Between 31 May and 22 June, FIFA held three seminars to thoroughly prepare the 36 referees, 69 assistant referees and 24 video match officials from all six confederations chosen to officiate at the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The three-day seminars enabled officials from each confederation to come together in Asuncion, Doha and Madrid led by Pierluigi Collina, Chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, and Massimo Busacca, FIFA’s Director of Refereeing.
The match officials were put to the test in both theoretical classes and on-the-field training sessions each day, allowing the officials to simulate and practice various live-match situations. “Our objective is to prepare the referee as best as possible to avoid using technology, but technology is there to reduce the possibility of human mistake that can affect the outcome of a match. Even the best referee can make a mistake; he is a human being, and we know that” said Pierluigi Collina.
The successful delivery of the seminars on three continents was especially satisfying, considering during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, FIFA Refereeing had to move all education online.
For the selected match officials, their participation at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is the ultimate realisation of a professional dream. For Danny Makkelie of The Netherlands, one he’d had since childhood.
“When I received the invitation and confirmation that I had been selected with my team, this was an unbelievable feeling. When I started as a referee, I was 12 years old, and my goal was already that I wanted to reach the top, and I was dreaming of the World Cup,” said the Dutchman, who was also a Video Assistant Referee at the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
For assistant referee Karen Diaz (Mexico), she hopes being one of six pioneering women – alongside referees Stephanie Frappart (France), Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda), and Yoshimi Yamashita (Japan), and assistant referees Neuza Back (Brazil) and Kathryn Nesbitt (USA – to participate in a men’s FIFA World Cup, will open up opportunities for more women.
“I feel very happy, and very grateful to all the people that have given me this chance,” said Diaz. “We have to ensure that this time doesn’t become the only time that women are selected, but the first of many to come.”
The World Cup is now just under 100 days away. As Massimo Busacca concludes: “It’s like a football team; they have to prepare everything very well for the most important competition we have in the sport. I am positive. I expect a great World Cup. We know what we are doing. The sacrifice we are making, the seminars; talking and talking, is because we want to achieve a target. “
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