Monday, February 4, 2019

Top international referee visits Tasmania to inspire local match officials

Photo:  Former EPL referee Mark Clattenburg at an FFT media conference last Friday [PlessPix]
Former English Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg, 43, a familiar face on TV football coverage, was in Tasmania over the weekend to present a lecture at the Tasmanian Referees’ Conference in Launceston on Saturday.

Clattenburg had a busy 2016, refereeing the European Champions League final (Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid in the San Siro in Milan), the final of the UEFA Euro competition (Portugal v France at the Stade de France in Paris), and the FA Cup Final (Manchester United v Crystal Palace at Wembley).

That meant he shared the stage with some of the game’s current greats, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric, to name just a few.

Clattenburg has been to Australia before, having refereed the Socceroos against Brazil at the MCG in 2017, but this is his first visit to Tasmania.

He could still referee in the EPL for another 10 years but decided to retire at the end of the 2016-17 season and devote his time to other pursuits.

He was hired by Saudi Arabia to develop their referees.

“There’s not an industry you can go to when you retire, so it was an opportunity to look to develop and help their referees become better and educate them,” Clattenburg said.

“It was a chance I took up.

“Tony Peart got in contact with me recently and asked me to attend the [Tasmanian] referees’ conference and to give a lecture to the referees and to talk about what made me successful, or some of the attributes that made me successful, especially in 2016 when I refereed all the major finals of the Champions League, the Euros and the FA Cup Final.

“Hopefully, I can pass on one or two tips and that’ll inspire some of the referees here in Tasmania to become top referees and hopefully get some of them to the A-League.”

Photo:  Tony Peart (left) and Mark Clattenburg at KGV Park [PlessPix]

Peart, the Football Federation Tasmania referee manager, is currently an assistant referee in the A-League.

Tasmania has had one FIFA referee in the past and that was Jack Johnston in the 1980s.

Clattenburg said fitness was one area he always concentrated on as a referee because a referee cannot reach the top if he or she is not fit.

“Modern-day football is now so fast and referees have to find an area in which to improve on and that was one of the areas I always wanted to improve in,” he said.

“In the 13 years I was refereeing at the professional level, football has changed a lot.

“You have the laws of the game, but you’ve got to understand football now and one of the biggest things for referees is interpretation of the laws and how to manage football matches.”

Clattenburg things there are problems all over the world with the new VAR (Video Assistant Referee) system that has been introduced in many countries and many competitions.

“We have it in Saudi Arabia and VAR is a huge step forward in football.

“I think everyone wanted it, but how it’s been implemented still leaves questions.

“The problem you have in football is that a lot of the decisions are opinionated.  Is it a penalty or not?  I could show you ten clips and argue over the ten clips, therefore you’ll still have arguments between the VAR and the referee.

“When it’s a matter of fact such as off-side, ball over the line, the VAR is special because it proves beyond doubt that the decision is correct.  VAR going forward is the future.

“When I’m refereeing with VAR in Saudi Arabia, it makes my life easier and I feel more confident.  But, I want to check.  As a referee, I still want to see the decision and I don’t really want to rely on the video referee because sometimes the video referee might think it’s not a clear and obvious error, so I think if the referee gets a second chance to look at it, at least he can put his mind at rest that he’s got the right decision.”

Photo:  Mark Clattenburg at Friday's media conference [PlessPix]

Clattenburg said there was a protocol governing the use of the VAR, but some countries implement VAR in different ways.

“What is a clear and obvious error to one person may not be so to another person,” Clattenburg said.

“It’s all about trying to get the right decision.

“Refereeing isn’t just about refereeing.  You need to understand about football and coaches, and get everyone involved, coaches and players, so that everybody is on the right guidelines about what VAR is all about.

“The best referees in the world shouldn’t need it, but it’s there as a support mechanism.

“If we want to stop the absolute refereeing disaster [of a bad decision], then VAR is the way forward.

“But, we’ve got to be careful that it doesn’t ruin this wonderful game of football by continually stopping the action.”

Clattenburg said the use of VAR in some competitions and not in others caused problems in England because an assistant referee might be involved in a competition that uses VAR one weekend and then in a competition that doesn’t use it the next weekend.

“It must be difficult for the referees and assistants to swap between the two systems,” he said.

“If we want to stop the scandalous decisions, or the absolute refereeing disasters, VAR is the way forward.

“But, we’ve got to be careful that it doesn’t ruin this wonderful game of football because we don’t want it to become stop-start because that affects the flow of the game.”

Photo:  Brent Costelloe of WIN TV interviewing Mark Clattenburg last Friday for his radio programme [PlessPix]


Smudger said...

Great interview Walter

Darren Anderton said...

Very good referee, however when Saudi Arabia come calling it has nothing to do with anything other than the massive pay cheque, just ask Don Revie if he were still alive.