The sixteen match-officials on the FIFA Panel for 2015 were presented with the badges by MFA General Secretary Bjorn Vassallo and Vice-President and Chairman of the Referees’ Committee Alex Manfre during an event which was held at the Grand Hotel Excelsior on Friday.
The FIFA Referees are Adrian Azzopardi, Marco Borg, Clayton Pisani, Alan Mario Sant and Esther Azzopardi, the Assistant Referees Alan Camilleri, William Debattista, Mitchell Scerri, Edward Spiteri, Ingmar Spiteri, Jurgen Spiteri, Duncan Sultana and Roberto Vella, Futsal Referee Franco Cachia and Beach Soccer Referees Stefan Pace and Jude Amin Utulu.
Director of Refereeing Adrian Casha said that although a year ago there were people who doubted the progress the association was doing in the refereeing sector, the fact that Malta regained a fourth FIFA Referee and eight FIFA Assistant Referees is a clear sign of the progress registered.
Malta also managed to obtain two promotions out of twenty-three match officials who were promoted by UEFA to a higher category as Clayton Pisani and Alan Mario Sant were promoted to First Category and Second Category respectively due to the high ratings received in their appointments.
Casha said that Clayton Pisani’s promotion is even more remarkable as there are only 35 countries in Europe who have at least a referee in either the Elite Category or the First Category, meaning that the level of Maltese officials is among the best in Europe. This is also the case for Esther Azzopardi in Women’s Football, Franco Cachia in Futsal and Jude Amin Utulu in Beach Soccer.
MFA General Secretary Bjorn Vassallo spoke about the importance of psychology in refereeing and while the success or failure of a referee depends on both the physical and the psychological aspects, sometimes referees focus too much on the physical aspect. He said that studies show that the psychological aspect is actually the skill of the referee.
A large number of referees, including those who are currently attending the Academy, were present for the event.