These days all soccer fans are mainly focused on the World Cup in South Africa. The latest results are hot topics at the coffee machine at the office. None is interested in next season in their national competition.But preparation had already started. Referee Alexander Harkam’s training sessions started at June 10. “I didn’t really have a break, because the teams between the third and the last league stopped on the 12th of June.”
This is part 2 of an interview with Alexander Harkam. You can read part 1 in an previous post on the Dutch Referee blog.
Harkam: “I really hope that the next season will be as successful as the last.” The 28-year-old referee from Graz promoted in 2009 to the highest level in his country, the Austrian Bundesliga. He’s very satisfied with his first full season as a top class referee. And he has set himself a goal in his refereeing career. “Maybe there’s a possibility to be a Fifa referee in the next time.”
“We will see what will happens. It’s not possible to plan a career. You must have a little luck sometimes. But I will give the best every match. I’m 28 now, so there are 17 years left to become a Fifa referee (age limit for international referees is 45, jth). That’s still a long time for me.”
After the end of the season Harkam had to admit he was getting really tired because of the number of matches he officiated. Have a look at his match statistics in the highest Austrian leagues in the table below.
Table: Alexander Harkam’s stats of last season
|League||Matches||Yellow cards||2nd yellow||Red cards|
Although Harkam is not on the international list by Uefa, he’s got some experiences abroad. “The rules mention that you can be a fourth official for international matches if you are a referee in the top division.” That explains his role as fourth official in the World Cup preparation match between England and Japan, as mentioned in part 1 of this interview.But there’s more: “I was two times fourth official in the European Championship qualification U21. And abroad? A month ago I was referee in Italy between the U20 match from Italy against Switzerland. And I officiated once in Scotland, at the homeless World Cup 2005.”
Harkam watches the World Cup matches like all the other matches. “I look at the art of playing soccer, the style of refereeing, atmosphere around the pitch, and so on…” Before the World Cup has started he talked about the referees at the World Cup. “In my opinion the European referees are the best in the world. Because I think the best players around the world are playing in Europe.”
“The referees there have a lot of hard matches to handle.” In his opinion there are not so much differences between the top leagues. “What I mean is that, for example in the Premier League, there are five or six clubs which play a very good football and only one of them will be the champion. The same for Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Holland. The referees in the rest of the world, don’t have the same pressure every match.”
Alexander Harkam has plenty of time to reach his goal of becoming a Fifa referee. During the World Cup he can see a glimpse of his refereeing dream, when the referees take charge of the matches in the second round of this tournament. In the meantime he is working hard to reach his goal. But is it all fitness tests and training sessions for him now? No, there’s also time for relaxing. “What I do? Massage, relax, go on holiday with my family, go hiking, biking, swimming and very often to the spa.”
During the season I’ll try to review Harkam’s season till that moment. A Dutch friend suggested me to do previews (and evaluations) of the referees in the matches of The Netherlands at this World Cup. If you have any suggestion about people I should interview (maybe it’s you), interesting subjects (and so on). Please comment or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.