A media briefing all about refereeing at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ took place on Tuesday 12 June.
Held at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, the briefing featured Chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee Pierluigi Collina and FIFA's Director of Refereeing Massimo Busacca, as well as referees Sandro Ricci and Ravshan Irmatov of Brazil and Uzbekistan respectively.
Each reflected on what it has taken to ensure the referees, assistant referees and video assistant referees (VARs) are ready for Russia 2018, while the referee for the Opening Match was revealed.
VARs are featuring at the World Cup for the first time and will support referees for match-changing situations, providing the assistance they need to increase fairness in the game. Questions were taken on this subject, and many others, from the assembled journalists.
What they said
Chairman of the FIFA Referees' Committee Pierluigi Collina The referees are here because they deserve to be here – they’re the best. But if they make a mistake in an important match, everybody will forget what they did in the past to earn their place here and they will only think about the mistake. We have referees who are not here at the World Cup because they made a major mistake. So for them, having had VAR probably would have been a parachute and they would have been here with us. Like every other human being, referees make mistakes, but we now have the possibility to offer this human being a sort of parachute that saves his life.
Director of FIFA Refereeing Massimo Busacca We have been working hard for four years, like every national team who wants to succeed at this World Cup. We are here to give our best, to show that we are looking for uniformity and consistency. We are looking to have fair play, we are looking to have good relationships with teams and players. The World Cup is an incredible moment to show to everybody that we want to enjoy football. We have to respect the image of football.
Referee Sandro Ricci of Brazil I can assure you that we are ready. We are looking forward to starting because we love training but we love officiating more. Same as the players – they like to train, they need to train, but they like to play. We have 64 matches and we have been preparing a lot. Our goal is that VAR will not need to be used – we hope referees can solve all the problems on the field.
Referee Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan We have very good support from our friends in the VAR team. As human beings, we can’t always see everything. VAR could be excellent support to the referee to eliminate bad behaviour. In football, it’s all about having respect for each other.