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Question Number: 24420

Law 5 - The Referee 12/14/2010

RE: Competative Adult

Al Sinopoli of Covington, LA USA asks...

Many states have referee academies that are meant to offer training and advancement opportunities to referees. While there is no rule against it, the ones I have seen seem to target younger referees (under 25 or 30) moreso than those over 30. Many assessors and instructors who I know that take part in this see there academies work on mechnaics and style so as to promote referees on their way to hopefully going national someday.

That said, as one of the over-30 crowd, I got into a discussion on refereeing style with one of the academy minds and maintain that the style an older referee can use (and may be best suited to use) to manage a game is usually different than what a younger academy referee uses, especially when it comes to adult and upper teen ages, where a younger referee is more of a peer. Much of this I feel is from appearance and the perception players get from such appearance (a guy with grey temples versus someone without). Other style differences would be the same thing for that of a tall skinny referees that run very fast versus a larger frame referee that moves a bit slower but may have stronger field presence. Both may pass the same fitness test and meet the same grade requirements, but are very different in what methods they use to optimize their refereeing effectiveness.

So I maintained that all else equal (no strong past history with the teams) I would say that an older referee is generally more likely to keep 2 rival teams honest, provided he can keep up with play, moreso than a younger referee who players may seek more to test. Thus, if you were to formally assess both referees on that kind of game, the likelihood for a non-competative finding for an older referee would be higher than for the younger referee, simply due to the selection of the referee based on the perceptions the players have based on his/her field presence in terms of age/build.

Is this in your experience what you have observed?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Al
The future of any body is its ability to attract and develop young people. Many take up refereeing after ending their playing career and perhaps as a result by the time they have gained the relevant experience find that the opportunity to progress to the upper levels has passed them by due to age, fitness etc. In Ireland 43% of our referees are over 50 years of age which is something that is urgently being addressed.
FIFA has a mandatory retirement age of 45 for all international referees and FIFA is keen to progress young referees under the age of 30 through to its senior ranks. It can only do that if associations are providing good candidates through their Centres of Excellence and Acadamies.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

An interesting observation. I am not an assessor, but my experience is that assessors can tell the difference between a competitive match that is hotly contested and a poorly managed match where there are hot tempers.

I think we kid ourselves when we say that experience can substitute for fitness in some referee equivalent to the old Weight Watcher's exchange (bread for snack). Anticipation can reduce the need for speed since knowing the right place to see the foul enables one to see the foul. But, the referee still has to run to the right place.

We need to develop referees who are fit because the game has changed. The game is faster and more physical. We still need the older pros who have the life experience and wisdom to make the right call and to demonstrate wisdom to those who have more enthusiasm than experience. It pains me when promising young referees are thrown into matches for which they are not ready. Everyone suffers, including the referee.

Refereeing requires great fitness and great judgment. I cannot fault the notion, however, that it is easier to mentor a fit referee to make better judgments than to provide fitness training to bring an older referee to the performance needs of the game. I remember years ago asking our association's Director of Instruction why fitness training was not part of the training program. 'Who would come?' was his answer. Who would come?

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