Seitz: We're looking for elite athletes now
33 female referees are preparing for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 in the Doha sunshine
Fitness and practical training exercises among the key elements of the seminar
The slogan is 'Reach higher in 2018'
"Find the best position to make the best decision."
Those are the words with which Kari Seitz, FIFA's Senior Manager of Refereeing, summed up one of the most important elements of the FIFA Women's Referees Seminar that is currently taking place in Doha. For the 33 participants, preparations are already underway for the biggest tournament in the women's game: the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™.
"The 2019 Women's World Cup is only a year and few months away," the former elite referee told FIFA.com. "It's a three-year project to prepare the referees for this competition. This seminar is one of the more important ones because in 2018 we have lots of competitions: the Algarve Cup and the U-20 and U-17 Women's World Cups, where we can see these referees. We need to bring them together to ensure that we have uniformity and consistency across all the referees that may go to France in 2019."
Seminars such as this typically take place once a year, with another held during the tournament itself. "In this particular seminar we spend more time focusing on improving and developing general football understanding," Seitz explained. "We also have much more discussions and analysis of situations so that we can improve their analytical skills as officials. When we get closer to the tournament it will be more focused on expectations. Now we want to have more of an opportunity for discussion and guidance."
Topics in Doha:
Achievements and expectations
Improving football understanding
Positioning (set pieces/penalty area), challenges and tactical fouls
Positioning (anticipation/counterattacks), handball, match management
Flexibility and injury prevention testing
Alongside the practical training sessions, decision-making processes and positioning, fitness is also a key focus of the course in Doha. "It is really intensive fitness testing," said Seitz, who is the only referee – male or female – to have officiated at four Women's World Cup editions.
"We're looking for elite athletes now," she continued. "It's no longer good enough just to be active, you have to be an elite athlete. We also encourage the referees to reach higher, to do more than they have ever done and to work to be that elite athlete. The slogan is 'Reach higher in 2018'."
Now it is up to the candidates to convince the members of the FIFA Referees' Commission of their abilities.