FIFA: Referees must “smell” the game

At the FIFA Technical Conference held in Panama for representatives of CONMEBOL and CONCACAF one of the juiciest discourses was conducted by Massimo Busacca, the FIFA Head of Refereeing. Not only for what he expressed, but also for the consultations with the participants. The interesting chat with Busacca had to be stopped by the moderators of the Conference for reasons of time and programming but with the promise that the dialogue would continue.
Busacca gave an overview of the task by management noting that "the FIFA Referees Committee assigned 25 three-person referee teams and 8 support teams from 43 countries. Training and monitoring of these referees began in 2012 under the project entitled "Road to Brazil." He highlighted in this regard that "the technical and physical activities were supported by strict medical supervision." He cited as a high point "the meetings with coaches and representatives of all the selections in Florianópolis. We seek to clarify several key points and it seems important that players, coaches and referees can talk about sportsmanship. In Brazil these meetings were repeated with each of the teams with a full squad of players and coaching staff. These meetings were important not only from a technical point of view but also to have direct communication. It is good to develop a relationship of mutual respect on and off the field." He cited significant progress in "goal line technology and the use of spray to mark the position for a free kick." "In the case of goal line technology, it allowed us to check twice that the ball went over the line and in the case of the spray it helped locate the wall in the right place and that it stayed there. That's good for the player who takes the free kick and also so the players won't creep forward and get yellow cards."
“We are the 33rd team and we also try to have the best 'players”
Busacca went on to say that "we (referees) are the 33rd team and what we want is the same as the coaches of the other 32 teams. We also want to have the best on our team and for that we work on all aspects. The same as on any team not all are at the same level not all are 'number 10'. There are some with higher skills and others who don't have that. If a referee naturally has these skills everything is easier but if not you have to work more." About a referees preparation for a World Cup he said that "today it's not enough just the technical, physical and medical preparation. Today a referee requires much knowledge of the game, the characteristics of the teams, players, tactics. It is very important that the referee reads the game which allows him to anticipate what might happen and that requires a lot of concentration and a lot of knowledge of the game and the teams that are playing. In the physical part it doesn't matter that he runs a lot but that he runs well."
“It is essential that a referee has a football mentality”
Referring to the practical part of refereeing, Busacca said "it is essential that the referee has a football mentality. That he really knows the game and not just the rules, that he understands what happens, why it happens and how it happens, that he can interpret every action of the game and here we return to what we have already said, there are referees who have that gift, who have that knowledge, that feel the game that way and others that don't. We often say that the referee should have a nose for football, he must "smell" the game, have that "feeling" that lets him know how to act at all times. We look for the ref to do everything as simply as possible, with plenty of communication, a good relationship, trying to prevent what can be prevented and to avoid what can be avoided. We seek to protect the players and the image of the game, sportsmanship, fair play and respect." 
Open dialogue = transparency 
When it was time for questions the exchange with the participants had very nice moments, laden with football essence as, for example, when the national coach of Mexico, Miguel Herrera, inquired again about something that was mentioned in the course of the World Cup and that has to do with what in Mexico are called "los clavados" (dives) and in South America is called "jumping into the pool." In particular he referred to "the Robben case". He also wondered why in decisive games that a referee is used from the same continent as one of the teams. Busacca responded that "it would be very difficult to comment on each of the games and each of the calls. We seek to eliminate errors but we know that there will be some and we ask forgiveness. We are sorry because we know perfectly well that a mistake can decide classification or elimination. It hurts a lot when we realize there was a mistake but it happens in our job. With respect to a referee from a continent assigned a decisive game with a team from the same continent we do not look at that, we look at the best and if we believe that a referee is right for a match we trust in their ability and honesty." Among the questions arose the issue of goalkeepers coming out of their goal on penalty kicks and Busacca responded that "we are working on that and we seek to follow the course of which we have spoken, there is much talk with the keepers, they are warned and we believe in this World Cup there were no cases of them coming out of goal." The discussion was closed although it could have continued indefinitely as almost all talks about football. The best part is what can be achieved through this type of dialogue between people from different sectors of football that is open, honest, and transparent. And, of course, refereeing plays an important role in this. So it was good that before Massimo Busacca left he reiterated that "we will always apologize for mistakes, we are very sorry when they occur. And we are always open to dialogue, to suggestions and anything that might be good for football".