UEFA Chief Refereeing Officer Pierluigi Collina and AFC referee Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekistan said that in order to become a top referee on an international level, knowing the rules of the game is no longer sufficient.
Speaking on first day of the 10th annual Dubai Sports Council conference, Italian referee legend Collina (photo) said that a modern referee has to know every single player on the field, along with his capabilities and his most possible movements and actions, especially during standard situations. "There was a time where a very good referee had to know the soccer rules by heart. This is over. Today, only the referee who can estimate as good as possible what might happen during the match has the potential to reach world-class", said 55-year-old Collina, who was been named IFFHS's "Best Referee of the Year" for six consecutive years during his time as a FIFA Referee from 1995 to 2005. Collina was famous for never touring the city he travelled to during his career, but he remained in his hotel room the whole day before the match in order to study the host and guest team and every single player through databases and video analyses.
Irmatov agreed, saying that an in-depth match preparation is no longer a distinction. "Anticipating the characteristics of a football match is very important for success as the way how it is played today is much faster and more dynamic than before." Irmatov, 38, was named "Best Referee in Asia" for five times (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014). A FIFA official since 2003, the Uzbek elite referee was selected to officiate the final match of both the 2008 and 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.
Collina said the questions a referee has to ask himself ahead of the game are "Do you know all payers? Who are the biggest players, their tactics, their characteristics and their records in previous encounters?" Collina completed the referee workshop of the conference by showing a video analysis of a standard free kick situation when Bayern Munich played against FC Barcelona which gave an example how players position themselves in advance near their counterparts to stop them through unfair movements.