Collina: “Fans will have no influence”

Legendary ex-referee Pierluigi Collina spoke to Eurosport about the experience of refereeing a Champions League final, as Pedro Proenca prepares to take charge of Bayern – Chelsea. Collina, 52, was the man in the middle in 1999 when Bayern snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in dramatic fashion, losing 2-1 to stoppage time goals from Manchester United strikers Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. With the 2002 World Cup final on his resume - another miserable day for Germany as the national side fell to Brazil - as well as the 2004 UEFA Cup final and countless other big matches between 1995 and 2005, the Italian knows a thing or two about high-pressure and big money environments. And the retired Collina was happy to provide some insight on one of the pinnacles of his former profession ahead of Portuguese official Proenca's induction into an exclusive club when he takes charge of the 2012 final at the Allianz Arena.
- How does a referee prepare for a Champions League final?
- I would say that it's like every game because every game is important, but for the Champions League final there's much more attention and great care about preparation, which is complex because it's not only about the rules of the game, interpretation and physical condition. There's a technical aspect too: the referee has to know the teams involved, tactically and individually. He has to know how the game will develop, always being one step ahead. From this point of view, a Champions League final is a bit easier, because the referee could have been involved previously in some matches with the teams involved. It's not difficult to find the necessary information to read the game and moreover UEFA always provides the right material to complete the view. Finally there's the mental preparation, but this is personal and subjective for every single referee.
- Fans from all over the world play a major role in big games. What kind of influence do the fans of both teams have on the referee?
- There's no fans influence - zero! The referee is 100% concentrated on the match, so all the things that happen around the game have absolutely no influence. I think the best way to deal with it is to do your job naturally, focusing on your task. It should be the same for the players too. Obviously, again, it can be subjective, but from my personal point of view the influence is zero.
- This match will be full of emotions. It is about fame and above all about a lot of money. How does a referee handle this immense pressure?
- Football at the highest level is a sport about “super-professionals”, with so many interests, economical ones too. The referee really has a great responsibility and has to be aware of all that stuff. Preparation and experience help to deal with this kind of responsibility. Preparation is key because if the referee is well prepared, then he's ready to deal with his task and it's easier for him to handle the pressure.
- How does a referee consider the individual characters of both teams in such a final in his preparation for the match?
- The psychological aspect is a key factor in this kind of important matches. The referee has to be smart to understand the behaviour of the players in the game to deal with it in the perfect way. But the referee's task is to make sure the rules are respected, so he has to be ready to make unpopular decisions if he feels they're the right ones.
- You have been the referee in the Champions League final 1999 between Bayern and Manchester United. What did you have in your mind in the last two minutes?
- I think I experienced the two most thrilling minutes in Champions League history, with those two goals in stoppage time which turned the result around. That moment represented the essence of emotions, in different ways: happiness on one side, the contrary on the other one. And even for a neutral person like me it was an unforgettable emotion.
- How important is the experience of a referee on this final?
- It's an important element. It's something a referee really needs in a Champions League final. It's impossible to assign a match like this to a young or inexperienced referee. You have to be ready, so you need previous experience in major club and international matches.

Source: Eurosport