World Cup referee facts and statistics

Referees in this World Cup are mild to the players according to the card stats. They’ve given 101 yellows and 9 reds after 29 matches. Remarkable is the low average of yellow cards (3.5 per match), especcially when you compare it with the average of 4.8 cards per match at the World Cup in Germany in 2006.

I’ve tried to find some interesting referee facts (with the help of Fifa statistics). First the World Cup 2010 referee facts:

Tallest referee
Wolfgang Stark (Germany) with 191 cm

Shortest referee
Joel Aguilar (El Salvador) and Benito Archundia (Mexico), both 170 cm

Average height
181,3 cm

Longest international career
Benito Archundia since 1993

Shortest international career
Michael Hester since 2007

International since (youngest)
Five referees started refereeing international matches when they were 26 years old: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan), Joel Aguilar (El Salvador), Marco Rodriguez (Mexico), Pablo Pozo (Chile) and Oscar Ruiz (Colombia).

International since (oldest)
Stephane Lannoy at the age of 37

Birthdays during World Cup 2010
Frank de Bleeckere will become 44 on the 1st of July.
Joel Aguilar will become 35 on the 2nd of July.
Koman Coulibaly will become 40 on the 4th of July.

Countries who make theire refereeing debut
El Salvador: Joel Aguilar
Malaysia: Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh
New Zealand: Michael Hester and Peter O’Leary
Seychelles: Eddy Maillet
Uzbekistan: Ravshan Irmatov

World Cup 2010 match with the most cards (including 20th June)
Germany – Serbia with referee Albert Undiano (Spain): 5 yellow cards for Germany (including two yellows for Miroslav Klose) and 4 yellow cards for Serbia.

Facts about the World Cup referees in general.

Most World Cup matches
Joel Quiniou from France officiated eight matches at three different World Cups: 1 match in 1986 (Mexico), 3 matches in 1990 (Italy) and 4 matches in 1994 (USA).

Archundia in action in Leipzig at the 2006 World Cup. Photo Matthias Book Creative Commons

Most matches at one World Cup
Benito Archundia (Mexico) and Horacio Elizondo (Argentina) refereed five matches in only one tournament, both at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Archundia was the first with five matches in one tournament; Elizondo officiated in the final.

Most red cards by one referee at World Cup tournaments
Mexican referee, Arturo Brizio Carter, holds the record for sending off seven players in the six matches that he officiated in 1994 and 1998.

First referee who officiated the opening match as well as the final of the same World Cup
Horacio Elizondo was appointed for the opening match and the final at the World Cup 2006 in Germany. In the final he send off Zinedine Zidane after headbutting Marco Materazzi.

Fifa adds a note to the last fact: “In 1950 the Englishman George Reader directed the inaugural match Brazil-Mexico and also the last match of the final group Uruguay-Brazil but this one not technically considered as a final.”

Golden medal for the referees at the World Cup

Unlike goalies and the Jabulani ball, the referees are going unnoticed at the World Cup.

Written by Valdir Bicudo, a befriended Brazilian journalist and referee commentator at Parana Online. It’s his round-up after the first round at this World Cup.

Logo of Bicudo's blog De olho no apito

In an interview with Fifa spokesman Nicolaz Maingot last Tuesday, when he traveled between Pretoria and Johannesburg, told that the performance of referees and assistants in the early matches of World Cup in South Africa were highly impressive.

According to Maingot, Fifa, the entity that handles the football on the planet, has done efforts as never showed before to improve arbitration at the World Cup. For example the implementation of fixed arbitration trios from the same country, who are talking the same language and, thus, decreasing misconceptions within the field.

Fifa is proud because there are no problems with the performance of the officials, said the spokesman, especially because no one’s talking about the officials and everything is going smoothly.

Unlike the goalkeepers, who are failing in some games, and the Jabulani (the name of the ball in the World Cup, vb), which is said to have severe restrictions. But until the present moment the referees are accepted, despite they’ve already given four red cards, which means a average of 0.4 cards per game.

Noting the majority of matches this World Cup Soccer, I found that a several factors were essential for the optimal development of the referees. Their self-control reaches perfection and that helps a lot with making decisions on the field in the different situations during the matches.

I have noticed that both referees and assistants are keeping a grip on themselves. Not that long ago I noticed a relentless attitude when they officiated in Fifa competitions. This change is the work of Werner Helsen, a professor at the University Louvre (Belgium) who trained the referees from Fifa and Uefa.

In the case of assistants, who are delegated the very difficult task to mark the obstruction, I must say they make good calls. In addition to that, I’d like to stress that the teamwork, the positioning of the assistants and the integration among the members of the refereeing team is very good. These results are even more promising for the second stage of the world, with a marked increase in the quality of refereeing ..

What also should be noted is the magnificent work done by the Spanish professor Jose Maria Garcia Aranda, who’s responsible for technical preparation of the arbitration, and furthermore for his influence in displaying representative trio’s in a competition with the magnitude of a World Cup.

PS: Ravshan Irmatov (Fifa-Uzbekistan) and Carlos Eugenio Simon (Fifa-Brazil) showed, until the beginning of the second inning, the best performance in decision-making in the field of play. The hit rate of both exceeded 93% in the games that they worked.

This guest blog is translated from Portugese. Mistranslations are my bad, but you can find the original text on Bicudo’s blog. I’m very happy we could exchange copy for our blogs. If you have a good idea for a guest blog, you are more than welcome.

World Cup referees are important for New Zealand

Two head referees from the same country at the same World Cup tournament is quite unique. This year there are three countries which provide more than one refereeing team: Uruguay (Larrionda and Vazquez), Mexico (Archundia and Rodriguez) and New Zealand (Hester and O’Leary).

The situation for the latter country is a more exceptional. There was never a referee from the New Zealand leading a match. Michael Hester from Auckland (NZ) had the premiere in last week’s World Cup match between South Korea and Greece. The Dutch Referee blog contacted Ken Wallace, the New Zealand Football Referee Development Officer. In this interview he talks about about refereeing in New Zealand and the importances of having two national referees at this World Cup.

At the World Cup in South Korea and Japan in 2002 assistant referee Paul Smith was the first and only match official from New Zealand who ever officiated at a global tournament. Michael Hester was the first Kiwi who was in full charge of a game at such a tournament. Peter O’Leary has been only a fourth official so far. How important is it for New Zealand that two referees represent the country at the World Cup?

Wallace: “It is important for all countries as it shows there is a clear pathway that leads from local parks to the biggest football tournament in the world. Potential recruits and current referees can see on tv the guys they know or can relate to. Michael Hester and Peter O’Leary have been excellent role models and have accepted their responsibility to promote football and refereeing in NZ.”

How did Michael Hester perform in last week’s match between South Korea and Greece?

“Michael Hester and his team did well. The game was easy, fair and safe and the result was determined by the players.”

Some media in Europe dislike referees who are not from Europe or South America. They say Asian, African en Oceanian referees are not good enough, because they never officiated under such a high pressure as in for example the Champions League. Do you agree with that?

“Many games have pressure but all games are played on a pitch with the same markings, according to the same laws and with 22 legs on one team and 22 legs on the other. All referees make incorrect decisions and occasionally have poor games whether or not they are refereeing in the Champions League, have refereed in the Champions League or will never referee in that competition.”

Is there any difference between the NZ referees and for example the European referees in training style or preparation?

“The game in NZ is amateur and all referees have other jobs. Referee development and training takes place at night after work or at the weekend. The FIFA Development Programme for the 2010 World Cup has been an excellent programme and has ensured that all the World Cup candidates have been able to get the same coaching and development activities.”

What’s the future of NZ refereeing?

“Referee development is simply about more and better. We want more referees and we want to make our existing cohort better. FIFA’s development programmes have been important in getting greater world-wide consistency and uniformity in the interpretation and application of the Laws of the Game. This has helped referees and given greater certainty to players and coaches.”

In Holland we’ve always problems of getting referees for all matches. Are there enough people interested in a refereeing career in your country?

“We need more referees.”

The New Zealand referees have appointments as 4th officials in the matches 17-24 at this World Cup. Hester will assist in the match between England and Algeria and O’Leary in the game France-Mexico. The appointments for the final matches in the group stages will follow next week.

WC refs prepare in the luxury of hotel Kievits Kroon

Tomorrow starts an exciting month with the kick-off of the World Cup in South Africa at 4pm local time. All the teams are preparing for the their first match at the World Cup. They’ve to work under great pressure and have to cope with late injuries, even the referee teams.

The tension is high, maybe in particular for the referees, because everyone is ready to make a judgement. Last week the referees of the first matches were announced. They’re all looking forward to a great tournament, maybe refereeing the final as the cherry on the cake. But how do they prepare for their matches? Krista North, Sales & Marketing manager of hotel Kievits Kroon, tells about the facilities and security in the referee hotel.

Krista North

Krista North (middle) after winning an AA Award for their hotel Kievits Kroon Photo provided by hotel

Please introduce yourself to the readers of the Dutch Referee blog.
I am the Sales & Marketing Manager for Kievits Kroon and in this position responsible for all things related to these areas, these include the sales for all departments in the hotel, conference rooms, bedrooms, spa and restaurants, and I have been involved in the selection and negotiation process with Match and FIFA for the referees to come to Kievits Kroon.

Who’s your favourite referee?
“I can’t say we have a favourite referee, all the referees are extremely nice and friendly to everyone at the hotel. They also seem to be such a close group, they get on very well with each other.”

How does it feel to have such a special guests in your hotel?
“This is a very special group of guests for Kievits Kroon. We had the pleasure in having them to the stay also in 2009 for the Confederations Cup and have found that the referees and FIFA are extremely pleasant guests to have staying with us. We feel we are involved in a small way in the enormous organisation that is the World Cup and have to make sure that all our guests are comfortable and enjoy their time on the estate, in order for them to perform their best during the tournament.”

Estate entrance of hotel Kievits Kroon Photo provided by hotel

What security measures did you take to guarantee the referee’s safety?
“We did not take any extra security measures, as a standard we have electric fencing on the perimeters of the estate and our security guards patrol the estate. All visitors are always registered at the entrance to the estate and announced to the person they are visiting on the estate. All other additional security measures have been implemented by the South African Police Services (SAPS).

What makes Kievits Kroon a good living for the referees during their time in South Africa?
“Kievits Kroon is located just outside of Pretoria in the countryside, and a secure and private home away from home for the referees. Our proximity is still within driving distance from all stadia in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Rustenburg and easy driving distance to the airport for the trip to the other stadia in South Africa. We are also located in the Highveld, which means an altitude of 1600m above sea level and this is also beneficial for any sports person. Some of the reasons of FIFA to choose Kievits Kroon as the venue for the referees was the fact that they have booked the estate exclusively, all bedrooms are of a very high standard, the main restaurant offers space for the whole group at one time, and our conference rooms work well for the groups as office space.”

How do you help referees in their match preparation?
“Our menus in the restaurants for the meals did not have to be changed very much, we offer many options on the buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it is up to the referee to make his choice for the meals, it depends on their requirements. We have a lot of space and gardens on the estate which are used for relaxation mostly, training facilities are in a different location. We have a health spa on the estate which has award winning thermae facilities (sauna, steam room, jacuzzi’s, Swiss showers and indoor heated pool) which the referees like to spend time in.”

“I would say our contribution to the preparation of the referees for the matches is to make sure that their home away from home is very comfortable and relaxing.”

Watch hotel Kievits Kroon on Google Streetview.

World Cup referees announced for first matches

Fifa confirmed that Ravshan Irmatov will be the referee of the opening at the World Cup between South Africa and Mexico. Referee Pozo from Chile is injured and has been replaced.

See the revised list below:

Match Referee (Country)
South Africa – Mexico Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
Uruguay – France Yuichi Nishimura (Japan)
Argentina – Nigeria Wolfgang Stark (Germany)
Korea – Greece Michael Hester (New Zealand)
England – USA Carlos Simon (Brazil)
Algeria – Slovenia Carlos Alberto Batres (Chile) *See Update 2 below
Germany – Australia Marco Rodriguez (Mexico)
Serbia – Ghana Hector Baldassi (Argentina)
Netherlands – Denmark Stephane Lannoy (France)
Japan – Cameroon Olegario Benquerenca (Portugal)
Italy – Paraguay Benito Archundia (Mexico)
New Zealand – Slovakia Jerome Damon (South Africa)
Ivory Coast – Portugal Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay)
Brazil – Republic Korea Viktor Kassai (Hungary)
Honduras – Chile Eddy Maillet (Seychelles)
Spain – Switzerland Howard Webb (England)

Update: Fifa has published a pdf-file with more details about the assistants and the matches on it’s website.

*Update 2: Press announcement by Fifa:

Due to an injury of the Referee POZO QUINTEROS Pablo (CHI) the trio from Chile will have to be replaced by the following trio:

Referee: BATRES Carlos Alberto (GUA)
Assistant Referee 1: LEAL Leonel (CRC)
Assistant Referee 2: PASTRANA Carlos (HON)

Match: GER – AUS, Match Date: 13.06.2010, Match No. 7

The Fourth Official of this match will be HANSSON Martin (SWE).

Pretoria, 8 June 2010
FIFA Refereeing Department