Referee Clément Turpin: advice from a French top official

Referee Clément Turpin officiates the Champions League final in 2022. He was also the referee in the Europa League final in 2021 and was present at the most recent European Championships. In this blog post you’ll get a look into his career, plus some great insights in his fitness routines and match preparation. 

The quotes in this story come from the wonderful Uefa documentary Man in the Middle and an interview with before 2022’s final. You can also watch the tips below in the video.

Game management and calmness

Referee Clément Turpin has some great tips on game management. He calls them extreme situations. “Extreme because there is pressure, there are a lot of emotions around you.” Because it’s also crucial to make the right calls, not necessarily the most popular decison. “You need to be courageous and be able to ease tension. Calmness breeds calmness in tense and difficult situations.”

But are you up for that task? “The life of a referee revolves around being ready to take decisions, being confident and being natural. You have to understand the game – the more you do, the better you can read a game as a referee.”

Smallest details are crucial to reach the top

Turpin finds the balance in the countryside and the hectic life as football referee with games all over Europe. He became a referee at the age of 16, but he never saw himself 20+ years later as an international referee. And 2021 will be the pinnacle of his career so far, with an appointment for the Europa League final between Manchester United and Villarea. He also goes to the Euro 2020 tournament.

Reaching the top comes to the smallest details, he says. “And these details, if you don’t have persons to help you to show what are these details, then it’s very difficult.”

Roberto Rosetti was his mentor 4 years ago and he helped him with finalising these last details that made him the referee that could become an Uefa Elite referee. “It’s so important to have a person with a lot of experience and a fantastic spirit to push you to reach this target.” 

Match preparation by referee Clément Turpin

Clément Turpin organises the match preparation around 4 topics. 

  • Tactical organisation
  • Set pieces – “in modern football set pieces are so important”
  • Offside situations
  • Behaviour of the players

“Thanks to these 4 topics I try to have a perfect view of both teams.” And during the game mutual respect helps you manage the game. “I give always respect to players and coaches, so I expect respect from them as well.”

As you can see, he does a very thorough preparation. It reminds me how the Dutch referees prepare for their games. In this story with video analyst John Balvers you can read more how they analyse all the clips and teams.

Still from Uefa’s documentary Man in the Middle

Find motivation to train

Because referees and the assistants in their team don’t always live nearby, they can’t train always as a team. “The differences between players and referees is for sure the motivation to go to the training”, Turpin says. “Because when you’re alone, it is difficult to find the motivation. But when you have the target of the Champions League matches, believe me, the motivation is so easy to have.”

An advice for all of us. Although you might not officiate at international level, you also have targets as a referee and keep these in mind and you’ll be more motivated to train. 

Don’t underestimate the physical aspect

“The physical aspect is one of the most important ones for referees. The intensity of play increases season after season and the referee has to follow. That’s why we have to do training sessions every day. That is normal.” The French top referee is convinced the training intensity of players and referees is more or less the same. “We have to sprint at high intensity, we repeat this high intensity. That’s why I have to focus on the physical aspect.” 

Also amateur levels improve, so should you as a referee. During the season you get tips every #FitnessFriday on my Instagram or YouTube

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