From 25 February to 6 March, all 90 match officials selected for officiating at FIFA's flagship event in June in South Africa, were carefully examined by a standardised assessment.
The referee plays a key role in football matches. His vigilance, concentration and authority on the pitch ensure the respect of the players and adherence – or enforcement of the Laws of the Game. In order to fulfil his duty, the referee has to be mentally and physically fit, as much as the players he is to supervise. An elite referee covers the same distance and has to meet similar physical demands as a midfielder.
In 2006, FIFA introduced a standardised and football-specific pre-competition medical assessment (PCMA) for the players at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™. The PCMA had been developed by F-MARC. Since this year, the PCMA is also mandatory for the referees. The objective of the PCMA, just as for players, is to detect risk factors with a focus on underlying heart disease predisposing for sudden cardiac death.
To ensure consistent quality and to set a signal on behalf of FIFA stressing the importance of caring for the match officials, all 90 referees including the assistant referees, were summoned to Zurich to be examined at the Schulthess Clinic, which was the first FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence to be inaugurated back in 2005.
The assessment consisted of history taking and general physical examination, blood investigations, orthopaedic examination, 12-lead-resting ECG, echocardiography and an exercise test.
Prof. Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Alfred Mueller, MD, Dr Astrid Junge, PhD, Head of Research F-MARC, and Mario Bizzini, F-MARC, chief physiotherapist for the referees implement F-MARC's philosophy of prevention and education at the Centre.