Hakan Anaz shares his Asian Cup 2019 experiences

Hakan Anaz is a referee instructor and assessor at the Asian Cup 2019. The 2014 World Cup assistant referee from Australia is now helping other referees to reach their top level. In this interview he shares his experiences during the 2019 tournament and looks at the future of refereeing in Asia. “I have no doubt that we have many world class referees in Asia who can easily referee a World Cup final in Qatar.”Hakan Anaz with Asian Cup 2019 Logo

 

Asian Cup 2019 experiences

How do you look back to the Asian Cup 2019? 

“First of all I would like to thank AFC for having the faith in inviting me to their flagship tournament, the World Cup of Asia, The AFC Asian Cup. I have been Instructing and Assessing for three years now and to have been invited to this tournament was a great honor for me.”

Since Hakan Anaz retired he picked up a whole new role in the refereeing world. “My role at AFC is multi-faceted. I am a Referee Instructor and Assessor, covering all tournaments and competitions like the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup.”

PS: Kronika Sedziowska also wrote a worth-reading refereeing analysis of this tournament with clips. Check out their story.

AFC Referee Academy

“I also work at the AFC Referee Academy with my fellow Instructors Fernando Tresaco Gracia, Farkhad Abdullaev and Alejo  Perez LeGuizamon. I am Lead Instructor at the Referee Academy for batch 2018. Working with these gentleman is great and I think for me being involved in such a great program is motivational to me. The AFC Referee Academy is the only football academy in the world which involves in-class, remote and practical refereeing education over an intensive 4 year period. From my 2018 batch, I can already see some potential World Cup referees and should they make it, I will be ever so happy I was part of their dream.

Being together with many top refs together

At the Asian Cup, I think the highlight for me was the first day in the seminar room when all the best referees and Instructors were gathered in our conference room. I looked around the  room and felt awed to be part of this great tournament.  Working with best referees in Asia was great, my goal has always to make a difference. I think honesty and integrity is something I always hold dear to me, and if you can do this, the respect you get is assured I’m sure.

Keep fit 

“Actually, I trained as intensely as the referees during the Asian Cup and many of the referees made comment that I should come back to refereeing. However, my active refereeing finished after my World Cup 2014 assignment.” More about his momorable 2014 below.

The level is getting higher

“My new challenge is to develop new World Cup referees for 2022 and beyond. Hence my keen involvement in the AFC Referee Academy. “, says Hakan Anaz. During the 2018 World Cup Alireza Faghani was close to being the first Asian World Cup final referee. In the end he officiated the 3rd place match. 

“I was fortunate to have assessed Alireza Faghani in his round of 16 match at the Asian Cup. Again, he demonstrated how great strides refereeing in Asia has taken. The bar is constantly rising. I was also fortunate to have assessed another up and coming referee who I have no doubt will be at the next World Cup in 2022.”

World Cup final in Qatar

“If you look at the Asian referees at the last World Cup and the current referees at the Asian Cup, I have no doubt that we have many world class referees who can easily referee a World Cup final in Qatar. To achieve this goal, AFC are working extremely hard to make AFC Referees the best in the World.”

Recruiting new top referees

“My other roles in AFC is as a recruiter where I will assess potential referees into inclusion to the Elite group of referees and also as a video assessor. As can be seen, I am extremely busy at AFC which means I don’t have time for a full time job. My passion is refereeing and I put 100% into any position I do. I have had some potential job opportunities in refereeing education from countries in Asia, and its definetely something I would consider in the future if the right position came along. But at the moment, I am very happy working with AFC.”

2014: a wonderful year as assistant referee

Earlier on I spoke with Anaz after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. A great experience to learn from as fellow referee. In this part Anaz shares his experiences and gives you some solid advice. 

How did you experience the tournament in Brazil?
Hakan Anaz: “The experience that summer in Brazil was truly special. FIFA told us that not many referees get to go to a World Cup. A World Cup in the atmosphere in Brazil is a once in a lifetime experience, truly unforgettable experience. All the referees knew how special is would be. Having said that, all the referees were there to referee games and all the referees just wanted to get out onto the park. We trained 36 out of the 39 days we were there, so we had excellent preparation during the tournament.”

Working 20 years for this moment

“Team Australia (with Ben Williams and Matthew Cream) were fortunate to have 3 games during the tournament. After appointments were announced by FIFA, all the referees congratulated the respective referees. It was a very good atmosphere. All the referees got along very well. For me walking out before every game was special. I’ve worked 20 years for this moment and arriving on the biggest sports tournament in the world was worth all the blood , sweat and tears. It was very fulfilling. Having said that, the round of 16 game Costa Rica Vs Greece was a very pleasing experience for Team Australia because it was the first time a match trio from Australia has refereed a game in the knock-out stages.”

Referee Hakan Anaz in dressing room

Hakan Anaz’ first World Cup

It was your first one WC – and probably your last one because you are 44 now. What are your goals now in refereeing? Will you stay AR on national level or do you have other ambitions?
Hakan Anaz: “I have now retired from active refereeing. My goal has always been to get to the World Cup. I achieved that. I always have been humble during my referee career and feel that going on more than you need to would be selfish, and my character is never like that. I want the next generation to have a chance at achieving what I have achieved, and I exit the stage at the highest level possible. Not many can say that. I knew the time was right to leave so I declined the contract offer by Football Federation Australia to referee further in the national league.”

Improve as referee

How did you improve yourself as referee?
Hakan Anaz: “I am my worst critic. I watch my games, even when I know the game went well, and critically analyse my decisions, positioning and performance. I have an ethos and that is “you never stop learning”. You always analyse your game and you always try to achieve a higher and higher level. I do a lot of visualisation and technical drills at training so that I am as prepared as much as I can. There is a saying “fail to prepare … prepare to fail”, My preparation – both physical and technical – was at a very high standard prior to the tournament and I’m sure our Round of 16 appointment we got our reward for all 3 of us.”

Lasting friendships with referees

What else brought 2014 for you as referee?
Hakan Anaz: “One of the most important for me was not only the memories, but also the lasting friendships. This is also important because there will always come a time when referees will no longer officiate. What is always long lasting is your friendships you make along the way. I have made some great friends who I always stay in contact with which is something that means a lot to me. Your fellow Dutch referee, Bjorn Kuipers, his assistants Sander and Erwin, was some good friendships I made in the 2 years on the candidates program.”

Family time

“2014 also bought to me retirement from refereeing but also now a new phase in my life. I now have more time with my family which I want to devote more time to. I have a young daughter who is very happy now to have her dad spend more time at home. I enjoy family time.”

Hakan Anaz and world cup team.

Hakan Anaz (left), referee Ben Williams (center) and Matthew Cream. Photo provided by referee.

Becoming a referee

Back to your roots. How did you become a referee?

“I have played football since I was 7. I love football. I played until I was 23 at which time I knew I could not make the highest level of football in Australia. So I wanted to remain active in football. A friend of mine was a referee so I decided to give it a go. After about 6 months, I enjoyed it so much, I decided to devote more of my time and energy towards refereeing. As I moved higher up the ranks, my goals changed and I set myself higher and higher goals. When we were put on the candidates program back in 2012, we knew that it would be a very intense program as FIFA wanted only the best referees and assistants at the Brazil World Cup. We kept working harder and harder, always knowing that there was never any guarantee of being selected to go to Brazil. We were always well grounded and knew we had to keep working hard.”

Personality of a referee

I’ve seen many referees with Turkish roots climbing the refereeing ranks in other countries. Aytekin in Germany, Gozubuyuk in The Netherlands and of course you in Australia. What is the reason by their and your success?

Hakan Anaz: “I think ones personality is very important here. It does not matter if you are from such and such a country, the reason for anyone’s success is hard work, and being humble. Of course it is rather special when you have lived your life in one country and you are appreciated in the country of your parents birth. But there is no substitute for hard work. I would like to believe that we were chosen because all the instructions and directives that FIFA wanted of us, we fulfilled and then some.”

“The planning that the 3 of us went through for the 2 and a half year on the program was so meticulous I think in the end paid off with our selection. And of course, there is the performances on the field. Being honest and humble is very important. But also applying the laws of the game, and never compromising on your morals is also very important. Respect for yourself and fair play.”

Advice for young referees

What advice would you give to (young) referees?
Hakan Anaz: “If you want to achieve the highest in whatever you do, be it as a player, coach or referee, then be prepared to work hard. Planning is important. Always be humble. Always review your past matches and always learn from other referees.”

Listen to your mentors

“When I started refereeing, I had two mentors who I was always asking for advice, trying to understand what the art of refereeing is about. Learning from other referees is important, but also to take advice. If another more experienced referee gives you advice, be prepared to listen and appreciate what he/she is saying. Refereeing is not black and white, sometimes it is grey. It’s how a referee reacts to these grey areas is important. And always let your personality come through in your refereeing. And always be in position, this helps “sell” your decision. Whether as a referee or as an assistant, if you are in position then you can sell your decision. Finally, enjoy refereeing. If you don’t enjoy refereeing this will show in your performance.”

Read the interview with Ben Williams, Hakan Anaz’ refereeing partner during the World Cup, on my blog.

Referee Peter O’Leary talks after World Cup death threats

Referee Peter O’Leary wasn’t safe after he refereed the World Cup match Nigeria – Bosnia Herzegovina in Brazil. After months of silence he talked with the NZ Herald about the situation. 2014 became a top year because of the selection for the World Cup, but he also became Bosnian public enemy number one

What happened during the World Cup?

“That’s an obvious error,” O’Leary says in The NZ Herald. “The assistant referee at the time said it was offside, put his flag up and I said, ‘Thank you very much, offside’. I didn’t make the call. However, as the referee, I’m in charge. I’m responsible and I carry the can.”

23.000 fans signed a petition to stop O’Leary from refereeing. Some wanted the Kiwi referee to die. Another one wrote: “If this petition doesn’t do anything, I’m gonna go up to his doorsteps at (midnight) and burn him and his house”, cited by the Daily Mail.

“I had a long international career and I certainly never experienced something like that, and I don’t believe many other referees have either. That was a very exceptional thing.” Referee Peter O’Leary never got the bullets in his mail box. The most difficult thing for him was that he stayed in Brazil, while is his wife and two sons (5 and 7) were at home.

Referee Peter O'Leary

O’Leary with Nigerian goalie

Before the World Cup Fifa released interviews with all the referees and Peter O’Leary told that his goal was to be the ‘invisible man’, so “the players can be the stars“. Unfortunately for him it didn’t go that way. Not only the goal was wrongly disallowed, also a photo appeared of the referee hugging the Nigerian goalie. (I don’t owe the rights of that pic, so check it here)

Referee Peter O’Leary explains how that happened. “The Nigerian goalkeeper is a character … with a sunny disposition. At the end of our game he had the ball, I went and got the ball off him. He said congratulations (for being part in the World Cup programme, Jan), put his arm around me and I put my arm around him. While we were doing that, the fourth official said something in my ear and that made me laugh.”

The incident caused Fifa officials to examine O’Leary’s cellphone and laptop for 24 hours to probe match-fixing. “They said: we don’t have a problem with you”

O’Leary’s conclusion about this year: “It has been tough. It makes it difficult, but also football’s just a game and it’s important to remember that.”

Sander van Roekel happy in shadow of Kuipers

In 1980 Sander van Roekel was a promising striker in the u8 team of SKV, but he got into refereeing very early in his career. When he entered professional football as referee, a member of Van Roekel’s football club wrote on the club’s website: “If Sander Van Roekel will reach the top of professional football, and if people maybe even will be talking about him in Europe, remains to be seen.”

Start as professional referee

Sander van Roekel when he was a young referee.

Sander van Roekel when he was a young referee. Photo courtesy SKV.

Sander van Roekel was also with Björn Kuipers, Bas Nijhuis and Pol van Boekel on the C-list of Dutch referees, talented refs who just joined professional football. “But I soon realised they were better”, Van Roekel told newspaper De Gelderlander. “Then I switched to a role as assistant referee.” Van Roekel became an international referee in 2007 and teams up with Kuipers almost immediately; both will be joined by Erwin Zeinstra in 2011. “The referee makes the choice who he wants in his refereeing team.”

Van Roekel trains three times a week at Veenendaal Atletiek Vereniging, a sports club for runners. He also works three days a week as teacher in economy at a secondary school. “I’ve made good arrangements with my colleagues”, the assistant ref says. “Because if the KNVB (Dutch FA) calls me, I need to be there.” And his students, what do they think of his other job? “They know I’m an assistant referee and address me about the Champions League and the World Cup”, he told Helden Online, “but I’m not really in the spotlight. And that’s what I like.”

In the shadows of Björn Kuipers

Van Roekel accepts his role in the shadows of Björn Kuipers. Although the Dutch FA talks about “team Kuipers”, it’s Kuipers who does the media talks and the assistants are more at the background. “Well, as assistant referee you need to know your place”, he told Spits. “If Björn goes to the theatre everybody whispers his name and they wonder if it’s him or not. When I go to the theater, no one recognizes me.”

The Dutch assistant referee told that he can easily walk in Amsterdam the day after the Ajax – PSV clash in the Dutch league. “Nobody knows who I am, not even when I had to make a questionable decision on the field.”

The author on the website of Van Roekel’s football club was not completely right about the future of his career. Yes, he’s active on Europe and world’s highest level, but we don’t hear a lot about him. He’s a quiet man in the shadows of Björn Kuipers – and is happy with that.

Read the profile of Björn Kuipers.

Referee Milorad Mazic and the Belgrade derby’s

Milorad Mazic

Milorad Mazic

Milorad Mazic played football like most of the referees before he started officiating. “I had a bad injury”, he told Fifa. “And after that I started and became a referee.” The passion for football is the main thing that drives him, also as a referee. “I love football so much.” Mazic is very happy he could still have a career in football.

First and most important thing in Brazil is to do ‘my very best’, says Mazic. His career went fast after becoming an international referee in only 2009. On 2012 Mazic was on the prospective list of World Cup referees, but he was not an Elite Uefa referee yet. Right before the World Cup Mazic has officiated 8 Champions League and 13 Europa League matches matches. He also got appointed for the u21 European Championships in 2011, the 2013 u20 World Cup and the World Cup play-off between Romania and Greece.

The derby’s of Belgrade

The Serbian competition is not a “big” competition in Europe, but it’s definately one where you have to stand strong as a referee with for example the derby’s in Belgrade. Check out the video of the match between Red Star and Partizan:

Mazic creates Serbian histora

Mazic makes history being the first Serbian referee who’s chosen for a World Cup in almost 25 years. He’ll be assisted by Dalibor Đurđević and Milovan Ristic. The last referee from Serbia who officiated a match on the FIFA World Cup was Zoran Petrovic in in 1986 in Mexico and in Italy in 1990.

Banner Mazic World Cup final

Check out an interview from Fifa with Milarad Mazic

Windsor Barra Referee Hotel in Rio

Windsor Barra Referee Hotel view.

The referees will stay at the Windsor Barra Hotel in Rio de Janeiro. The hotel is located beach-front with some very nice views over the water.

Most important details of the hotel at a quick glance:

  • It has 5 stars
  • It is located in front of the exuberant beach of Barra da Tijuca, in Rio de Janeiro.
  • It has a terrace with two swimming pools
  • From the Windsor Barra Referee Hotel it is just an 30 minute drive to the Centro de Futebol Zico training ground where the referees will have their training sessions during the tournament.
  • You can even make a virtual 360 degrees tour throught the Windsor Barra (Referee) Hotel.

    Image on top is the view from the Windsor Barra Referee Hotel (via Google Streetview)

World Cup referees: how do they train?

World Cup referees welcomed by Zico.

World Cup referees welcomed by Zico.

The World Cup referees are in Brazil, but how do they train? Getty Images shot some photo’s during 2014’s Confederations Cup which online media are able to embed on their news and editorial pages. On the 6th of June their will be an open training session, but if you’re not in Brazil these photo’s will give you an idea how the referees train.

Check out the photo series of how referees will train during the World Cup. Zico welcomed the referees on his training ground. And as you can see: the referees make a lot of fun. Hopefully it will be fun during 2014’s World Cup as well.

PS: You can still take part of Dutch Referee Blog’s competition and guess the World Cup refs. Fill in this form.

Zico talks to the referees at the CFZ referee World Cup training ground.

Howard Webb making fun at the first training of the World Cup referees.

Referees doing their warming-up

Referees are getting their instructions for the training session.

Referees playing a game. Eriksson from Sweden in very enthusiastic about it. In the background Björn Kuipers.

Rizzoli on the photo with Zico.

Felix Brych and Papa Gassama during the training

Zico and Fifa’s Head of refereeing Massimo Busacca

Photo of Zico is by Doha Stadium Plus Qatar and published under Creative Commons.

Mark Geiger and his exciting lifestyle as professional referee

Mark Geiger has been named MLS referee of the year 2014. He was number one for players, clubs and media, MLS announced. Number 2 and 3 were Jair Marrufo and Alan Kelly. Mark Geiger will also referee the 2014 MLS final.

2014 was a great year for Mark Geiger. The best moment maybe is 2:24 am on 15th of January 2014. At that moment an e-mail was sent to Mark Geiger from Uefa Headquarters with the news that he’d be a referee at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. “I woke up to an email and a couple of text messages from friends. An outstanding experience just to wake up and see that email”, Geiger told AP.

Refereeing for pocket money

At the age of 13, Mark Geiger became a football referee. The reason? He needed some pocket money and this was a far better way of getting some extra bucks than the other kids. It took him 15 years from 1988 to become a National Referee in 2003. Since 2014 he has been officiating in Major League Soccer. After 4 years on the higest national level he became a Fifa referee.

Mark Geiger, Sean Hurd and Joe Fletcher.  Photo published with courtesy of Professional Soccer Referee Association (PSRA)

Mark Geiger, Sean Hurd and Joe Fletcher. Photo published with courtesy of Professional Soccer Referee Association (PSRA)

After the 2010 World CUp Fifa boss Sepp Blatter announced that he doesn’t want part-time referees anymore. “You can’t have non-professional referees in professional football”, Blatter said. Not everybody changed his career, Björn Kuipers is for example a supermarket owner, but Geiger did. On January 2013, he made refereeing in Major League Soccer his full-time job. “It was It was something I would have to do”, he told on the website of Lacey Township High School, the school he was a math teacher at. “It’s a new opportunity. It’s going to be a new lifestyle. It’s exciting.”

The moment was right for him. “Timingwise, it couldn’t have been more perfect,” he said. “I’ve seen improvements in myself. I don’t have that stress while I’m at the tournament worrying about what my students are doing back home.”

Mark Geiger’s international career

After Geiger became an international referee, he got some big games. During 2011’s u20 World Cup he got 2 group stage matches, a last 16 match and finnaly the final between Brazil in Portugal. His team back then was the same as the assistants he’ll go to Brazil with now: American assistant referee Mark Hurd and Canadian assistant referee Joe Fletcher.

In 2011 he also became MLS referee of the year. In 2012 Geiger went to the London Olympics as referee and in 2013 he got appointed for the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup. Mark Geiger could be come the first American referee who officiates a match beyond the group stage.

“If you don’t do well there, the tournament is done,” Geiger said. “We need to focus on that first game wholeheartedly, make sure we nail that and get it right.”

Want to see more of how Mark Geiger prepares for matches? Check those video’s from Major League Soccer from 2011. He was then a teacher, so he has now more time for refereeing and preparatin, but video’s still worth watching.

Part 1 of MlS Major League documentary

Part 2 of MlS Major League documentary