The Malta Independent 20 October 2019, Sunday

Pierluigi Collina tells local referees to be prepared for any kind of match

Henry Brincat Saturday, 21 January 2017, 12:45 Last update: about 4 years ago

Former top international referee Pierluigi Collina, of Italy, yesterday told referees, assistants and students, wishing to make a career out of football refereeing, to be prepared for any kind of football match.

He was speaking at a well-attended lecture at the Malta Hilton where the audience also included local football referees’ observers.

He laid the emphasis on the four pillars on which referees are mainly gauged - fitness, knowledge of the Rules of the Game, Information and Teamwork.

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In brief, he said fitness was one of the main items. He added; “If a referee is fully fit, he or she will make fewer mistakes.

“On the contrary, if a referee is tired near the end of the match because he/she is not well trained, then the official may commit a mistake which may be crucial.”

Collina said it was also very important for every referee to know the Rules of the Game inside out. “You all have to be updated with these Laws as these help you to avoid making mistakes,” he said.

When speaking on information, he said referees must be well prepared even mentally before every match they control, whether it is a World Cup final or any other ordinary match. “You have to gather the best information on the two teams playing under your charge. That means you have to know how they play – their style and their system,” he added.

Producing two excellent examples, he showed the audience how easy it would be for any official to avoid mistakes during freekicks, if they were to know the tactics used by the clubs, in almost every match they play.

Collina also said that teamwork was very important for a referee to be successful. “Unless there is a good understanding between the four or six officials controlling a match, it would be difficult to achieve success. The work of the assistant in this regard is very important. Their contribution – working as a team with the referee – usually produces an excellent result,” he said.

Collina also told those present that before a match they should be in the best shape possible. “Be self-confident and then you will certainly know what you are doing. You have to take decisions and these can be right or wrong. If they are wrong, just forget about the mistakes and think ahead positively,” he said.

Asked what his best career experience was, he did not mention any match, saying only that “I controlled several top matches.”

But he went on to say how he had become a referee. When he was 17/18 years old, he was told by his classmate at school to join him for a football referees’ course and he accepted, thinking that it would be six months and it would be all over.

He added: “I thought I would seek another job because at that time, I was not really interested in football refereeing. Then, I was not yet convinced that I could make a career in refereeing. But you all know what happened later,” he said.

He went on to say that in 1984, when he was already being considered as a promising young referee, someone wanted to stop me. “This happened because I suffered from an illness which led me to lose all my hair. Then, bald heads were not so fashionable and the association told me to have a break for a couple of months, hoping that my hair would return.

“When these two months passed and I still remained bald, I was kept waiting, but at the end, they accepted to give me a test – controlling a match in front of

a crowd of 6,000 people – to see how the crowd would react.

“Of course, no one was interested in my head. All they wanted to see was a game of football,” he said.

He concluded by saying that someone had tried to make an issue out of it, but fortunately it went through.

Collina, who is the UEFA referees chief officer, was last Thursday appointed as FIFA’s Referees’ Committee Chairman.

Asked whether this new appointment at FIFA will have any effect on his UEFA duties, he would make no comment.

Collina had an outstanding career as a football referee. He is considered as the best referee of all time after having been named as Best Referee of the Year by FIFA six times from 1998 to 2003.

Among the many top matches he controlled were the 1998 European Champions Cup final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich and the 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany.w

Photos: Domenic Aquilina

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