UEFA's Refereeing chief Pierluigi Collina from Italy, himself one of the greatest referees in the recent football history, spoke to Eurosport mentioning the manner of preparing for an international final and emphasized the referee's responsibility as well as his impression that the fans have zero influence on his decisions:
|Pierluigi Collina in his 2002 World Cup final (c) HSV.de|
How does a referee prepare for a Champions League final?
Collina: I would say that it's like every game because every game is important, but for the Champions League final there's much more attention and great care about preparation, which is complex because it's not only about the rules of the game, interpretation and physical condition.
There's a technical aspect too: the referee has to know the teams involved, tactically and individually. He has to know how the game will develop, always being one step ahead.
From this point of view a Champions League final is a bit easier, because the referee could have been involved previously in some matches with the teams involved.
It's not difficult to find the necessary information to read the game and moreover UEFA always provides the right material to complete the view. Finally there's the mental preparation, but this is personal and subjective for every single referee.
Fans from all over the world play a major role in big games. What kind of influence do the fans of both teams have on the referee?
Collina: There's no fans influence - zero!
The referee is 100% concentrated on the match, so all the things that happen around the game have absolutely no influence. I think the best way to deal with it is to do your job naturally, focusing on your task.
It should be the same for the players too. Obviously, again, it can be subjective, but from my personal point of view the influence is zero.
This match will be full of emotions. It is about fame and above all about a lot of money. How does a referee handle the immense pressure?
Collina: Football at the highest level is a sport about ‘super-professionals’, with so many interests, economical ones too. The referee really has a great responsibility and has to be aware of all that stuff.
Preparation and experience help to deal with this kind of responsibility. Preparation is key because if the referee is well prepared, then he's ready to deal with his task and it's easier for him to handle the pressure.
How does a referee consider the individual characters of both teams in such a final in his preparation for the match?
Collina: The psychological aspect is a key factor in this kind of important matches. The referee has to be smart to understand the behaviour of the players in the game to deal with it in the perfect way.
But the referee's task is to make sure the rules are respected, so he has to be ready to make unpopular decisions if he feels they're the right ones.
You have been the referee in the Champions League final 1999 between Bayern Munich and Manchester United. What did you have in your mind in the last 2 minutes?
Collina: I think I experienced the two most thrilling minutes in Champions League history, with those two goals in stoppage time which turned the result around.
That moment represented the essence of emotions, in different ways: happiness on one side, the contrary on the other one. And even for a neutral person like me it was an unforgettable emotion.
How important is the experience of a referee on this final?
Collina: It's an important element. It's something a referee really needs in a Champions League final.
It's impossible to assign a match like this to a young or inexperienced referee. You have to be ready, so you need previous experience in major club and international matches.