Donatas Rumšas changes jobs to get more time for refereeing

2017 is a great year for Donatas Rumšas so far. The Lithuanian referee gets great news earlier this year. He will go to the u17 European Championships in Croatia. “For me it was a big suprise to be selected”. Donatas Rumšas shares his experiences from this tournament. Plus he also talks about something that possibly is the best step in his refereeing career. He changes his job to have more time available for refereeing.

Congratulations with your appointment for the u17 European Championship earlier this year. How did you experience the tournament?

The impressions from the tournament was very good. We spent there  almost 3 weeks with the referees from all over the Europe. There we had a lot of training sessions, matches to referee and game analysis. It was very nice to share experiences with colleagues from other countries. I can say that those three weeks gave me a lot of as referee and as a person. It was a busy month but I enjoyed the time in Croatia.

Every referee can improve

What did you do to reach the tournament?

To be honest what I did exactly to get there I don’t know.  I had a quite good season before the tournament and I got an invitation for the U-17 final tournament in Croatia. For me it was a big suprise. I did not expect this appointment. I train 5-6 times per week. There are a lot of things to improve for every referee, but now I focus on management of players. And I also work on my personality.

Referee Donatas Rumšas

Referee Donatas Rumšas. Photo provided by referee.

You’ve officiated 4 games, including a quarter final. You’ve worked with assistant referees from Northern Ireland, Russia, Armenia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Wales, Kazakhstan and Israel. How is it to work with a different team for all matches? 

It was very interesting experience for me, because in Lithuania I used to work with more or less the same assistants. In this tournament all the referees and assistant referees have a lot of expierence, so to work with them was a pleasure for me. I have prepared the standard pre-match discussion for this tournament. In this talk are all the main things what I expect from my team.

Refereeing with people from different countries probably gives you nice insights in their way of preparing and officiating. What are the best things you learned from them?

For me the best thing was that I had an opportunity to see how different referees prepare for the game. I found how accurately they are assessing their games, so I will try to implement this component for myself.

How Donatas Rumšas became a referee

Back to the start of your career. How did you get involved in refereeing? 

I started to referee in 2006. I was playing in local city youth team and my coach asked me if I want to try to referee few games. From the first game I like it and till now I am enjoying refereeing very much.

What do you like about refereeing so much and have you ever thought of quitting this hobby?

I like refereeing so much because every game is a different. You never know what will happen in your next match and you have to try to do the best you can. Till now I have never thought about quitting refereeing.

Get more time for refereeing

What’s the hardest challenge/problem you faced during your career? And how did you solve it?

The hardest problem for me was to synchronize the job and the refereeing about five years ago. I had to work long hours in that job and quality of refereeing started to decrease. So I left from that job and found another one, which let me spend more time for refereeing.

You’re already in the middle of the season. Is that an advantage for you now the Europa League starts again? (and how difficult is it to referee a game when there’s no season in your country?)

I think it is a great advantage for us because we have a lot of games and we are prepared well. But it is also a disadvantage for the second part of the Europe’s season because we are at the preparation stage at that time. So it is very hard to referee.

What do you expect for the rest of this season? 

This year is also quite good for me, so it would be very nice to keep the high level of refereeing till the end of the season. I am working day by day to be better than I was yesterday and I think there is no soldier who don’t want to be a general.

What are the best 3 tips you ever got that made you a better referee

  1. Believe in yourself – you are a good referee;
  2. Work hard – that is necessary to achieve your goals;
  3. Be patient – nothing happens in one day.

Sohail Asghar: “As referee I benefit from being a coach as well”

Sohail Asghar is a 21-year-old referee. He has been refereeing since 2011-12 and will start his 7th season as a match official after this summer. He’ll not only talk about his refereeing experience, but also how being a football coach helps him as a referee.

How did you get involved in refereeing? 

Sohail Asghar: “I got into refereeing through a youth club I used to volunteer at. At the time we was organising a local football tournament and the manager of the youth club put us through a referees course. I did the course as it was a free course. I enjoyed the course and then went on to buying a kit.”

Sohail Asghar

Refereeing on different time means different prep

Where do you officiate and what does your refereeing weekend usually look like?

“As a level 5 referee I currently referee in my county Lancashire, England. I referee on the West Lancashire Football League (WLFL) and the Blackburn Sunday League (BSL). My weekend normally consists of me either being assistant referee on the North West Counties Supply League (NWCSL) or refereeing on the (WLFL). I wake up in the morning have some breakfast and at 11am I prepare for my game which takes place in the afternoon. On Sundays the games on the BSL take place in the mornings so my preparation is different as I wake up at different times and eat differently.”

Do you go to a referee association or train for yourself?

“As I am part of my Counties Referees Development Group we have physical training which takes place for an hour and then 90 minutes of classroom training with referees who are at the same level as myself. Currently, my local RA’s do not run physical training sessions however, previously did. I attend Accrington and Blackburn referees society meetings each month.  I go to the gym five days a week and sometimes train myself at the local parl.”

Swimming and archery

In your Twitter bio you mention also archery leader and swimming instructor. How do these things relate to refereeing?

“I think these sports benefit me physically and mentally. Archery helps develop mental toughness and focus. Swimming has holistic benefits. I do these sports for fun and enjoyment as they are promoted by my religion alongside wrestling. They relate to refereeing by developing different skills which benefit me as a referee such as mental toughness in refereeing focusing for 90 minutes.

How coaching helps Sohail Asghar

You are a football coach too. How does that influence/help you as a referee?

“A coaching role in football benefits me by understanding how coaches and players feel when decisions are made for and against my team. It allows me to watch other referees and to learn from them. Being a coach gives me a different view of the game, because a coach is like a spectator watch from the side-lines so you are watching the game from a different position and sometimes see things differently.”

What do you tell the kids you coach that will help referees?

“I tell the kids that they need to show respect to the referee and anything they disagree with to either speak to me or the referee in a stoppage in play showing respect. I have told the players if the referee does not give us a free kick play on till the whistle is blown.”

Goals for the future

What are your refereeing goals for next year? And how are you going to achieve them?

Sohail Aghar’s goals as referee. “To say motivated. Refereeing on a consistent basis, getting fitter and hopefully that will lead to a promotion.”

What are the best 3 tips you ever got that made you a better referee

  • Be strong
  • Work hard
  • Make sure your administration is up to date (i.e. open dates and close dates)

Abuse towards referees – we need a cultural change

Abuse towards referees seems normal in football. The working environment of referees and the climate they operate in isn’t always looking bright. “And if people keep seeing abuse, nobody says: I want to referee”, says Dr Tom Webb, who started the Referee and Match Official Research Network in 2017 and has just published his book entitled ‘Elite Soccer Referees: Officiating in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A’, which you can get at Routledge. “Unfortunately there’s a trend that it’s okay to be abusive towards referees. We need a cultural change, but that can take decades.”

Webb had played to a good standard, but has never been a referee. He got involved with referee-related research when he did his Master’s degree at the University of Gloucestershire. Back in 2003 there was a huge problem with recruiting and retaining referees in England. In 2017 he started the Referee and Match Official Research Network to “bring together academics and others interested in the development and associated research concerning the match official within a variety of sports.” He wants to develop a greater understanding around how referees operate, what their experiences are and what the differences are between officiating in different countries and sports.

Abuse towards referees needs to stop. Respect badge!

Back in history

To get an idea of where the abuse comes from, you have to go back in time. In 1863 the Football Association was founded and the game became predominantly working-class over time. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) was formed in 1871 by middle- to upper-class people, “Therefore respect was maintained”, says Webb. “Football professionalised much earlier than rugby union too, because more money was involved in the game. Rugby was a long way behind.”

Verbal abuse seems acceptable

Although rugby is perceived as a sport with more respect, abuse towards referees is a growing issue, says Webb. “In football, just under 20% of the referees say they have been physically abused. In rugby that percentage gets nowhere near that. It’s just 3%.” But there’s a similar level of verbal abuse, like swearing at the ref. “Football players are more used to do it, but it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Verbal abuse seems like something we accept. Although the Respect Programme by the FA had some success, we need a cultural change. And that takes a long time to take effect.”

Above: famous clip with rugby referee Nigel Owens where he explains a difference between rugby and soccer.

 

Volunteering as ref in pub leagues

Refereeing isn’t just about top level refereeing, don’t forget the pub leagues on Sunday. “That’s a whole different culture”, says Webb. “At a majority of the game referees get some expenses, but they’re basically volunteers. It’s very important to have a look at the working environment of referees there as well. It’s influenced by how we talk towards the referee. That’s actually one of the biggest issues there.”

Status quo in referee numbers

Webb says a similar number of referees that got recruited also quit. “They don’t want to be sworn at”. Earlier this year there was a huge strike amongst referees. “It’s sad it comes to that point. It’s a last resort. The refs don’t want to do that, they love refereeing.” A problem is, according to Webb, that referees feel disengaged in for example the Respect Programme or they don’t feel helped in the disciplinary process. It’s them versus players and lots of fans.

Difference between countries

Webb wants to know what’s the difference between refereeing is in different countries. For example, the way they officiate and prepare. If there’s a difference between games in their own country or in a Champions League game, do they get other directives or use different technology,  “There’s a lack of research on these topics, lots of subjects haven’t been covered yet.”

Arbitro Mateu Lahoz

Dealing with simulation is not the same in Europe

There’s a big difference in how players deal with players, says Webb. “Spanish and Italian referees often use more deterrents towards players. In England you’ll notice more talking.” Webb gives another example: simulation. “Players in southern-European countries are more likely to deceive the referee. In Spain or Italy players get applauded if they conned the referee. It’s the referee to blame that he didn’t spot it.

The working environment of refs

A few more differences that influence how referees (re)act and that create a positive or negative environment for match officials to act within. The role of the media is also not the same. “This can be shown with names like ‘the trial’ which focuses only on errors”, says Webb. “Some referees got the idea they can’t do anything right. They even prefer to referee in the Champions League and Europa League instead of in the domestic league.” And what about maintaining the quality of refs? “In England and Italy referees from all over the country meet every two weeks, but that’s less frequent in Spain. Does that influence the training quality?” That’s something Webb wants to compare and see what it means for refereeing.

Disrupting the flow of the game

And don’t forget the current ‘hot’ topic. How will technology influence the game? “Rugby is more stop-start, football is quicker”, says Webb.  Despite the cry for the use of technology getting louder, will the game benefit from the Video Assistant Referee? There’s much at stake in football. One goal can mean the difference between earning millions or nothing. “But using technology could also disrupt the flow of the game. That could be a problem.”

Refereeing in other sports

In recent research Webb didn’t only look at football, but also at four other sports:

  • Rugby
  • Cricket. “Historically that sport embraced technology the most. They have even chosen shorter formats due to technology for example.”
  • Squash. “Match officials are only involved if there’s a let situation, otherwise the players decide who wins the point”. That’s for example when a player thinks he is obstructed by his opponent so he wasn’t able to play a ball.
  • Ultimate Frisbee. “A sport officiated by the players”

“In the latter there’s a big problem while trying to professionalize the sport, especially in America”, says Webb. “It’s difficult to introduce referees on the pitch in a sport that’s normally officiated by the players.”

“And in all sports we see sportsmanship changes over time. Research shows refs notice less sportsmanship when a sport becomes more professionalized. Every path and game is important for players for their career. A bad decision can mean they become runners up or won’t earn a contract. That makes it inevitable that sportsmanship declines.”

Rugby referee

Sportsmanship is easier when winning

Going back to football. It’s very kind to kick the ball out when one of your opponents is down with an injury. “It actually happens more often than not”, says Webb. “But will they also do that 10 minutes before the end of the game? It all goes back to respect for the match official. The referees are there to uphold the Laws of the Game. But sportsmanship is easier when a team is winning or at the start of the game.”

The cultural change

The culture of a sport is difficult to change. “It takes effort and investment in time and money”, says Webb. “The Respect Program is not even 10 years old. It can take decades for the culture to change. I’d like to see respect woven into the fabric of the game.”

Damir Skomina: 3 tips from the Europa League final referee

Damir Skomina will officiate the Europa League final 2017 between Ajax and Manchester United. A big game for the Slovenian referee and his team. Make sure you make the most out of this story, where I share 3 take-aways from him that will help you as a referee too.

Damir Skomina

Photo’s in this post by Aleksandr Osipov – Creative Commons

In the interview met Uefa.com Damir Skomina shares some insights that are useful for all of us referees.

Focus on the game

“When I’m refereeing a match and I’m standing in the line [with the teams],” he adds, “I don’t think of anything else – I’m focusing on the match to come.” That’s what referees need to do. Don’t worry about the fans, the outcome of the game, problems at home or what else.

Focus is what you need, but how do you manage that. Check out these 7 tips to stay focused for 90 minutes.

Prepare yourself decently

Damir Skomina makes player analysis before the game. He knows who is playing, how they play and what the team tactics are. “If you prepare well like this,” he stresses, “you give yourself a better chance of being successful.”

And who doesn’t want to be successful as referee? You won’t be able to do a match analysis of all players and get to know all team tactics. But be prepared with facts about (just to name a few):

  •  the importance of the game
  • a previous result
  • the league table

Act like a team – always!

The Europa League Final is a big game for Damir Skomina and his team. They want to perform at their best, as will Ajax and Manchester United. “We are a team along with the two teams playing,” he emphasises in the interview with Uefa. “We will be encouraging each other, and giving each other the feeling ‘I’m there for you’ – and we will be doing our very best to succeed as a team in this important match.”

Great point there. Be there for someone. Support them and show to the crowd you trust each other.

Want to get any further with this? Check out this advice from FIFA referee Bjorn Kuipers on building trust.

Wolfgang Stark’s final whistle

Wolfgang Stark quits refereeing because he has reached the age limit. The man who has officiated the most Bundesliga games ever, will officiate his last game on the highest German football level on May 20th 2017. He is appointed for the game between Borussia Mönchengladbach and SV Darmstadt 98. That’s the 344’t Bundesliga game of the German ref, who surpassed the old record from 338 by Markus Merk this season.

Stark has also officiated at the 2008 Olympics, the 2010 World Cup in South-Africa and the 2012 European Championship. The German ref also was appointed for the Europa League final in 2011-2012 between Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. He is interviewed in the recent issue of Schiedsrichter Zeitung, the DFB’s referee magazine. From that interview I distilled a few lessons that are useful for all of us referees. I hope you’ll learn something from them.


Wolfgang Stark’s final whistle. Image is screenshot from local tv documentary about Stark

Keep positive, don’t think in problems

“Alles kein Problem”, is what Wolfgang Stark answered when he was asked about his nervousness before the 2010 World Cup in South-Africa. There was no problem at all, nothing to be worried about.  Stark seems quite relaxed. Even the day before he flew to South-Africa he went to the bank he works at (and still does).

His Bundesliga debut was  on April 4th 1997 with the game between 1. FC Köln and MSV Duisburg (2:5).  He knew that even back then he had achieved more than many referees ever will do. “That’s what I always made myself aware off”. He tries to stay humble and tries to remind himself that what he has achieved is already awesome. So no worries about what will happen in the future, keep positive.

That worked out well. Only two years later he became a FIFA referee.

Stick to your own refereeing style

“Every referee has its own style, which should not changes in big games or final tournmanets”, says Stark. He knows that what brought you so far in your career shouldn’t change because it’s a big game. It’s something that suits you, something you feel comfortable with.

There’s no reason to change it.

Bibiana Steinhaus, who will start in the Bundesliga as one of the newcomers, agrees. She says there are no big differences between male and female referees. All use the same Laws of the Game, have the same prerequisites, but “every referee has a different style of managing a game“.

Steinhaus will use a lot of communication, Stark says his focus is on letting things go. Not much whistles, let players play their game. However, he says you have to remain in control. “As a referee, you always have to know when to intervene.”

You need criticism to grow

“Refereeing finals is the icing on the cake”, says Stark. “Those are the games you’ll always remember, especially if you perform well. So you, as referee, want to be the subject of people’s talks afterwards.”

Unfortunately, games always end that way. Not even for referees with World Cup experience.

There are not many big errors made by Stark, but he also has some negative experiences in the game. “Admitting your mistakes is also part of our job”, he says looking back now. He once showed Marcel Schmelzer a red card for a handball, but the ball has touched the knee. “Nobody is immune for making mistakes, so when you make them, make use of it for yourself.”

Immediately after the game between Borussia Dortmund and VfL Wolfsburg Stark talked to the media about his error to send Schmelzer off. He gained a lot of sympathy by his honesty. And the card also got rescinded.

Stark says that you need negative experiences, because you can learn a lot from them. “Probably these games are at least as important as games that have only positive aspects.”

 

Wolfgang Stark explains his mistake to German media

Wolfgang Stark explains his mistake to show Schmelzer a red card to German media

Pay attention to where you came from

The Stark family got some referee genes. Stark started when he was aged14 years with support from his dad, who was a Bundesliga assistant referee ini the team of Aron Schmidhuber. “I had the advantage that my father himself was a referee. Even if he sometimes criticized me, he was also the one who praised me for my performances.”

And that’s what every referee needs, says Stark.

He stresses that recognition is very import for every referee. As a Bundesliga he is probably praised more often than referees on grassroots level. That’s why Stark joined the a special campaign to say thanks to referees at lower levels in German football. He wanted to honour the referees who are now refereeing at the levels where he once started is career. He did not forget where he came from, and wants to pay these referees some attention.

Before the Bundesliga game between Hannover 96 and 1899 Hoffenheim he honoured 63 local referees. He even put all the names of these referees on the back of his shirt and put it on while officiating his Bundesliga game that weekend.

Tv screenshot from Bundesliga game with press photo released for the campain Danke, Schiri (thanks, referees)

Tv screenshot from Bundesliga game with press photo released for the campain Danke, Schiri (thanks, referees)

“Ever referee needs praise”, says Stark. “Referees should’t get just negative, but also positive reflection. The performances from referees at grassroots level needs are appreciated is very important. All Bundesliga referees started there and that’s what we should never forget. As referees, we all belong to one big family.”

Interview with a new Bundesliga ref

In the 2016-2017 season Bibiana Steinhaus will be one of the new Bundesliga referees. She, and three others, will replace Wolfgang Stark and his colleagues. That is big news, because she will be the first female center referee in the German Bundesliga (and other big European leagues). Want to get to know her? Read the interview with Bibiana Steinhaus.

Bibiana Steinhaus first female referee in Bundesliga

Big refereeing news: Bibiana Steinhaus is the first female referee in the Bundesliga. “It has always been my dream to be active in the Bundesliga”, she says to German media. “I am very pleased that this dream will come true”. She is the first center referee in one of the five biggest competitions in Europe.

Bibiana Steinhaus

Bibiana Steinhaus. Photo courtesy DFB.

The 38-year-old policewoman from Hannover is one of four newcomers on the DFB referee list for next season. Because she got great feedback and information from the referee department during the season, she wasn’t surprised referee boss Lutz Fröhlich called this week. “But when he informed me in our telephone call about the decision of the referee’s commission, I was left quite speechless”, she says in an interview on the DFB website.

And what then happened.

“Disbelief, joy, happiness, relief, curiosity, I do not know. It was simply a roller coaster ride of emotions.”

Great incentive to keep working hard

“It is on the one hand a confirmation for the hard work  on the way to this promotion”, she says. “And on the other hand it’s also a great incentive to continue my hard work.”

Steinhaus wants to thank the support she got from everyone. “The referee’s work is – unrestricted – teamwork. Both in the field and in the background we work closely together”, she says. As referee you need good decisions from your assistants, but also a good framework from your football association that helps you with all aspects of the job. Referees have a personal coach, a fitnness team that supports them. “Without this mostly invisible support refereeing at top level would not be possible!”

Bibiana Steinhaus

Female refs normal at highest level

The referee from Hannover is looking forward to the new season. “Certainly as femal referee I’ll be under special observation, especially from the media, at the beginning of the season. It is my goal that female referees in professional football become normal and that they simply will belong to the game.”

Intensive communication with players

Elite referee committe chairman, Lutz Fröhlich, says Steinhaus has a ‘special style of game management’. Steinhaus explains to DFB how she tries to manage a game: “My style is characterized by intensive communication. To exchange mutual expectations at an early stage gives all parties a good guideline. I try an empathic approach to my conversational partners and thus create an encounter on equal terms.

But she stresses that female referees do ‘hardly anything’ differently than male referees. She says that all referees need to judge match incidents based on the same Laws of the Game, with the same outcome as much as possible. And all refs have the same prerequisites. “But of course, every referee has a different style of managing a game.”

Dedication as ref pays off

Steinhaus hopes this will have a positive impact on new referees or girls who think about refereeing. She mentions some of her female colleagues who also are climbing up the ladder. Her colleague Reim Hussein is currently a 3rd Bundesliga referee and Katrin Rafalski is assistant referee in the 2nd Bundesliga. “Commitment and dedication will abosolutely pay off.”

There’s one think that is most important to Steinhaus. “Above all, I want to be judged based on my performances, not because I’m a woman. I wish all referees a successful season ,where referees are not often the center of attention.”

 

Andrew Christiansen: 2016-2017 season was milestone for referees from Faroe Islands

The 2016-2017 started with a bang for Andrew Christiansen. The assistant referee from Faroe Islands got appointed to a game in Andorra with Alex Troleis and Dan Hojgaard between FC Santa Coloma and FC Alaskhert from Armenia. “It was the first time ever that a refereeing team from the Faroe Islands got appointed for a Champions League qualifier”, says Christiansen. “Up to 2016 match officials from our country only officiated in Europa League games.”

Andrew Christiansen (left) with fellow FIFA referees from the Faroe Islands

Andrew Christiansen (left) with fellow FIFA referees from the Faroe Islands

That wasn’t the only big milestone. Only two months before that game Christiansen got appointed for a u17 Uefa tournament in Azerbaijan. “I was only on the Fifa list for four months at that moment in May. It took a guy from Switzerland eight years to get such an invitation”, says Christiansen in an interview with Dutch Referee Blog.

In 2013 there was a possibility for Christiansen to become a Fifa referee. “My country got one referee and three assistants at that moment”, he says. “But all small nations were cut then and I could not get the third spot.” But late November of 2015 he got some good news. Three new referees were announced on the Fifa list for the Faroe Islands. “We were surprised and extremely happy. We’ve been working long time for it and so it was a big relief.”

Back to the start of his career

Christiansen got his referee diploma in 1999. In the Faroe Islands referees represent a team and every club needs to arrange a certain number of referees for all football games. “There was no future for me as a player, so I became a referee”, he says.”after a few years I reached the second division.” The 38-year-old referee made it to the highest level in 2004 and has completed twelve seasons at the Effodeildin, the national Premier League.

His first international experience was the Aberdeen Youth Festival, but he learned the most when he got the chance to go to Uefa’s CORE program. “That was a real eye-opener for me”, says Christiansen. He was doing fine as assistant referee, but this course added a new dimension to it. “That discipline, the new methods of training, a new impression for me.” Most of all, he soaked up all the information he could get from mentors like David Elleray. “You can think you’ll be a rockstar when you come back or you can stay humble and apply everything you’ve learned.”

Andrew Christiansen (right) before the 2016 Faroe Islands Cup Final

Andrew Christiansen (right) before the 2016 Faroe Islands Cup Final

Doing self-assessments to improve

“You don’t have to depend on other people all the time, you can also assess your own performances and training sessions. First you need to find out what you’re good at and get to know the things you’re not so good at. You have to set goals for yourself to improve and take one goal each time. Work one thing each time and it makes it more attainable for yourself.”

The ideal week

The games on the Faroe Islands are usually on Sunday’s. This is what Christiansen’s ideal week looks like.

Sunday: matchday

Monday: jogging/swimming “to relax your muscles”

Tuesday: Weights

Wednesday: Relaxing

Friday: Weights

Saturday: High-Intensity Training and Sprints

As assistant referee you need more sprints and less long runs outside. The referees at the top level use polar watches to measure how fit they are. Measuring is important, says Christiansen. “You can’t cheat the system”. But it’s not always easy to combine a tight training schedule with a fulltime job. I work as a carpenter from 8am to 4 pm every day. But building houses helps me stay in shape as well. And I do the match preparation usually during the evenings. And because we live in a small country travelling to games doesn’t take much time. The longest distance is one hour and 45 minutes. That’s a clear advantage.”

Sports in a small country

The Faroe Islands has just under 50.000 inhabitants. Fifteen to twenty thousand people are involved in sports, but being a referee is still an “unpopular job”. There are around ten referees and 25 assistants in the top league, and about the same on the second level. “But it’s already difficult to get enough referees for the third and fourth division.”

“It was the goal of my federation to get a refferee to a final group stage of FIFA”, says Andrew Christiansen. “I made it last year in Azerbadjan at the u17 Uefa tournament.” Although their quick development at national level, it doesn’t mean they’ll climb fast on Uefa’s lists. “A referee pulls you up the ranks. If they do well, we do well as assistants, but it’s still difficult for smaller countries to become Elite.” That is no reason for Christiansen to stop hoping. “It makes it more challenging and also more interesting to reach your goals.”

What are your goals?

Have you written down your goals? Do you, as Andrew, believe there are lots of possibilities for you as referee? I’d love to know your goals. Share them below or via jan@dutchreferee.com.

And want to start with creating your future path as referee? Get some tips on effective goal-setting for referees.