Stark: "The public pressure is rising"

Wolfgang Stark (Germany) is one of the 12 referees selected for the upcoming UEFA Euro 2012 and recently answered questions during the official media day for referees in Warsaw, Poland.
- UEFA has imposed a strict ban on interviews for the Euro 2012 match officials. Are you happy about this measure or do you consider it exaggerated?
- It is always a two-edged sword, but I am pleased, as our main occupation is to referee matches. The pressure will be very high. For this reason, it is a good measure for the referees, who will be able to focus on their refereeing.
- Has the pressure become bigger due to the Internet? For example, on Facebook, there are groups aimed at discrediting referees. Do you have a bearing on that?
- Of course, the public pressure is rising. However, concerning Facebook, I have to say that this does not affect me at all, since I do not have a Facebook account. In spite of that, I do certainly know what is said there. The pressure has increased during the last year, but the referees who were selected for Euro have enough experience to cope with that. I have managed that in the past years and I am confident that I will manage that again in Poland/Ukraine.
- For the first time, additional assistant referees will be deployed at a big tournament. Is that the future or more likely the technology favoured by FIFA?
- We have to wait and analyze the things after the Euro. Everybody is very, very well prepared for this tournament. Naturally, mistakes occur, but as soon as there is a good decision made by an additional assistant referee, their inset was justified. I am not responsible for deciding whether it will be continued or not.
- Ukraine, as a state, is heavily criticized. There were voices that urged for a boycott. What is your opinion about the recent discussions?
- Of course, we saw that in the media. But my task is a different one. Let me concentrate on my matches. My main task is to referee decent matches, to show good performances. I want to divide politics and sports in a very clear way. I am serving the sports part at this tournament.
- Do you fear for a lack of safety in Ukraine?
- No. I think everything is done to ensure that we will be safely lodged and that we will travel safely to our matches. At home, something could happen too, no one is invulnerable. But I do not think about a possible lack of safety.
- Due to the age limit, it will be your last European Championship for sure. For whom are you cheering: the German national team or the referee Wolfgang Stark? Only one can get into the final...
- I firstly concentrate on my matches. We have to await the course of events in the tournament. Of course, I keep my fingers crossed for the German team, since as a referee you are a football fan yourself. But it does not automatically mean that, if the German team fails, then the German referee team will get the final.

Source: Reuters