Documentary Kill the referee (with English subtitles)

The documentary Kill the referee is published online and English subtitles are added as well. Now we’re all at home in lockdown, this documentary is a great thing to watch.  

When it released I’ve written a newspaper story for it. I’ve updated that, because that makes it more relevant. You can also find the full clip below.

Massimo Busacca: we are not gods

Referee Massimo Busacca squatted on the ground. He takes a quiet moment for himself in preparation of the match Sweden versus Greece at the 2008 European Championship in Austria and Switzerland, his home country.

There’s a rosary on the table in the dressing room. Busacca makes the cross sign, he’s ready for it. Together with is assistants he leaves the quietness of the changing room to deliver a good performance with roaring crowds in the stadium.

This intimate moment from the movie Kill the referee (originally produced as Les Arbitres) shows the human aspects of the referees. And that’s exactly what Uefa aims with this documentary. The European soccer association and their referee committee want to show that the top referees are normal people who prepare professionally and they want to set a quality performance.

In regular sport broadcasts the players get full attention. But when a referee’s name is in the pages of the newspapers or on the tv programmes, there’s a big chance he made a mistake. Two recent examples are the mistakes by Roberto Rosetti (offside Tevez) and Jorge Larrionda (goal Lampard) in the matches for a spot in the quarter finals at this World Cup in South Africa.

Full video of Kill the referee

The video is on YouTube. Make sure you put English subtitles on via menu in YouTube player.

The film is a unique documentary, because the football fans never got such a personal insight in the life of professional referees. Producer Jean Libon got access to the dressing room, the hotels and family meetings. His camera team was even able to film the family of the referees at home, who were shown as the greatest supporters of their husband, father or son.

Professional approach towards referees

“This openness from Uefa shows their professional approach towards referees”, says Jaap Uilenberg, former international referee and at this moment member of Uefa’s referee committee. “An interview wit a referee was not done a few years ago.” He stressed that the Dutch FA is more open since a few years ago when they get such requests.

In many European countries there is criticism about the invisible wall between referees and others. Because coaches, players and supporters get no insight into the refereeing business. For example England, where Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger openly criticised the FA. In that period of the release (2010) he wants more openness about the referee appointments.

What you see these days, in 2020 and further, is that referee departments are more open. PRO referees recently did live Q&A sessions on YouTube, which resulted in these tips by Alan Kelly. And there are many more examples, luckily.

Referees are normal human beings

Kill the referee is a start to present the referees with an open approach. “Inside the referee committee we’ve extensively discussed how to handle this”, mentioned Uilenberg. “This movie shows that the referee is also a top sportsman. And a normal human being.” The documentary shows that all referees, like each soccer team and all fans, look forward to reaching the final. “For young referees the movie can be a motivation to strive to such a goal.”

Howard Webb during Euro 2008. Shot from the movie Kill the referee

Uilenberg is also acting in Kill the referee. He’s guiding, mentoring and judging Howard Webb in the match between Austria and Poland. Because of awarding a penalty kick in the last minute against Poland he gets death threats. The then Polish president Lech Kascynski, makes it more worse after that. Because that man was very negative about the referee in the worldwide media.

NB: Uefa did not blame Webb for awarding a (wrong) penalty kick. But there was a different reason to sent him home. That was because of an offside goal which was not seen by Webb’s assistant.

The effect of a referee decision

Uilenberg was very clear back in 2010. “The only thing you can do against the behavior of such people is to take care of the safety of the referee and his family back home.” He shows his aversion of people who call themselves fans, but really aren’t by threatening referees. “The boundaries are shifted according to many years ago. But when the producer can show such reactions, the movie gives a good representation of the life of modern refereeing.”

This documentary illustrates perfectly how important such a big tournament is for some fans and players. A wrong call of the referee can have enormous effects. The movie gives the man in black a human character, who actually can make mistakes. Busacca shows that in a touching way in his reaction to protesting players. “We are no gods, we make mistakes.” When his match is finished he makes the cross sign, and looks up to heaven.

I got a Premier League badge from Howard Webb

I usually don’t get nice mail in my mailbox. It’s just bills, taxes or printed ads. This week was different. I opened the mailbox and there was an envelope with the text “By air mail”. I opened and and saw that I got a Premier League badge from Howard Webb. Fantastic!

Premier League badge from Howard Webb

Howard Webb autographed referee badge

Premier League badge from Howard Webb

I’ve interviewed Howard Webb once he went to Belgium to teach young referees. After Webb’s retirement I thought it would be nice if I could interview him for my blog – and so I asked via e-mail. I got no response on that yet, but he agreed to send me a referee badge with his autograph. So happy I got a Premier League badge from Howard Webb 🙂

I’ll send him a “thank you” e-mail and ask about the interview again. Not sure if he has time for that, but please let me know already what you want to know from him. So, what is your question for Howard Webb?

Check my badge collection.

Darren Cann’s World Cup lessons

It’s a special year for Darren Cann. First of all the big news of his long-term partner Howard Webb who announced his retirement this summer. Secondly, Darren Cann officiated his last international tournament during the World Cup in Brazil, because he has reached the age limit of 45. But Cann does not quit himself. On Monday 18th of August he got his first official match of the season with a whole new refereeing team. He is assistant of Michael Oliver and with fellow AR Stuart Burt – also not his usual partner Mike Mullarkey. A whole new experience for Darren Cann.

Now the Norfolk referee is back from the World Cup started the new season, he is also ready for some reflection on his experiences of this year. Here are 3 lessons Darren Cann learned from refereeing the World Cup in Brazil which will make you a better referee too. These lessons are based on an interview with the Norfolk FA, which also gave me permission to use the picture with this article (thanks!).

Darren Cann’s advice for referees

1. Don’t get frustrated

Darren Cann Photo Norfolk FA.“Like any refereeing trio we hoped to be used early in the competition, but it wasn’t to be. Whilst it was a little bit frustrating, we are professional so we trained really hard every day, applying ourselves day in, day out, so that we were ready when needed.”

That could also happen to you. The first appointments of the season are out and your matches seem boring at first glance. You might want matches on a higher level or between two better teams. Don’t get frustrated about it. Your nice appointments will come. Keep training hard, so you are definitely ready once you got that exciting cup tie or top of the league clash.

2. Make unpopular decisions if necessary

Darren Cann talks about the handball Howard Webb has to call against Hulk, a player of the host nation. “Of course, it’s going to be an unpopular decision against the host nation, but a referee’s job is to be fair and impartial at all times and we always are.”

You might go to a match where one of the teams can win the championship, but one of their players denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. You should send him off although that might reduce their chances of winning the game. That is the rule and you should apply it. Cann: “It’s important to make the right call and Howard certainly did that using all his skill and experience. It was a really pressurised situation.”

3. Share your experiences

Are you member of a referee organization? Do you go training there? Do it! No matter what level you are, you can always learn from your refereeing colleagues. That helps on the lowest amateur level and even right before the World Cup final. ” As it turned out, by staying until the end of the tournament we were also able to have dinner with the Italian trio after their appointment to the Final just 48 hours before kick-off”, Darren Cann says. “That was a really special and unique moment – the first time ever that a World Cup trio had been present to be able to pass on all of their experiences of what it’s actually like to walk out and officiate The World Cup Final…”

I hope you can use these lessons from Darren Cann in your personal refereeing career. What’s the best lesson you learned so far when talking to your fellow referees?

Read the full interview with Darren Cann.

9 quotes on Howard Webb’s retirement

Twitter exploded today after Howard Webb announced his new job as Technical Director. Here are 9 interesteing and inspiring quotes on Howard Webb’s retirement.

1. Howard Webb inspired many referes in England, as Pillaton-Referee tweets:

2. Also Sarah Grundy found Howard Webb inspiring for her as referee.

3. Howard got support from players in English professional football, for example from goal Kasper Schmeichel.

4. According to Massimo Busacca, Fifa’s referee boss, it was a “sad and special” day.

“Without passion and natural quality you can not reach the highest level. Howard was always a great example for every young referee. I am sure he will be able to transmit his knowledge and experience to many referees in England and around the world in his new role. My advice to him? Be like you were on the pitch.”

5. A great ambassador for the young referees, says Gayle Hope. That’s also why he went to Belgium and talk with young refs there.

6. FA’s Chairman Greg Dyke reminds a great story that explains Howard Webb’s character.

“One of the best images of last year was when Howard turned up at a Durham FA event in memory of Sir Bobby Robson. He had a rare Saturday off but still spent a couple of hours meeting hundreds of youngsters. He even agreed to referee an Under-7s match. What an experience for those kids to remember for the rest of their lives – to be inspired by someone who has reached the very pinnacle of their field.

Read full interview with Greg Dyke on FA website.

7. Howard has to add something too:

“Refereeing has given me so much and it’s important that match officials who have had the rewards remain in the game to pass on their knowledge. I also have much more to learn about the business of refereeing and the best place for me to do that is with PGMOL. It’s an incredibly positive working environment and we all have a common goal of improving refereeing.”

Have a good time as technical director, Howard Webb. England’s Premier League will miss you next season(s). Congrats on such a great career!

IFFHS: Webb world’s best referee of 2013

The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) has chosen Howard Webb from England als world’s best referee of 2013.

Experts from 70 countries and from all the football continents took part in the 2013 annual election for the World’s Best Referee, the 27 th time it has been carried out by the IFFHS. The “Top 10” come from 9 different countries, only Italy is represented by two referees: Nicola Rizzoli and Gianluca Rocchi. The list is dominated by European referees. Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekistan is the only non-European on the list.

    Howard Webb: "word's best referee of 2013" according to IFFHS.

    Howard Webb: “word’s best referee of 2013” according to IFFHS.

  1. Howard WEBB (England): 102 points
  2. Nicola RIZZOLI (Italy): 82 points
  3. Viktor KASSAI (Hungary): 53 points
  4. Felix BRYCH (Germany): 42 points
  5. Cüneyt CAKIR (Turkey): 40 points
  6. Bjorn KUIPERS (Netherlands): 38 points
  7. Pedro PROENCA (Portugal): 35 points
  8. Ravshan IRMATOV (Uzbekistan): 29 points
  9. Carlos VELASCO CARBALLO (Spain): 22 points
  10. Gianluca ROCCHI (Italy): 17 points

This list might help you with predicting World Cup Referees. You can win a complete Adidas outfit (sponsored by by guessing the World Cup referees via a page on this blog. Check this for more info.

Pedro Proenca was the winner in 2012, followed by Cakir (2) and Webb (3).

IFFHS has previously release a list with the best referees of the first 10 years in the 21st century. Markus Merk from German was the best according to their experts.

  1. Dr. Markus Merk Deutschland 135
  2. Óscar Julián Ruiz Colombia 104
  3. Ľuboš Micheľ Slovensko 96 and Jorge Luis Larrionda Uruguay 96

Read the full list with best referees of the first decade of the 21st century.

Alex Ferguson biography on referees

Alex Ferguson biography released and the former Manchester United coach is not positive about referees – as could be expected. Below some quotes from him during the presentation of the book.

UK refereeing: Alex Ferguson not positive about it in his biography.

UK refereeing: Alex Ferguson not positive about it in his biography.

Guardian journalists were at the press conference where Alex Ferguson released his biography. They wrote: “Ferguson also, perhaps predictably, declares that there are no “really top” referees in the modern game, damning them as unfit and “as a group, not doing their job as well as they should be”.

Even with Howard Webb, Martin Atkinson and Mark Clattenburg in Uefa’s Elite Referee’s group, Ferguson is not so positive about refereeing in the UK. “We haven’t had a really top Premier League referee for a long time”, he was cited on The Guardian.

The Daily Mail says about the book: “Despite the banal choice of title — My Autobiography — this book should really be called Settling Old Scores.” Ferguson talks about David Beckham as “obsessed with his ‘celebrity status'” and about referees that “they weren’t doing their job”.

Did you read Alex Ferguson’s biography? Did you find more about referees? Let me know.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore disagreed with Alex Ferguson’s opinion about British refereeing. “No, I don’t accept the criticism,” he said on ESPN. “I don’t. We are at the leading edge of referee development. We are at the leading edge of referee fitness. We are at the leading edge around Europe in terms of what we are doing with our referees.” He stresses that UK refs are not perfect, but would never swamp them for any other group.