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PRO Officials attend CONCACAF Symposium

Nov 7, 2013

A group of PRO officials recently attended the first CONCACAF International Referee Symposium in Mexico City, Mexico.

The event was held over the weekend of October 12th and 13th, aimed at improving the standard of professional football refereeing across the region and it marked another step forward for the confederation in its drive to improve standards through education and support.

The messages delivered by CONCACAF at the course reinforced those that PRO has been giving to its match officials throughout the year.

Leading refereeing figures Pierluigi Collina, Arturo Brizio Carter, and Brian Hall were present at the Symposium to lend their experience and guidance.

CONCACAF General Secretary Enrique Sanz told "At CONCACAF we are proud to assist in the training of these top-level referees at this first International Referee Symposium. 

“These officials hold the responsibility in our region of preserving the delicate balance of the laws governing football on the pitch. It is therefore our priority to develop professionals who will enhance the ability of our players to perform through exemplary management of the rules for each game."

Attendees from the Professional Referee Organization included Drew Fischer, Geoff Gamble, Mathieu Bourdeau, Ismail Elfath, Fotis Bazakos, Jose Carlos Rivero, and FIFA U.S. Referee Christina Unkel.

The Symposium also included visiting the famous Azteca Stadium for the World Cup qualifier between Mexico and Panama. 

Read the thoughts of some of the PRO attendees below.


Geoff Gamble: “From the Symposium I learnt that CONCACAF is starting to look to the future for referees. 

“Of course, they are focused on the present but they must always keep an eye on the future and have a succession plan in place.  

“What was most interesting was the words of former FIFA referee Pierluigi Collina, who explained that far too often countries and associations are focused on the present and lack the vision of the future. 

“I think the Professional Referee Organization is working towards improving officiating in the present but also for the future.

"The atmosphere in the stadium for the World Cup qualifier between Mexico and Panama was unreal. It was a great opportunity to observe the referee crew work at the highest level based on the magnitude of the match.

Drew Fischer: “Overall, it was fantastic to have the opportunity to be involved in the seminar. 

“The organization and treatment we received throughout was top class and well thought through. It was great to be a part educational sessions led by one of the top instructors in the region - Peter Prendergast - on critical issues including recognizing challenges, and handball. 

“We also had the opportunity to work with Alan Morgan Brown who is a FIFA Fitness Instructor and whose instruction served to reinforce the messages that PRO Sport Scientist Matt Hawkey has been delivering to us throughout this season. 

“Finally, we had the opportunity to discuss the demands on the modern referee from one of the best referees of all time - Pierluigi Collina. 

“All of this combined into a fantastic seminar.  The overall theme of the seminar from CONCACAF was 'experience it'. As communicated to us, the group of referees that attended represent the future of CONCACAF, and the intent was to introduce the group to the CONCACAF environment. 

“This included both the seminar itself, and the environment that CONCACAF seeks to create, but also the opportunity to experience a match in one of the largest stadiums in the world – the Azteca Stadium - in a pressure-packed environment where Mexico needed a win to have a chance of qualifying for the World Cup.”

Ismail Elfath: “The seminar was a great experience for me for many reasons. 

“Pierluigi Collina is one of the best referees in the history of the game and he shared a key message to us: what does it take to be a top world class referee? 

“Amongst many points, 'preparation' stood out for me so I took it with me to incorporate into my officiating career.

“And that's not just physical and mental preparation but also detailed game scenario preparation and player match-ups and team tactics, so that nothing that could happen during the match is a surprise.

“When certain scenarios happen in the future, I will be able to draw on my in-detail preparation to know exactly how to handle it.

“Attending the crucial World Cup qualifier in the Azteca Stadium between Mexico and Panama was an eye-opening experience.

“It allowed me to experience what it feels like to be in the middle of an overwhelming atmosphere and pressure, from a refereeing perspective.”

Jose Carlos Rivero:  “It was a great experience to learn what CONCACAF and FIFA are looking for in a modern referee. 

“We all know that the world is changing and the players are changing, and we have to change, too, so we can all make the game better. 

“The rules have minimal changes but the speed of the game is transforming immensely, so referees should move forward with it.
“I learnt many things, the main one being that becoming a professional referee starts at home; in your eating style, living style, and training. All of that mixed together, along with knowledge of the rules, is how to be the modern referee.

“Also, they taught us how to protect ourselves with the media and how not to let your mind focus on it, because sometimes the media has a big impact on a referee.

“We had a training section on the field on how CONCACAF want their referees to train and what their expectations are, and I really liked it - it was a new format of training and very good.

“Overall I am blessed to have had the opportunity to go to the Symposium and I came out with a better view on the modern referee, with a lot of tools on how to improve and become a better official.”

Read Fotis Bazakos' CONCACAF International Referee Symposium blog by clicking here

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