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Younger referees need of the hour: Sankar

Posted on : Monday August 31, 2009

Komaeeswaran Sankar is the only referee from India to have officiated final round of World Cup matches. The 46-year-old has not only officiated, FIFA World Cup matches but also officiated in the final round of 2000 Sydney Olympics. With vast experience in his pocket Sankar spoke to the www.the-aiff.com about this experience and the standard in India on the eve of the Referees day. Excerpts

Q) How long have you been a FIFA referee and how has been the journey so far?
A) It has been a journey of 14 long years for me in the FIFA panel and it had been a good journey. I have just retired from the FIFA panel three months back and currently I am the referees instructor/assessor with the All India Football Federation. 

Q) How would you describe the standard of refereeing in India?
A) The standard of refereeing in India is excellent considering the exposure our referees get. The way forward would be to have younger referees and better training and exposure. We need to make the career attractive at all levels.

Q) How much difference is there in officiating, a match abroad and in India and what are these?
A) There are five general parameters of officiating any matches and those are; Fitness, Knowledge, Interpretation, Exposure to high pressure situation and Professionalism. On these counts, Knowledge wise Indian referees are good enough but they need to work on their fitness level and be more professional. 

Q) How do you think the standard of Indian refereeing can be improved?
A) A prime requisite would be start people when they are in the 24 to 28 age category. They have to travel the ranks and by 32-35 be a FIFA referee. Right now most are nearing retirement before they reach the top. Frequent training and professionalism will definitely improve standards.

Q) Which has been the most toughest match that you have ever officiated?
A) I would say officiating even a local match for a referee is difficult but Sydney Olympics game between Brazil and Cameroon was the most difficult one in my entire career. Because most of the top players at that time including Ronaldo and all were playing the game and there was lot pressure. Though Cameroon won the match but both the teams played an aggressive game and I had to ensure that I don’t commit a single mistake as it would have turned the result completely.