June 26, 2011

A closer look: Jacqui Melksham

Although it is not the first match played in WWC 2011 which is going to start today, it is officially confirmed that this match is the opener, the match 1: Germany against Canada. About 73.700 visitors are expected in Berlin's Olympia Stadium, this value is the highest in WWC's history held in Europe ever. Only two matches may top that, these matches took place in New Jersey and LA in WWC 1999 (USA-DEN, 78.972//USA-CHN, 90.185).

In the middle of this breathtaking event is the 32 years-old Australian Jacqui Melksham (l.) along with her experienced assistant referees Allyson Flynn and Sarah Ho who both run the lines in the highest Australian male football league.
When considering the fact that Melksham did not appear in any of last year's tournaments, neither at u17 WWC in Trinidad & Tobago, nor at u20 WWC in Germany, it is slightly odd that she even joins this world cup. Many expected Hong Eun Ah, AFC's female referee of the year 2010, however, Ah was replaced by her countrywoman Cha Sung Mi.
Australia's football association may have a certain influence in FIFA's female referee comitee with regard to last WWC's appointments as well. In 2007, Tammy Ogston - coming from Australia, too - got most of the matches including three matches with German involvement and the final between Brazil and Germany (0-2).
It was clear that the referee for the opener will probably not come from CONCACAF or UEFA zone. Therefore, there were three possible and reasonable candidates to my mind: Silvia Reyes from Peru, Etsuko Fukano from Japan and finally Jacqui Melksham. Latter is in final now, hopefully, she will be savouring this event and will do her job well.

UPDATE: After two perfomances, I have to update my "pre-tournament-impressions" a bit...in Germany vs. Canada, she disappointed us due to inconsistent card policy and partisanship (Canada). Nonetheless, she was given the best and hardest match in women's football later, USA vs. Brazil. And again: a doubtful perfomance with many weaknesses and a poor assistant referee Allyson Flynn, even though the bigger calls were ok.
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