The road to the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™ is proceeding with great strides for the teams aiming to qualify, but also for the match officials. FIFA in cooperation with the confederations recently developed a revised list of 35 referee and 69 assistant referee candidates – representing all six confederations and 56 countries – for the biggest tournament in women’s football.
The list of candidates takes into account several qualities, including game performances, football understanding and fitness, and for the first time at this stage of preparations for the Women’s World Cup, FIFA is announcing referee trios. This allows the referees to prepare as a team throughout the build-up to the tournament, and thus helps to improve overall performances.
"This is an incredibly important step forward," Massimo Busacca, FIFA’s Head of Refereeing, explained. "It’s a further marker in the three-year process that started last year. In 2018, we expect to see improvement from candidates in terms of their fitness, technical knowledge and football understanding. We'll be testing them throughout the year and then selecting the best.”
Former elite referee and FIFA’s Senior Manager of Refereeing Kari Seitz underlined the importance of the preparation for the selected match officials. “FIFA takes the development of all FIFA officials, male and female, very seriously. Only a limited number of match officials will be selected to officiate in the FIFA Women’s World Cup and selection will be based 100 per cent on quality.”
Improvement is the goal
In order to offer more opportunities for the development of women’s referees, FIFA created history in October by inviting seven women across all confederations to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India. It also opened the doors for member associations and confederations to continue to appoint women match officials for men’s matches, offering the match officials a valuable learning experience. FIFA hopes to see more opportunities in the future given by the confederations and the member associations. If the referee trios can perform periodically at a high level, the Women’s World Cup will benefit from this support.
Intense preparation before the big competition
2018 will be an important year for the preparations on the road to France 2019. For the refereeing candidates, it begins with an intensive seminar in Qatar, followed by the Algarve Cup and then the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018.
"Their performances are based on their ability to manage a game and make decisions, and to do this, they need to be healthy, stable and mentally well prepared," said Seitz. “We prepare like a football team, like players do, paying special attention to uniformity and consistency, fair play, protecting players and the tactical approach. We will work mainly on the tactical and technical aspects.”
The candidates will take the opportunity during this preparation period to convince the members of the FIFA Referees Committee of their skills before the final assignments are made for France 2019, which will take place from 7 June to 7 July.