- Two-week women’s referees camp in Doha comes to an end
- 27 referees and 48 assistant referees preparing for the FIFA Women’s World Cup
- Use of the Video Assistant Referee system also part of the training
Four months – barely even that – until the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ gets under way. And while the 24 teams who have qualified are eagerly anticipating the tournament, the referees also have plenty to look forward to.
"We know that the teams are preparing very intensively, and we referees are no different. We’re going to do everything in our power to put in the best performance we can in France," said German match official Bibiana Steinhaus.
Together with 26 fellow referees and 48 assistant referees, Steinhaus has spent the past two weeks in Doha on a FIFA World Cup training camp, which put the participants through their paces as they went through a whole host of theoretical and practical activities from early in the morning until late every evening.
"We know that the World Cup is not far off and we can sense the anticipation that comes with it," said Lucila Venegas, a referee from Mexico. "We have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders, but I’m really looking forward to it. It will soon be time to deliver and to realise our dreams. The time has come to take everything we've learned out onto the field."
Since the final whistle blew at the end of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada back in 2015, all attention among referees and officials has been on the next big event, in France. "The men’s and women’s referees are currently focusing on having one common philosophy and maintaining consistency," said Massimo Busacca, Head of the FIFA Refereeing Department.
"The women’s referees are in good form. Our priority is now fine-tuning," added Kari Seitz, FIFA’s Senior Manager of Refereeing.
The camp in Doha was a milestone in this respect, with the referees and assistant referees displaying total commitment and a thirst for knowledge in the training sessions, which also included work alongside male video assistant referees (VARs).
"VAR training is important to be able to gauge whether the use of VAR at the Women’s World Cup would be worthwhile, and to make a recommendation on its usage to the FIFA Council when they meet in Miami in March," explained Pierluigi Collina, Chairman of FIFA’s Refereeing Committee.
"This is fully synchronised with the process that we have followed in the men’s game. We also had a number of seminars and the final decision on it came at a March meeting of the FIFA Council."
In Doha, the referees not only had the chance to go into more detail on the use of VAR in training sessions, but also test the technology in actual match conditions.
As well as the training sessions, they got to referee the Al Kass International Cup which brings together some of the top U-17 teams in the world and which is currently being held in Doha up until 15 February.
"It is great to see how quickly the women’s referees got to grips with the new tool. Working with them went really well," said a highly enthusiastic Tiago Lopes Martins, a video assistant referee from Portugal.
One look at the faces of the referees and assistants confirms this impression. Throughout the camp, they were all ready to work together and work hard. "We talked about how we make our decisions and exchanged experiences," said Yoshimi Yamashita, a referee from Japan. "That’s why seminars like this are so important for me – they help me to constantly improve."
The countdown that everyone has been working towards for over three years is nearing its conclusion. Just four months remain now until kick-off at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.