It was a special referee instruction session last night. The Dutch FA sent one of its rising stars to teach us how to manage a game. I recognized his face when I entered the room and we started chatting as refs always do. Did you see this, what do you think of that?
Before I knew it, I raised a hot topic in the football press this week. A heavy tackle on a PSV player (where a straight red card would be obvious) was given advantage instead. Our rising star took a deep breath – he had been the acting referee that game! Oops. But he immediately admitted when he watched the replay afterwards, he realised he should have stopped the game and sent the fouling opponent off. He feared a low marking due to this one bad call.
The rest of the evening we watched and discussed videos, evaluated good ref decisions and what could have been done better and why. We learned to decide firmly from kick-off, without being in the centre of attention all the time. When needed to stop a game to try and stop further escalation. Take time to decide and pick your battles. How to use small talk as player correction, but when needed be clear and speak out loud so everyone can hear (and see!) your disapproval of someone’s behavior.
Our hero was applauded for his great seminar performance and we left for home with new insights. We will surely watch him tonight in the Dutch FA Cup semi-final with other eyes.