Collina: “Analyzing referees' mistakes is the key”
Pierluigi Collina, regarded by many as the best football referee ever and now retired Italian official, was a guest lecturer in Belgrade at the inaugural Intesa Academy.
"I miss refereeing a lot. I still dream of being able to get out on the pitch with my whistle in a next life, but I know it’s impossible," said Collina with a familiar smile. The Italian is, however, involved in refereeing in a different mode, as a member of the UEFA Referees Committee. "After three years in Italy as the head of the Referees Committee, I was called up by UEFA president Michel Platini. Our team is small, there are only three members. We deal with referee preparation, selection and assigning them to games. My aim, my hope is not to find a new Collina – the best referee in the world – but to create a group of referees who could live up to the task of officiating extremely important and difficult games.
The former top referee commented he is not someone who could discuss the issue whether goal-line technology should be accepted in football. "This is something the international board decides on. Still, in the past three years in the Europa League and two years in the Champions League we have had the additional fourth and fifth referee on the pitch, and it has yielded good results. It is not a question about only goal-line technology, but also the situations in the penalty area like holding, pulling the opponent’s shirt, pushing at corners and set pieces. Analyses have shown that players, when they know someone is watching them from behind, are much more careful and as a result, the number of undetected offences has been drastically reduced. This is why this practice will be used in the forthcoming European Championships." Collina agrees with the suggestion that illegal betting is a painful issue in today’s football. "UEFA is very careful when it comes to it. A special department is in charge of the situation, working together with national associations. If we lose the battle against illegal bookmakers, football is done – it would be the end of it. This is an extremely important issue, a touchy subject and UEFA are taking good care of anything related to betting."
Are today’s professional referees who officiate matches at the top level – such as the Champions League – the future of football? "It doesn’t matter if they are called professional referees. We cannot expect a ref who works until 5pm to go to a training session and do it perfectly, because they are tired from work. When preparing for a match, a referee needs to watch out for details, take notes, do research, look into the laws of the game and prepare himself psychologically for the match. If he or she works until five, then there is no chance they can do it."
Collina admits he made a few mistakes during his days. "I refereed a number of really important matches and I made mistakes. Making mistakes is an integral part of any job. What matters most for a referee is to analyze the mistakes analytically and establish the reasons why they made them so they reduce those situations to a minimum. This is the key."