Developing a feeling for the game
FIFA World Cup 2002™ final
"It was a minor incident in the World Championship final 2002 but it allows me to explain a way of interpreting a match that is crucial for a referee. It’s right in the middle of a final and I notice that a Brazilian player’s shirt is ripped, so I ask him to change it. He receives a new one, takes off the torn one and then starts a strange dance as his arms flail in his attempts to put it on. He ties himself in knots while battling with the shirt. He gets the shirt on, but it’s back to front. Finally he gets it the right way round."
"Although it was a minor incident, it also illustrates a slightly more serious issue. If I’d applied the rules to the letter, Edmilson would have to leave the pitch, only to be allowed back on once he was dressed properly. Asking him to leave would have meant a failure on my part in interpreting the attitude of that game; it would have been a betrayal of the spirit of fair play that both teams were displaying on the pitch. It was far better to waste some time – even though I hadn’t reckoned on a change of shirt being transformed into a contortionist exhibition – than jeopardize the good atmosphere with a strict application of the rules."
Understanding the duties of a referee
Serie A, AS Roma v AC Milan (1993-94)
In the 1993-94 season in Italy’s Serie A, AS Roma v AC Milan, there was an incident involving Franco Baresi.
"Three minutes after the kick-off, with Milan playing the offside trap high up on the pitch, a through-ball was passed to a Roma player who played it towards the Milan goal, with no opponents near him and therefore a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Baresi held him back by the shirt, not dramatically, but enough to impede his progress. The outcome to me was inevitable: a red card for Baresi in the third minute of the first half."
"If the truth be told, over the following days I began to wonder if perhaps I had done him an injustice, sending him off the pitch practically without even having touched the ball. But a referee cannot and must not take into account the colours of the shirts and the names written on them. The referee has to be colour-blind and lacking in memory – he can't afford to recognize the players – and a great champion has to have the same status on the pitch as the latest newcomer."