On Saturday, Mexican referee Roberto Garcia will officiate the eagerly-awaited FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 final between France and Uruguay in Istanbul. The 38-year-old will be assisted by his compatriots Jose Luis Camargo and Alberto Morin, with the Ivorian Noumandiez Doue serving as fourth official.
After taking charge of the match for third place, among others, at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2011 in his homeland, Garcia’s nomination to referee this final represents the next step in his career. FIFA.com caught up with the official for his thoughts ahead of the title-decider.
FIFA.com: What does it mean to you to have been nominated as referee for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 final?
Roberto Garcia: When I heard about it I was just incredibly proud and happy. I was delighted for my family and my two assistants too. Without doubt it’s the highlight of my refereeing career so far and a huge step forward for me in terms of my future. However, I've never forgotten how much hard work has gone in to me getting this far.
How did your family react?
Thankfully they’ve been very supportive of me and have encouraged me every step of the way. I called them as soon as I found out and obviously they were all over the moon. They went absolutely crazy!
What kind of match are you anticipating between France and Uruguay?
I expect it to be a very demanding game. Both teams have exceptionally talented and, above all, experienced players in their ranks. I think it'll be a fast-paced, hard-running encounter.
How will you prepare yourself both mentally and tactically for the final?
It's important not to get too wound up and to stay fully focused. You need to try and maintain the same level of healthy tension you've had at the tournament in previous weeks. My assistants and I are a very experienced team and we're really looking forward to the final and welcome the accompanying responsibility that brings. The tactical preparations are important too. The instructors in FIFA's Refereeing Department will prepare us perfectly with, amongst other things, numerous video clips of the games so far, which we'll analyse together. We’ll also simulate and practice certain match situations during our daily practical training with players. To enhance our preparations we have access to the DVDs of all of the games played here to date and on top of that we'll have a tactical match discussion with FIFA's Technical Study Group (TSG).
It's invaluable to me. It helps in taking care of all the administrative, technical and medical side of things surrounding each game. It wouldn't be possible for everything to run smoothly without that sense of togetherness and a good collective morale. It's extremely important to all of us. That's why we have a special ritual: immediately before each game we embrace, forming a tight circle, and we encourage each other.
How did you start out as a referee?
Ever since I was a small boy I've always been incredibly passionate about football. I made it into the second division in Mexico as a player and when I was 23 a good friend of mine persuaded me to do the basic refereeing courses. I'm happy to admit I enjoyed it immensely right from the off.
Vanishing spray has been used for the first time at a FIFA tournament here in Turkey. What are your first impressions of it?
I expect it to be a very demanding game. Both teams have exceptionally talented and, above all, experienced players in their ranks.
How did referees prepare to use vanishing spray prior to the tournament?
In May all 52 refereeing candidates went to a seminar on the topic in Rio de Janeiro, where we were given excellent and very interesting training about it. In the first few weeks here in Turkey we also had some practical training sessions with vanishing spray so that we could get used to implementing it during games.
After the tournament finishes, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ is just around the corner...
That’s true. I would love to be at the World Cup in Brazil next year. In Massimo Bussaca we have a fantastic instructor who’s preparing us for that and who conveys the philosophy we represent as referees in a wonderful way. But to be honest, at the moment all I’m thinking about is the U-20 final in Istanbul. That’s the most important thing right now.