The world’s best referee in 2008, Roberto Rosetti (Italy), and the best ever Canadian assistant referee, Hector Vergara, conducted a fascinating International Referee Symposium in Montreal.
Roberto Rosetti shared his experience with the participants. He began refereeing very early, when he was only 16 years old and reached the pinnacle of his career in 2008 by refereeing in the Euro Final, Spain - Germany. Rosetti used a very suggestive comparison, speaking about growing from a “chicken” to an “eagle”. In spite of having some “problems” when, as a very young referee, awarded a penalty kick against the home team in the last minute of the game, Rosetti moved on quickly and became even more ambitious. “Passion, confidence and courage are the keys of achieving the success,” said Rosetti. He was initially appointed only as a reserve referee for the 2006 World Cup, but De Santis was removed from the list because of the Calciopoli and Rosetti took his place. Rosetti was untainted by the match-fixing scandal which affected Italian football in 2006. Luciano Moggi, then general director of Juventus, had described Collina and Rosetti as being too “objective” in an intercepted telephone call. His very successful performances established him as one of the best referees in the world. He refereed the Euro 2008 final and three UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Last year, the Italian was one of the main candidates for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final, but one of his assistants made a major mistake in Argentina - Mexico. Although it was not his own mistake, Rosetti was sent home, according to FIFA’s trio policy. “As a trio, we celebrate successes together and we stick together in difficult times. My Italian colleagues wanted me to continue, but I felt that moment as it was the end of my career,” said Rosetti. Although age-eligible for Euro 2012, he took full responsibility and resigned. He was immediately offered the referee designator position in Serie B, which he accepted.
In a technical session, Rosetti presented various aspects regarding the handball, offside, penalty kick and sending-off offences. He mentioned the importance of the referee’s positioning, as well as having the courage to make critical decisions, by taking the correct decision in difficult situations rather than finding an easy way out. He illustrated those situations with video clips from the UEFA Champions League and Serie A. As a personal example, he mentioned the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup semi-final Estudiantes - Poohang Steelers, where he sent off three South Korean players: “As a referee, you need to be strong; you must recognize and punish right away such behaviour, which was closer to karate than to soccer”. On a different note, Rosetti seemed pleased with the implementation of the additional assistant referees. He said that FIFA will return to the classic diagonal in the 5-referee system that will be used at Euro 2012.
Hector Vergara started with an inspiring presentation about his participation in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where he was one of the assistant referees in Benito Archundia’s trio. Vergara and Archundia were also paired up in Germany four years ago where they reached the semi-final. Their goal for South Africa was to officiate the final. Being a Mexican-Canadian combination, they did not have many chances to work together in the qualifying matches. Prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Vergara travelled to Mexico at his own expense. Together with his two Mexican colleagues, Benito Archundia and Marvin Torrentera, they spent a week together, training and preparing for their journey at the upcoming World Cup. “We wanted to be as prepared as we possibly could”, said Vergara, who underlined that they went to the 2010 World Cup with the intention of refereeing the final. After a long wait, they started the tournament with a sensitive situation in the 25th second of the match Italy - Paraguay. In spite of that, both teams showed respect and trust in the referees’ abilities and that game went on without any problems. After another long wait, they got a second game, Brazil - Portugal, with another excellent performance, which entitled them to hope for the final. At the end, it was disappointing – they were appointed to the third place match. Vergara has written himself into Canadian soccer history as the only referee or assistant referee with three World Cups under his belt.
The most decorated Canadian official conducted a practical session and also offered advice for developing a career in refereeing. “You can control 99% of your career”, stressed Vergara in front of all referees who attended the seminar. He offered his own example, as a young and ambitious referee in Canada. “Since, at that time, there were not many opportunities available, I took my whistle and my flag and went to the park. I was the only person on the field, whistling and doing various drills. It might have looked silly, but I was fully aware that I had to do that if I wanted to go far in refereeing,” said Vergara. He then spoke about various aspects of preparation as a referee: regularly reading the laws of the game, training, relaxation exercises, watching soccer games and, of course, gaining experience by refereeing. “The experience can only come through refereeing, so you should referee regularly. Be very careful though, since doing too many games will affect you mentally, if not physically as well”. He suggested that competitive referees should not officiate more than 1-2 games per week. Hector feels that it is important for young referees to aspire and “dream big”. He emphasized that setting goals along the way is a good approach to reaching your big dream. Having refereed at three straight World Cups, Vergara has certainly set plenty of goals along the way and achieved every referee’s dream.