- FIFA Forward in Switzerland
- Support for referee training
- "Positive impression of our progress"
"A door has been opened to us," said a delighted Kari Seitz, FIFA’s Senior Manager of Refereeing, around three years ago when Switzerland’s Esther Staubli became the first woman for 16 years to officiate a FIFA men’s match.
The game between Japan and New Caledonia at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017™ ended in a 1-1 draw, and afterwards New Caledonia coach Dominique Wacalie was full of praise for the officiating: "[Staubli] went about her business very well. You’ll hear no criticism from us. I think that it’s a very good thing for football in general. She helped the teams to play well. All the players had respect for her. It was no different than if a man had been refereeing. I hope that this isn’t the last time that we see this kind of thing."
Three years have passed since then, and Staubli’s milestone has not been forgotten – in particular in her native Switzerland, as Sascha Amhof, head of the refereeing department at the Swiss Football Association (SFV), confirmed to FIFA.com.
"It’s not just on an international level that women’s football is booming, but also in Switzerland. The Swiss women’s team has also been very successful. That more and more women and girls are getting into football is great to see. We also want to use the fact that our poster girl Esther Staubli is one of the best female referees in the world to get more women interested in refereeing in the future and realise what a great career you can have as an official."
With the support of the FIFA Forward Programme, the SFV implemented a 12-month project in summer 2019 focusing on referee training. There are around 4,800 qualified and licensed referees and assistant referees in the association, and to maintain high standards across all levels of the game, each referee has to attend a refresher and/or a further training course at least twice a year. This is the SFV’s way of ensuring that referees and assistant referees keep abreast of the latest implementations of the laws of the game.
- Make high-quality training available in regional courses
- Enable personal exchanges (via networking) which will lead to a standardisation across the 13 regions involved via regular meetings, despite the training being organised in different ways
- Current interpretations of the laws can be communicated at the regular refresher and further training courses
- Updating and development of electronic tools to enable personal study
"The FIFA project is a particular help for us to achieve our aims when it comes to the education and further training to our referees on a regional level,” Amhof added. “With the help of the project and the support of FIFA, we have managed to anchor the long-term education and further training of Swiss referees via the measures that we have taken, and made sure that our investments are sustainable and that the way forward in the coming years will continue to function.
We see constant education and further training of referees as an absolute core priority if we are to continue to have officials with comprehensive skill-sets available to us at every level of competition. It remains a challenge for us, particularly at the level, to ensure that the laws are implemented in a consistent way throughout the entire country."
Since February, the national training team has also been able to count on the part-time appointment of Esther Staubli and David Scharli (FIFA futsal referee). Those two officials have helped to implement the newly-established training concept, while Amhof’s team has also introduced a sub-project on recruiting and keeping referees, aimed at ensuring that current officials feel valued.
"A number of studies have shown that to keep referees, the themes of ‘respect’ and feeling valued’ are particularly important,” he explained. “In concrete terms, we as a national organisation have begun to increase the individual contact that we have with regional referees. For example, we reach out to each new ref after a year and send them an official letter of thanks and also a small gift (a yellow or red card).
"Overall we have come away with a positive impression of our progress and we are proud of the fact that, as part of the FIFA project, we have been able to make an important step towards further establishing and maintaining the levels of our training structures."