FIFA referee instructor Massimo Raveino is determined to create a more organised, professional approach to refereeing in OFC.
Raveino has recently returned from a busy workload at the OFC Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Fiji where he was in charge of the team of eight referees and 10 Assistant referees who officiated the Olympic qualifiers but noted that his duties didn’t end there.
“I was a referee assessor during the game, a referee instructor for the referees course and also a fitness trainer.”
Raveino said the tournament in Fiji was significant for the referees because it was the first time that OFC has applied the same organisation principles for officials as in FIFA tournaments.
“In Samoa during the South Pacific Games we found that when all match officials arrived they had difficulties with consistency in their decision making,” said Raveino.
“So in Fiji for the first time we created a professional environment for all match officials.”
Rest days started with physical recovery and technical sessions, and were followed by extensive debriefs of the performances of the previous day’s matches. Later in the day, there were further sessions in the classroom to reinforce coaching points and seek improvement for the following day’s matches.
All of this was supported by a daily discipline of a daily dress code and an expectation of punctuality and concentration.
“We have to change the mindset from this year on and be more professional, so we need discipline to improve performances during the tournament.”
One of the challenges that Raveino said referee’s in OFC faced was the long span of time some went without matches and said that in some cases referees had not worked since the South Pacific Games in September, which was five months ago.
Raveino also targeted the lack of referee instructors as being a problem in OFC. He said that the development of a referee instructor’s course and a referee assessor’s course would help solve the problem.
“If we do not handle the referee instructor and referee assessor problems in the Member Association’s, then we cannot follow the referees. Who will be able to inspect the referees? No body!”
Raveino is trying to change the mentality of island referees in OFC who see an appointment to a tournament as a holiday.
“In some cases the referees allowances from FIFA could be equal to one year’s salary in their home country so when they receive appointments from the OFC referees committee they enjoy it.”
One of the targeted challenges over the next ten years is to change the mentality.
“Refereeing in Oceania is not to travel and to collect the daily allowances, it is to serve Oceania and serve our Member Association’s (MA’s).
“In the next ten years we have a big challenge because we need to add male and female soccer referees, Futsal referees, and Beach soccer referees. We need lots of help but we need the right help.”
Raveino stressed the importance of referees understanding different teams and countries systems of play. He said that one of the difficulties that match officials have is reading the game.
“As there is an evolution of the tactical system of play of all the teams around the world, match officials have to learn to adapt their management of the game by reading the game better.”
OFC has organised a Referee Development Officer (RDO) seminar in Auckland to run from 28 March to April 1.
Raveino has requested the co-operation of the RDO’s to prepare, analyze and evaluate the current situations in each of the Member Association’s and to work together with both the OFC referee committee and all the MA’s referee committees.
“The first target is to develop refereeing and the second target is to follow up with match officials, especially those who participate in FIFA, OFC and National League tournaments, because these are our elite.
Raveino was happy with the general performance of the referees in Fiji.
“We had one new referee and two new assistant referees and their performance’s were correct. Two referees struggled with their performances and will no longer hold a place within OFC’s elite referees.”
“The next tournament we are preparing for is the Under 20 Men’s tournament in Tahiti in August. During this tournament we will nominate the new FIFA Referees and AR’s and will organise a referees course for the new induction of the match officials.