Refereeing
A taste of the future

Michel Vautrot (France)
Member of the FIFA Referees' Committee


As the second most important football tournament after the World Cup, the Olympic Games is a real trial by fire for players and referees of the future.

As far as the "keepers of the law" were concerned, the ad hoc committee made its selection within the limits of the set quota - unsuitable in view of the number of matches and the decentralisation of the tournament - imposed by the organisers of the Olympic Games (16 referees and the same number of assistants).

The Olympic Games in Atlanta saw a number of innovations, the first of which truly makes history:

Referees were encouraged to keep things firmly under control
Referees were encouraged to keep things firmly under control from the very beginning. In total during the 48 games they showed the yellow card 180 times, the yellow/red combination 11 times, and the red card 7 times.
1. There were 8 young female officials for the women's competition, but what was unique was that three of them were assigned the role of referee's assistant for men's matches (who would have thought that possible a short time ago?). They were:
  • Maria Rodriguez (Mexico) for Spain vs France
  • Gitte Holm (Denmark) for USA vs Tunisia
  • Nelly Viennot (France) for Japan vs Nigeria
FormatDocument
In addition Ingrid Jonsson (Sweden) was nominated as the fourth official for the match Argentina vs Tunisia.

The motivation, concentration and the quality of the sporting performances of these ladies made possible the transformation of a courageous and voluntary initiative on the part of FIFA into action. The deeds proved to be in harmony with the ideas, which was not an evident outcome in a "macho" world not specially convinced of the need to break a hundred year old taboo.


Five games in the women's tournament were officiated by a quartet of women referees.
The brilliant performance of the female quartet Bente SKOGVANg (Norway) - Maria RODRIGUEZ (Mexico) - Nelly VIENNOT (France) - Sonia DENONCOURT (Canada) during the superb USA vs China final will establish a permanent place for women referees, not just for demographic reasons but because of their aptitude for the task.

2. A preparatory course (in Miami) given for the first time for many years by all the members of the Technical Committee.

3. The use of electronic flags, not for the purpose of eliminating human error but for rapidly and efficiently attracting the attention of the central referee. This proved to be a positive experiment which certainly improved collaboration between the three officials, even if more practice is needed because of the novelty of the idea.

There's no point in arguing.
There's no point in arguing with the referee. This was a fact that the players simply did not always want to accept, even at Atlanta '96.
4. The ability, within the rules, of allowing an advantage to develop, yet with the possibility of a return to the point where the foul was committed (it seemed that, considering both tournaments, this novel idea has not yet completely been absorbed by referees conditioned by force of habit in this respect. There were some cautious attempts, but the action is not yet spontaneous.)

5. And on a symbolic note, let us mention the passing of the term "linesman" in favour of "referee's assistant", the underlying aim of this officially approved change being to give the person out on the touchline more authority and more responsibility.

In-depth work

The number of matches, the cultural differences, the importance of the competition and the high stakes involved did not allow perfect uniformity in the standard of refereeing (always a hope, but always utopian), despite the "Sword of Damocles" which is always hanging above the officials' heads in the form of a bad report.


FIFA intends to redefine the role of the fourth referee.
In the course of 48 matches (this time 32 men's and 16 women's) there will always be imperfections or differences of opinion concerning application of the laws or the perception of them.

Overall, the standard of refereeing during the Games can be rated as good (though it's hard to please those whose opinions because of vested interests diverge from the analysis of technical specialists), but there were some blunders, regrettable but inevitable, such as:
  • the same player shown the red card twice without being sent off the pitch immediately.
  • a player not being sent off although he clearly should have been after he'd committed a serious foul in the position of last defender.

This showed an inability to take responsibility, which was all the more inexplicable since the officials concerned were otherwise rated as excellent.


How severe is that injury? No easy judgement for a referee to make.
Another encouraging observation was the in-depth work carried out by all the confederations. There are now fewer and fewer "minor" nations in terms of refereeing, and some of their representatives, in the centre or on the touchline, make it possible to look positively to the future in this respect.

There remains the endless discussion about penalty or offside situations as viewed from a position on the pitch or in the stand compared to through the lens of a TV camera. In this respect the men's final Argentina vs Nigeria could be used as a perfect case study for any refereeing course, and as a calming reference when discussions are getting heated.

Finally, the men and women traditionally in black now wear coloured uniforms thanks to adidas, and they brandished their little red or yellow cards 198 times (average 4.13 times per match, seen over both tournaments), with the Ghana/Italy game earning the sad distinction of topping the list (11 yellow and 1 red).

Pierluigi Collina (Italy)
Pierluigi Collina (Italy), the referee during the final between Argentina and Nigeria.
Men's tournament
1st Round (24 matches)
106 cautions, 7 expulsions (2nd yellow card in same match) and 3 direct expulsions.
2nd Round (8 matches)
42 cautions, 3 expulsions (2nd yellow card in same match) and 1 direct expulsion.

Women's tournament

1st Round (12 matches)
24 cautions, and 1 direct expulsion.
2nd Round (4 matches)
8 cautions, 1 expulsion (2nd yellow card in same match) and 2 direct expulsions.

In summary, great satisfaction can be taken from having entrusted the highly responsible task of judging these sporting competitions to men and women of quality, who were receptive and thorough in their duties and above reproach in terms of human behaviour. And mention should be made of the team spirit of members of the committee, the competence and devotion to duty of FIFA staff and local helpers for the match officials, who contributed to the perfect harmony and success of the group in charge of making the sporting decisions.

REFEREES AND ASSISTANT REFEREES
Referees
COLLINA
Pierluigi
DALLAS
Hugh
Italy
13.02.1960
Financial Advisor
Scotland
26.10.1957
Company Director

GARCIA-ARANDA E.
Josť
JONSSON
Ingrid
Spain
03.03.1956
Physical Education Teacher
Sweden
13.09.1959
Head Master

SKOGVANG
Bente
UN-PRASERT
Pirom
Norway
17.08.62
Research Assistant
Thailand
16.11.1953
Civil Servant

AL-MUHANNA
Omar Saleh Saad
RUSCIO
Roberto Ruben
Saudi Arabia
10.01.1959
Civil Servant
Argentina
18.09.1953
Bank Clerk

PEREIRA DA SILVA
Antonio
VASCONCELOS GUEDES
Claudia
Brazil
25.05.1957
Teacher
Brazil
20.03.1963
Physical Education Teacher

EL-GHANDOUR
Gamal Mahmoud
BOUCHARDEAU
Lucian
Egypt
12.06.1957
Accountant
Niger
18.12.1961
Administrator

ARCHUNDIA TELLEZ
Benito
BAHARMAST
Esfandiar
Mexico
21.03.1966
Businessman
USA
11.03.1954
Engineer Analyst

DENONCOURT
Sonia
LENNIE
Edward
Canada
25.06.1964
Shop Owner
Australia
05.10.1959
National Sales Manager

Assistant Referees
NEUENSTEIN
Heiner
DUPANOV
Yuri
Germany
25.04.1958
Business Management Graduate
Belarus
07.06.1962
Businessman

UGURDUR
Akif
HOLM
Gitte
Turkey
07.10.1962
Civil Servant
Denmark
26.07.1965
Laboratory Assistant

VIENNOT
Nelly
JEON
Young Hyun
France
08.01.1962
Korea Republic
26.02.1956
Lecturer

AL MOSSAWI
Mohamed Ahmed
ARANGO CARDONA
Jorge Luis
Oman
01.01.1959
Civil Servant
Colombia
12.04.1958
Physical Education Teacher

VELAZQUEZ PINTOS
Carlos Adan
DANTE
Dramane
Uruguay
17.04.1953
Teacher
Mali
09.12.1961
Printer

OSMAN M. HAMID
Amir
KELLY
Peter
Sudan
01.01.1955
Civil Servant
Trinidad and Tobago
10.02.1962
Teacher

TORRES ZUNIGA
Luis Fernando
RODRIGUEZ ROMAN
Maria Del Socorro
Costa Rica
31.08.1958
Teacher
Mexico
24.11.1965
Sports Manager

GETTEMEYER
Janice
FRED
Lencie
USA
27.08.62
Teacher
Vanuatu
21.03.68
Builder