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.

Jerome Damon: refereeing in South Africa

Jerome Damon was referee at the World Cup in 2010 in his country: South Africa. Just one year later he did not pass the fitness test for international referees. Damon talks about his injury, refereeing in South Africa and more in an interview with Dutch Referee Blog.

How did you become a referee?
“The first thing that I should be sharing with you is that I never played competitive football in my life. I used to tag along with my friends to the field to be the supporter or water-boy until one day the appointed referee did not honour his appointment. They then approached me to referee – I agreed on condition that they understood that I was not a referee. I enjoyed it so much and have not stopped since that time back in 1988.”

South African referee Jerome Damon puts the wall at 9m15cm during the World Cup 2010 match between Japan and Denmark just before a Japanese goal.

South African referee Jerome Damon puts the wall at 9m15cm during the World Cup 2010 match between Japan and Denmark just before a Japanese goal. TV screenshot.

What was your best experience?
“It is very difficult to pinpoint just one experience. Every match for me has had a unique special memory. Maybe one day when I sit down to pen my thoughts, a special one would surface, but for now… it cannot be narrowed down to one.”

You’re not on the international list any more. Why?
“The 2010 World Cup marked almost eight years of continuous travel and intensive training. In July of 2011, I ran the fitness in Johannesburg and just did not have any gas left in the tank, eventhough I was physically ready, I was mentally drained and so I just walked off the track after five laps of the High Intensity test. In September I went for the retest in Malawi where we ran on a sand track – on lap 2 I felt a sharp pain in the left hamstring. I immediately stopped and when I got home the physio confirmed what I had thought – a torn hamstring. That put me out of the International list for 2012.”

“In 2012, during the same test in Johannesburg for the 2013 International list, the same hamstring injury flared up again. I only started our domestic season in September of 2012 after that injury. As we speak in this interview, I am still weighing up my options of my international future.”

What are your refereeing goals now you already officiated at a World Cup?
“As I have indicated before, I am still weighing up all my options as I am still actively refereeing in South Africa. I however, do see myself active in serving the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and FIFA at administrative level in the refereeing department – instructor, referee’s inspector, match commissioner.” And with a laugh. “Maybe even Referees Committee level – if they need me.”

How would you describe refereeing in Africa?
“The Elite Referees in Africa are on par with the rest of the world (I experienced that at both World Cups 2006/10), but the World does not see African match officials in that light. That is a shame – this was made very clear when in 2005 I officiated a WC 2006 Qualifier match in Croatia (Croatia v Iceland). I have it on good authority that both teams wanted to know why FIFA appointed African match officials, asking if if European officials were not good enough.”

South African FA logo.

South African FA logo.

And how is refereeing in South Africa compared to refereeing in other continents or maybe even other African countries?

“As I have mentioned before, I think we can hold our own compared to the best on the field of play, however, we still have a long way to go administratively. The biggest difference between South-Africa and the rest of the World is that in most countries, refereeing is headed towards a professional structure – in SA all of our match officials officiating in our highest league are amateurs; most have day jobs whilst a large majority are unemployed.”

“We are however headed in the right direction – just recently South African Football Association and the PSL, our professional league, came to an agreement that the next step for refeereing is a professional structure.”

“In Africa – maybe like in the rest of the world – referees are the last people National Associations take care of. We are expected to deliver a top class performance week-in-and-week-out, often at our own costs.”