Nestor Pitana to referee FIFA World Cup Final
Only the second man to take charge of both Opening Match and Final
"I could compare being selected to when I was told that I was going to be a father"
For the second time in the history of the FIFA World Cup™, the same man will have the responsibility – and honour – of refereeing both the Opening Game and the Final. The referee in question is none other than Argentinian Nestor Pitana who, accompanied by Hernan Maidana and Juan Pablo Belatti, will match the feat achieved by his compatriot Horacio Elizondo at Germany 2006.
Just hours after the announcement was made, the 43-year-old and his two assistants spoke exclusively with FIFA.com. They discussed the emotions that they were going through, the challenge awaiting them in Moscow and the preparations required to take on such an important assignment.
FIFA.com: Nestor, congratulations on your appointment. How would you describe this moment? Nestor Pitana: Very rarely have I experienced anything comparable in my life. That feeling, that excitement. Maybe I could compare it with the moment when I was told that I was going to be a father. In terms of the sacrifice, the responsibility that it involves. For any kid who loves football, the dream is to get to the World Cup Final. This team have worked so hard to get where we are, we’ve managed one of the greatest achievements in the world of refereeing. And now we want to finish the job, in the best way possible.
What is the key to receiving such an honour? Juan Pablo Belatti: Work and more work. We’ve invested a lot of our time in something we’re passionate about. Hours spent away from our friends and family. We put a lot of energy into it. What we felt when they announced our names, that mixture of emotions coursing through our bodies, only someone who experiences the daily routine of this profession can explain it. We’re very happy and very committed.
The match will feature two great teams in the shape of France and Croatia. What is your opinion of them? Hernan Maidana: They’re both big teams who have got where they are through hard work, through careful planning. They’ve earned it, they deserve it. And it’s a similar story for us. We’ve worked very hard to get where we are. Just as they’ve got their challenge, we’ve got ours. This team that we’ve built has a great opportunity. And doing a good job won’t be enough; we’ve got to do an excellent job.
Is there a special secret to planning for a World Cup Final? Pitana: I don’t think so. We won’t change what we’ve been doing up until now. We’ll be very focused as always, that’s what has got us here.
Belatti: I wouldn’t say that we have superstitions, but we do have our own certain rituals and habits. We’ll stick to them because that’s how we are. Along the way we’ve always had our mate, our music and jokes to help us to let off steam. But also the odd hug, a word of encouragement, a quick glance that reminds us that we’re here for one another. That’s how we work and we’re not going to change it. We’re going to give everything we’ve been giving up until now and more, that little bit extra. But in terms of our preparations, we’ll carry on in the same vein.
We know that you really like music, as you mentioned recently. So right at this moment, what rhythm are your hearts beating to? Pitana: I like all music, I can go from reggaeton all the way to something more classical. But at times like this, it’s a total mixture of rhythms. The happiness is so great that I can’t describe it. I’d say that the mixture is so big that we’d give rise to a new style that has never been heard before (laughs).