The Algarve region of Portugal hosted a FIFA refereeing seminar last week in preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.  Just as the players are progressing on their journey to the sport’s showpiece event, 41 FIFA Elite Women’s referees from 35 different countries took the next important step in their preparation.

The seminar, which was held ahead of the Algarve Cup, looked to share knowledge as the Elite Women’s referees prepared themselves mentally and physically for the chance to officiate at the highest level. “We have two-and-a-half years to get ready for the Women’s World Cup,” said Kari Seitz, senior manager of the FIFA Referees' department. “Like the players, referees have to work to be at our best.”

The seminar covered physical fitness tests, theoretical segments and practical sessions with local players, and the intensity and variety of the sessions provided strong examples of the increasing demands of refereeing elite-level football.

“It’s crucial to have a deep knowledge of the game,” said Seitz, a former referee appeared in four editions of the Women’s World Cup from 1999 to 2011. “But complementing the mentality is the physicality. We conducted several physical tests and collected data so we can track improvements year over year. The FIFA fitness test measures speed, agility and endurance, and we also tested strength and flexibility.  Everything is focused on improvement toward France.”

Focus on France 2019
FIFA Head of Refereeing Massimo Busacca also attended the seminar and praised the referees for their work. He gave his full support and recognised the role they play in upholding the laws of the game, protecting its integrity and most importantly ensuring safety of the players.

“We are definitely on the right track. We really worked hard in this seminar. The refereeing in Canada was very good, but we need to be prepared to meet and exceed the demands of the game in France,” said Seitz. “We are convinced that with this kind of preparation, we will reduce mistakes and see good performances during the FIFA Women’s World Cup and in all other women’s competitions.”

Some of the participants at the FIFA Elite Women’s Referees seminar will immediately be able to implement what they have learned during the week, with some selected to officiate games during the Algarve Cup, which will be played from 1 to 8 March.

“These seminars give the match officials the opportunity to improve and to learn from others’ experiences at tournaments and bring uniformity across all the continents,” concluded Seitz.