Still 9 days (or exactly 216 hours) to go until the FIFA World Cup 2014 will be kicked-off in São Paulo and the 33rd Team's presence in Brazil is materializing more and more.
In the meanwhile, the match officials have arrived in Brazil and have taken up their quarters. The first photos reaching us via social networks show proud and delighted referee trios who apparently cannot wait for the start of the competition. However, these remaining days are not thought to be a week of tourism and relaxing for the 90 match officials. In excellent facilities, this corporate build-up is rather akin to a training camp both on a theoretical and practical level.
Besides deep instructions with regards to the uniform interpretation of the Laws of the Game and the last motivation speeches by Massimo Busacca, the referees and assistant referees will have to conduct a version of the Yoyo-Intermittent-Endurance-Test on Wednesday, 4th June. Therefore, there is still the hypothetical and hopefully irrelevant opportunity that there will be officials suffering from sudden injuries or failing to cope with the requirements of this test. Until now, only one official had to be removed from the World Cup list: Fijian assistant referee Ravinesh Kumar, due to injury.
In this scenario, there would be a difference to previous World Cups. In former times (in 2010), the entire referee trio were sent home by FIFA as soon as one of the officials had failed the fitness tests. That's why Paraguay's Carlos Amarilla and Algerian Mohamed Benouza missed the competition in South Africa - they passed the tests, their assistants did not though. So the whole teams had to go home.
In Kumar's case, this would have meant that the whole Oceanian trio headed by Peter O'Leary would have been sent home. But, as this has not been the case, FIFA's dealing with injuries has obviously changed.