5 best read referee interviews of 2013

The Dutch Referee Blogs publishes interviews with referees from all levels of football every now and then. Here are the 5 best read referee interviews of 2013.

  1. Kevin Blom. The Dutch referee who wrongly gave a penalty kick to the Czech Republic in the match against Scotland talked about the incident which costed the Scottish team a spot at the European Championships. Read the article “From heaven to hell in Scotland”.
  2. Jerome Damon. He was a 2010 World Cup referee in his own country South Africa. Unfortunately he did not pass the Fifa fitness test one year later. Damon talks about his injury and what the future will bring him as a referee. Read the story “Jerome Damon – Refereeing in South Africa”
  3. Ali Sabbagh. The interview with Sabbagh was published in the beginning of the year. He told me he wanted to reach the World Cup in the future, something no other center referee from Lebanon has ever achieved. Read his story “Lebanese referee want to reach the World Cup”. Just a few months after I published the interview Sabbagh got caught in match-fixing scandal. He got jailed for six months. Read more about Sabbagh’s fraud.
  4. Fifa referee Arnold Hunter form Fermanagh Northern Ireland.

    Fifa referee Arnold Hunter form Fermanagh Northern Ireland.

  5. Arnold Hunter. The referee from Northern Ireland got promoted to Uefa’s Second Group in 2013. Hunter is from a small country, but does everything he can to become an Elite referee. Read the interview with Arnold Hunter.
  6. Ingvar Gudfinsson. You might think: who is this guy? He’s an assistant referee from Iceland and worked with Kristin Jakobsson and was match official on high level. He quit his career at Anfield Road. I interviewed him for the series ‘Life after refereeing’. Read more about Ingvar Gudfinsson in the interview.

Match fixing: ref Ali Sabbagh and assisstants get jailed

Lebanese football referee Ali Sabbagh was sentenced with a six months’ improsonment today for match fixing. His assistant referees were sentenced with three months jail time, says Channel News Asia.

Ali Sabbagh - referee from Lebanon - Now sentenced for matchfixing.

Ali Sabbagh – referee from Lebanon – Now sentenced for matchfixing.

The referees all pled guilty on the first day of trial for accepting free sex from a gambling-linked global syndicate. In return they were supposed to rig a match between Asian Football Confederation Cup match (second international level for club teams, like Europa League; JtH) on April 3 between Singapore-based club Tampines Rovers and India’s East Bengal. Right before the match the match officials were pulled out and a new refereeing trio was appointed.

The assistants are already released from jail. Channel News Asia: “The assistant referees broke down into sobs after Judge Low Wee Ping said they could be freed by later Monday or Tuesday, after remission for good behaviour and due to time already served awaiting sentence.” Sabbagh got a higher sentence because he was the one who persuaded the assistants to accept the “bribe”.

Sabbagh was a Fifa referee since 2008. In an interview with Dutch Referee Blog earlier this year he was talking about going to a World Cup sooner or later. “Now I am 34 years and here in Lebanon all the people say that I will go to the World Cup because of my performance and my development. So I hope that they’re right, because our federation works hard to improve refereeing.” Although Fifa has not made a statement about his future as referee, his chances for a final tournament have decreased to (almost) zero due to this match fixing incident.

UPDATE: Fifa has confirmed Ali Sabbagh will get a worldwide lifetime ban because he agreed to fix a match in Singapore in exchange for sexual favors.

Read the full interview with Ali Sabbagh from earlier this year

Lebanese referee Ali Sabbagh wants to reach the World Cup

Referee Ali Sabbagh from Lebanon works hard to get to the World Cup in Brazil. Then he would become the first center referee from his country to achieve that.

An interview with 33-year old referee Ali Sabbagh by the Dutch Referee Blog. He’s a Fifa referee since 2008.

I read on WorldReferee.com you were a runner. Did you play football yourself?

“Yes, I played football myself. Before I was a runner I played football with many small teams in my city and also in school.”

Ali Sabbagh - referee from Lebanon

Ali Sabbagh – referee from Lebanon

How did you become a referee?

“In 2000 I was studying Physical Education at university and one of my friends he tells the federation that he wants to be a referee. The federation told him that he must bring at least 15 names to make a tournament and exams for refereeing possible. So he puts all the names of the teachers – including me of course. After I went to the tournament and passed all the exams, including the cooper test (the old one = 12 minutes running), the federation accepted me as a new referee.”

Do you think a good referee does need to have experience as a player?

“I think it’s better for a referee to play football before he thinks about being a referee, because this helps him to feel and read the game.”

How is refereeing in Lebanon?

“The refereeing in Lebanon is not bad, but we are not like Europe. The games are difficult and the players don’t know anything about the rules of the game. Most of them did not have any sportive culture, the majority of them does not respect the refereeing teams. They think that we are only coming to make them loose. Also, the facilitiesare medium: not good, but not bad either.”

How good is the quality compared with other countries in the region?

“Let me tell you that refereeing is not the same in the countries in my region, because there are some countries that have all the facilities: a strong referees department, good instructors, refereeing materials, like electronic flags, communication systems and other stuff.”

Haidar Koleit was the only World Cup (assistant) referee from Lebanon. When do you expect there will be a Libanese center referee? How is the Lebanese FA improving refereeing?

“Now I am 34 years and here in Lebanon all the people say that I will go to the World Cup because of my performance and my development. So I hope that they’re right, because our federation works hard to improve refereeing. It arranges many refereeing courses and some of them are from Fifa. The fitness training is excellent and there are many practical session during the year. ”

What are your refereeing goals?

“My goal is to go to the World Cup so I am working hard – in a good way – to achieve it.”

Read more: Ali Sabbagh was jailed for match-fixing in 2013. .