Cann: “We felt more pressure in Brazil vs Chile than any other game”

After being selected by FIFA to stay out in Brazil until the very end of the tournament along with English referee Howard Webb and his fellow assistant Michael Mullarkey, Darren Cann has now returned to his home in Norfolk and has been speaking to us about the experience of his last World Cup.
- So, having just touched back down in the UK, what are your abiding memories about Brazil 2014?
- DC: The experience was absolutely fabulous and we were so blessed to be part of a World Cup in Brazil. England is the home of football, but I guess that Brazil is probably the next best thing – a country which has a great passion for the beautiful game. It was incredible to referee Brazil at their home World Cup, and my abiding memory is of walking out onto the pitch on the day of their last 16 match against Chile. Brazil is a fantastic country. We were really well looked after and the people were so friendly. It really was a dream come true to play a small part in the World Cup in Brazil, the first they have hosted since 1950.
- You had to wait some time, until game 21, before getting your first taste of the competition. Was that easy to manage?
- DC: Like any refereeing trio we hoped to be used early in the competition, but it wasn’t to be. Whilst it was a little bit frustrating, we are professional so we trained really hard every day, applying ourselves day in, day out, so that we were ready when needed. We didn’t get bored at all – FIFA provide lots for us to do and the table tennis table, gym and table football got plenty of use! We are all massive football fans and keenly watched all of the World Cup matches too, so the days flew by. We eventually got the call to referee the potentially difficult match of Colombia vs Ivory Coast, which actually went very well.
- You mentioned the Brazil vs Chile game earlier. One of the features on the tournament was the South American teams continuing to sing after the music had finished for their anthems – what was that like?!
- DC: It was probably the most passionate football stadium atmosphere I’ve ever been in. We walked out and the fans of both countries made noise like I’ve never heard. It was even more deafening than the World Cup Final in 2010, an incredible atmosphere. Like you say the fans and players continued to sing their Nation Anthems long after the music had stopped, making each anthem last a couple of minutes each! It’s something we’ll never experience again and it tells you everything about the passion of the supporters and how determined they were to cheer their team to victory. It proved to be one of the best, and most competitive, games of the tournament too, going to extra time and penalties.
- Yes, and it must have been pleasing to once again get all the big decisions right. There was a call for a handball against Brazil’s Hulk, but one that was proved to be correct by replays and pundit opinions alike…
- DC: Howard deserves great credit for that. It was his call to give the handball against Hulk and to disallow that goal and, like you say, replays showed that he was correct. It was a difficult call at the time because he was perhaps a few metres further away than he would have liked, but he used all of his experience and just had the viewing angle to allow him to give the handball. Of course, it’s going to be an unpopular decision against the host nation, but a referee’s job is to be fair and impartial at all times and we always are. As it happened Brazil went through anyway (on penalties) so it didn’t actually materially affect the outcome, but it’s important to make the right call and Howard certainly did that using all his skill and experience. It was a really pressurised situation. We felt more pressure in that game than probably any other game in our career. The match was built up by the Brazilian press, as Chile had played very well in the tournament up until then. It certainly needed refereeing and it was of the most intense games we’ve ever officiated.
- You were kept on until the very end of the tournament, so you might have been hoping to get a third appointment. Were you disappointed not to?
- DC: FIFA were delighted with the way we refereed the Brazil vs Chile game and at the time we certainly didn’t think it would be our last game in the World Cup, but unfortunately it turned out that way. We just carried on training each day and, when the quarter-finals were announced and we didn’t get a game, we hoped for a semi-final. However when we saw the four teams in the semis it looked unlikely that we’d get another game. Brazil were in one semi-final and we’d only just refereed them the week before, so that pretty much ruled us out of that one, and it always looked unlikely that we would get Holland vs Argentina. Also as we’d already refereed the World Cup Final in South Africa (and therefore couldn’t referee The Final again) we knew that it would be the end of our tournament. Of course we’d have liked to have refereed a semi-final, but it wasn’t to be. We’re really lucky to have been at two World Cups though and to have refereed matches that have gone so well. To referee Brazil in Brazil in our last ever World Cup game was special. The three of us are all too old for Russia in 2018 so this is the end of our World Cup careers. We got 22 handshakes after the Brazil vs Chile game and both managers were very happy with how the game was officiated as well. Looking back, it really was a perfect way to end our World Cup careers and we have some really great memories from 2010 and 2014. As it turned out, by staying until the end of the tournament we were also able to have dinner with the Italian trio after their appointment to the Final just 48 hours before kick-off. That was a really special and unique moment – the first time ever that a World Cup trio had been present to be able to pass on all of their experiences of what it’s actually like to walk out and officiate the World Cup Final.

Source: Norfolk FA