for goal line incidents only. The difficultly you have with video technology is once it’s implemented for goal line decisions, we’re all in the game for more goals and more adrenaline for the game, spectators thriving off goals.”

“The difficulty comes certainly in the Premier League and Football League, clubs and managers will expect and anticipate video tech to be used for offside decisions, for throw ins, free kicks and across the FOP and if we’re not careful we could find ourselves in a position where we are with Rugby where it’s stop start, stop start and that isn’t a game of football for me to referee, I wouldn’t like to be involved in games to be stop start, stop start, I much prefer the system as it is now where it’s free kick, give, go, game starts again.”

“I think as time goes by, who knows? The more debate and research that goes into the use of video technology, we certainly get a DVD after most games as a Referee and all key match incidents, for example penalty kicks, sending offs, goals scored are reviewed by the match assessor through the DVD, so that’s currently in operation at this moment in time across the network of referees down to level 2 – Conference.”

What do you make of the additional assistants? How would you feel if you got the call to go and stand on the touchline on a freezing cold ground in Burnley? What do you make of what UEFA have done with these additional assistants?

“Again, I think it’s an interesting way forward, certainly UEFA’s point of view for European games, we’re talking a worldwide audience that are watching those games and it adds to credibility of decisions and if we can use the extra officials that are available it can enhance major decisions within a penalty area where most of the action is seen.”

“In terms of myself going to a Football League game and being asked to stand behind a goal, if it helps and promotes the game in the Football League and supports a major decision, then yes I’d be more than willing to. However the cost implications are massive and we’re in a world recession and clubs cannot afford to putting in 6 officials on a match day, the Football League are just about coping to cover 4 officials on the day at the moment.”

Moving on, you mentioned the Football League, what are the managers really like? Are they really as much as a pain as they look when you’re watching matches on the TV?

“I think from a personal point of view, I haven’t had a problem, touch wood, with managers and I think 99.9% are well behaved and hold respect towards you. But as you know and I know, in football it can get heated, it might be a decision where a player has been sent off or a penalty appeal has gone against you, the managers do get frustrated. I think the issue has come, where the media jump on every single negative comment and are quick to highlight managers belittling officials and it sells newspapers, sells stories and it’s all the bigger picture for the TV and promote that because it gets more viewers for them.”

What have been your highlights as a Football League official?

“There’s been quite a few throughout my career. The one that stands to mind is my first Sky game as an Assistant Referee, to be involved in a Sky live game is a fantastic experience having never previously being involved in one and I was lucky enough to, in my second or third season, be involved in a live game.”

“The build up to a game, the anticipation, the Sky TV cameras are there, the kick off time changes to 5.15 or 12.45 and the whole euphoria being involved in Sky TV to a world audience does sort of like, make you think a little bit more and tune you in a little bit more knowing your little child is at home watching you on TV. As Referee in 2005 I was appointed to the English Schools FA International match, England v N. Ireland U-18s. This was a fantastic experience and to line up with the National Anthem being played out as the teams lined up was quite emotional for me.”

What’s the camaraderie like amongst a team of officials? I’ve seen the appointments on the website are you kept in teams to maintain that sense of a team or is it a case of familiarity breeds contempt?

“We do get the opportunity to work with most of the National List referees, the refs and assistants are appointed on Monday with a list of fixtures by email. We don’t work regularly in teams, certainly on the Football League, so there is a good variety. The assistant referees are regionalised from 100 miles from home, National list referees can travel the length and breadth of the country.”

‘Refereeing is becoming more and more demanding’

“Refereeing at high level is becoming more and more demanding”, says Darren Handley, Football League assistant referee.

Interview written by Dave Humphreys.

Darren, can you tell me how you got into refereeing and gone on to achieve your status as a Football League assistant referee?

Photo by refworld.com

“I started at the age of 14, I played local football for junior teams for my father, he was a referee, I struggled to play to a high level week in week out, he said why don’t you try refereeing? So I signed to do a couple of lines when he was refereeing. Then at the age of 14 I refereed my first ever game at under 10s level on a Saturday morning, from there I progressed through the local Sunday league football in Bolton, the Boys Federation which was a very strong league at that time.”

“Then at the age of 16 moved into open-age football, again in a local Sunday league and on Saturday afternoons as an assistant referee, where I obtained my level two status, the old class one – level 5. I was promoted to the West Lancashire League as a referee; I spent 5 years as a referee, obtained promotion to the North West counties panel of referees, where I spent 2 seasons as a referee before being promoted to the National List of Assistants. I then spent a further 2 seasons as a referee on the NW counties league and I was promoted to the Panel list of officials, which is the current level two and operates on a national level. It incorporates refereeing on the Barclays Premier League reserve games, Football League Pontins fixtures and the Blue Square Conference.”

So could you highlight to me what a day is like as part of a, Football League assistant referee, because you look at the players these days and they go through , the whole, they do it all through the week, the whole fitness and training then on match days, is it similar as part of a Football League officiating team?

“As an official, it is classed a hobby but its becoming more and more like a job, we certainly have more demands compared to 10 seasons ago. We train regular and have to download our data and send it into the sports scientists at the Football League on a fortnightly basis.”

“The training sessions we do are quite demanding, we are training in parallel with the professionals just not as many hours as the footballers are doing in preparation for match day on a Saturday, baring in mind some weeks it’s difficult because of mid week fixtures so we might only get the one training session as well as the fixture but the demands of the sessions and the time consumed, travelling to and from, fitting in with family time, it’s becoming more and more demanding. You need a number of key skills such as fitness, co-ordination, speed but most important you need to remain calm and focused when under pressure.”

Looking across the whole game, what is your view of the Respect campaign? Obviously it’s implemented by the FA nationally across the game, would you say it’s more so to appease the top level game rather than the lowers levels? I know in my experiences as a local parks referee in Liverpool you could almost say it doesn’t exist because we feel that just a rope, either side of a park doesn’t really stop angry people coming on, players approaching referees, getting in the faces of referees. What would your opinion be of the Respect campaign?

“I think the Respect campaign has had massive, massive impacts on not only the national game, but the local game. Personally, I’m not as involved in the local leagues as I’d like to be because of my position as a level 2 referee, but certainly going looking round at local parks games when I get an opportunity, players now seem to show more respect to some referees than they did 5 years ago and it does come from the attitude of some of the players at the higher levels.”

“The Premier League every week, through Sky, TV, radio, advocate the Respect campaign, the Referees do their upmost through handshakes before the game, meet and greet an hour before kick off with team sheets exchanged, again it’s handshakes all round, we try and promote as much as we can.”

“The only thing that’s difficult at local level is the handshake that signifies the Respect at the beginning of the game that the TV audience see, isn’t seen at local level. I personally think we should be trying to, through county FAs and the FA, try to promote clubs to do the handshake signals before the games. Some leagues do operate it, but it does come down to the actual league directive whether they wish to do it or not.”

Read the second part of the interview next monday on the Dutch Referee Blog.

Discipline and sacrifice brought Carlos Simon 3 WC’s

Carlos Eugenio Simon in action. Photo from Simon's Twitter

Referee Carlos Eugenio Simon is preparing to hang up his whistle at the end of the season. He’s mentioned as a candidate for Minister of Sport in his counrtry Brazil and perhaps will engage in political life in the near future.

Written by Valdir Bicudo, a befriended Brazilian journalist and referee commentator at Parana Online.
Simon was the Brazilian representative in the last three World Cups. He’s, as a well-known referee, adored by many and opposed by many other fans. In an interview with Parana Online, Simon speaks about all the years in his career, the experience gained over time, analyzes the current arbitration in Brazil and abroad, and comments on the need for professionalization of refereeing and the changes that may revolutionize the role of the officials on the field and football as a whole.

Carlos Eugenio Simon graduated in journalism and wrote the book Na Diagonal do Campo (On the diagonal of the field) about the rules of the game and the routine of an referee. In addition to three World Cups, Simon also officiated four finals of the Brazilian Championship, five cup finals in Brazil and another one of the Copa Libertadores and the World Cup for Clubs, which will be held again December of this year.

You are the most important Brazilian referee these days. What is the feeling of having participated in three World Cups, a milestone in Brazilian arbitration?
Carlos Eugenio Simon: “The feeling of participating in a World Cup is wonderful – think of three. All of this is the result of much discipline, sacrifice and determination. It is worth noting the importance of family support, referees, assistants and friends.”

Why did the referees and linesmen during the recent World Cup in South Africa make mistakes to such an extent, even though the selection process was considered unprecedented by Fifa when it comes to arbitration?
“Most of the decisions were correct. There were a few mistakes, but fallibilityis part of being human. I think referees and assistants did proper training and preparation. A process which is progressing.”

Why were you and your assistants Altermir Hausmann and Roberto Braatz, although you’ve all done an excellent job, not scheduled in most games?
“We did our part, which was coming to South Africa on and work competently. We worked on two sets which had great magnitude and were praised by everyone – the committee, instructors, colleagues and the press. We are referees and are not responsible for scales.

What is the influence of the media on the work of the referee in Brazil, South America and the world?
“Some in the media world knows or has worked in the arbitration, but the majority knows very little of this activity.”

Are you in favor of the professionalization of arbitration in its entirety or only for the major competitions? In Brazil, there are conditions for the professionalisation of football referee?
“It’s the only way I see it. Football has long ago turned into a big business and the referee remains ‘amateur’. I’ve always defended and will continue to support the professionalization of refereeing.”

What o you think of the implementation of two more assistants behind the goal?
“From what I’ve read and heard so far, I am in favor. I think these introduction of these AR’s will help a lot, yes.”

How do see the use of technology in football?
“The chip in the ball would be one solution, for example in WC situations in games of England and Germany, where the ball crossed the goal line completely for 33 inches and cannot be seen with the naked eye by arbitration. I support a chip in the ball. What do not favor is to stop play and look at the replay. ”

What about the suffering of the referees and assistants when their performance is shown with 32 television camera’s?
“As I wrote earlier, the emotions and pressures are strong in football and we need support from psychologists, coaches, instructors, body language. All this to ease the tension.”

Isn’t the use of high technology versus a referee who has only two eyes unfair?
“It may be unfair, but we live in an age of technology. But the mathematics of arbitrage is also unfair. If you whistle ten games and make a mistake in one, is it that one they remember. The official takes on average about 150 decisions in a game and hits most, but there’s a debate that he is wrong. ”

You leave the FIFA because of the age limit of 45 years. Which Brazilian referee will succeed you?“The Brazilian Arbitration is competent and have referees who may well succeed me.”

What are your projects after you’ll stop?
“For now I do not think much about it. I want to finish my career in full physical, technical and psychological strength.”

This guest blog is translated from Portugese. Mistranslations are my bad, but you can find the original text on Bicudo’s blog. I’m very happy we could exchange copy for our blogs. If you have a good idea for a guest blog, you are more than welcome.

Read also other articles from Valdir Bicudo on the Dutch Referee Blog.

Golden medal for the referees at the World Cup

Unlike goalies and the Jabulani ball, the referees are going unnoticed at the World Cup.

Written by Valdir Bicudo, a befriended Brazilian journalist and referee commentator at Parana Online. It’s his round-up after the first round at this World Cup.

Logo of Bicudo's blog De olho no apito

In an interview with Fifa spokesman Nicolaz Maingot last Tuesday, when he traveled between Pretoria and Johannesburg, told that the performance of referees and assistants in the early matches of World Cup in South Africa were highly impressive.

According to Maingot, Fifa, the entity that handles the football on the planet, has done efforts as never showed before to improve arbitration at the World Cup. For example the implementation of fixed arbitration trios from the same country, who are talking the same language and, thus, decreasing misconceptions within the field.

Fifa is proud because there are no problems with the performance of the officials, said the spokesman, especially because no one’s talking about the officials and everything is going smoothly.

Unlike the goalkeepers, who are failing in some games, and the Jabulani (the name of the ball in the World Cup, vb), which is said to have severe restrictions. But until the present moment the referees are accepted, despite they’ve already given four red cards, which means a average of 0.4 cards per game.

Noting the majority of matches this World Cup Soccer, I found that a several factors were essential for the optimal development of the referees. Their self-control reaches perfection and that helps a lot with making decisions on the field in the different situations during the matches.

I have noticed that both referees and assistants are keeping a grip on themselves. Not that long ago I noticed a relentless attitude when they officiated in Fifa competitions. This change is the work of Werner Helsen, a professor at the University Louvre (Belgium) who trained the referees from Fifa and Uefa.

In the case of assistants, who are delegated the very difficult task to mark the obstruction, I must say they make good calls. In addition to that, I’d like to stress that the teamwork, the positioning of the assistants and the integration among the members of the refereeing team is very good. These results are even more promising for the second stage of the world, with a marked increase in the quality of refereeing ..

What also should be noted is the magnificent work done by the Spanish professor Jose Maria Garcia Aranda, who’s responsible for technical preparation of the arbitration, and furthermore for his influence in displaying representative trio’s in a competition with the magnitude of a World Cup.

PS: Ravshan Irmatov (Fifa-Uzbekistan) and Carlos Eugenio Simon (Fifa-Brazil) showed, until the beginning of the second inning, the best performance in decision-making in the field of play. The hit rate of both exceeded 93% in the games that they worked.

This guest blog is translated from Portugese. Mistranslations are my bad, but you can find the original text on Bicudo’s blog. I’m very happy we could exchange copy for our blogs. If you have a good idea for a guest blog, you are more than welcome.