- About PRO
July 27, 2014
PRO assistant referee George Gansner has stepped down as a FIFA official after 13 years on the panel.
The 42-year-old made the decision to come off the panel, despite not being at the maximum age for a FIFA official, after completing the 2014 FIFA World Cup cycle.
“My goal was to get through the 2014 cycle, whether I got to a World Cup or not,” Gansner told proreferees.com.
“After that I was always going to consider coming off, and now feels like the right time.
“Of course I would love to stay on the panel until I’m 45 but I think it makes more sense to step back and let somebody else have the opportunity.
“It will also allow me to spend more time with my family and that’s really important to me.”
Since his introduction to the panel in 2002, Gansner has been assigned to soccer games all over the world, in various competitions at a number of historic stadiums.
He has also worked alongside many officials from other nations who have become his good friends, considering this to be the highlight of his time as a FIFA assistant referee.
“To represent my country has been a great honor. The FIFA panel for referees is like making the national team as a player.
“The experiences I’ve had have been terrific and I wouldn’t change anything. I got to work at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City twice, and every World Cup qualifier has been special whether it’s been in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Canada, Panama or Mexico.
“I’ve met so many people along the way. I have made friends from Mexico, all through the Caribbean and several other countries, and I can message any of them on Facebook or pick up the phone and call them.
“Those relationships you build with people over time from going to tournaments is special.”
The assistant referee, who is from St. Louis, Missouri, has also witnessed a number of changes over the years.
The most significant of those, in his eyes, is the fitness requirements. And Gansner is looking at the possibility of helping with the development of officials when his activities on the field come to an end.
“Fitness has always been important - you’ve always had to be fit to be a good referee - but the fitness requirements have changed so much and they’ve gotten a lot tighter.
“As the fitness requirements get tighter, you still get older and in that sense it doesn’t get easier.
“PRO has been a tremendous step in helping with a lot of things that we’ve needed to improve, including fitness.
“The training programs we’ve done as ARs over the past two years have been very specific, which has been effective.
“We get to work with quality video in the reviewing stage and top-class fitness coaches to learn how to improve physically, not to mention the management side of PRO.
“I’d like to keep going a bit longer, although I’m not sure for how long, but I’ll keep that to myself for the time being.
“I’d like to head down the path of potentially becoming a FIFA instructor and really support the younger guys that are coming through.
“If we keep analyzing – like Paul Rejer does at PRO – and keep driving down that path of asking how and why, then we’ll see improvements. That’s an area I’d like to work in when I finally end my career.”
PRO General Manager Peter Walton added: "To maintain an International badge since 2002 is fantastic and proves his qualities not only as an official but also as a person.
"I am very pleased George is continuing in the domestic game, he is a tremendous asset to PRO."