- About PRO
June 13, 2014
By PRO Match Official Development Manager Brian Hall
Red. White. Blue. Black. Green. Yellow. Orange. There is a color for every person.
El Tri. Les Lions Indomptables. La Furia Roja. Socceroos. Les Elephants. Blue Samarai. Los Ticos. Three Lions. The Yanks. There is a catchy name to peak every person’s interest.
Colors, names, atmosphere, passion, joy, tears, heartbreak - all part of the FIFA World Cup. All part of what makes the World Cup the most exciting sporting event in the world.
For a referee, to be a part of this spectacle is a dream come true. A dream that is the culmination of a long journey spanning three years. A journey in which the referees experience the same emotions as the fans of the World Cup and its 32 teams.
For the three years leading up to Brazil, the 25 referees and 50 assistant referees have made significant sacrifices. Time away from the family. Pounds of sweat dropped on the track. Every decision examined under a microscope. Employers who often forget what the referee looks like because they have been away for weeks from the desk at a training symposium or at a tournament applying their trade for the chance to represent country, confederation and FIFA on the world stage.
But, when the FIFA anthem begins to vibrate throughout the stadium and the officiating crew leads the two teams through the tunnel onto the field, all the sacrifices and hours spent preparing seem miniscule. The moment has arrived. The dream is now a reality.
As the national anthems of the competing teams are piped through the loudspeaker of the stadium, the referee’s eyes roam the surroundings. The referee now realizes that he has arrived. He realizes that millions of eyes will be watching his every move and every decision. There will be over 30 cameras watching his every step and there will be thousands of media experts analyzing every decision in super slow-motion.
Think about this pressure. Think about the mental toughness it takes to manage the importance of the world’s most important sporting event – the FIFA World Cup.
Luckily, these World Cup referees have the innate ability to block all this out for 90-plus minutes. Once the first whistle of the game is blown, the referee sees and hears only what is going on between the four corner flags. The cheers and boos of the spectators are drowned out, as are the thoughts and pressures of the magnitude of the event and the task at hand.
This is what makes the 25 referee teams selected to the World Cup the best - the ability to focus and concentrate for 90 minutes and to manage the world’s most valuable soccer players.
They enter the tournament knowing that all 150,000 referees in the United States and Canada are carrying them on their shoulders. They are prepared. They know that you, their soccer family, are behind them.
On Saturday, June 14, let’s all sit around our televisions and cheer Mark, Sean and Joe on as they walk onto the field in Belo Horizonte and take the official match ball - the Adidas Brazuca - from the FIFA ball stand.
Geiger, Hurd and Fletcher will direct the orchestra in the Colombia versus Greece game.
There is no pressure...only opportunity.
This is Brian Hall's first blog of his World Cup series. To read the second blog, please click the link below.