Team of six match officials to control EURO qualifier

FIFA Referee Clayton Pisani will be leading a team of six match officials who will officiate one of the twenty-six matches from the European Qualifiers which are due to be played between June 12 and 14. This was revealed during a press conference by the MFA Refereeing Department on Monday which was addressed by MFA General Secretary Bjorn Vassallo, MFA Director of Refereeing Adrian Casha and UEFA Referees Committee Member David Elleray.

Pisani will be assisted by assistant referees Mitchell Scerri and Duncan Sultana, additional assistant referees Marco Borg and Adrian Azzopardi and fourth official Roberto Vella. The match will only be announced by UEFA a few days before.

MFA Director of Refereeing Adrian Casha said this was the first time, a team of six Maltese match-officials were appointed for an international game by UEFA. He said this appointment was a clear sign of the trust shown by UEFA in the Maltese officials.

Adrian Casha went on to reveal that after controlling the UEFA Under-17 Championship quarter-final between England and Russia, Alan Mario Sant has been appointed as fourth official for the semi-final between France and Belgium.

MFA General Secretary Bjorn Vassallo said that in refereeing, the association has already achieved what it planned to achieve in three years’ time. He said that the association had listened to the needs of this sector and tried to find the way forward. The MFA was given the backing from abroad and thanks to all this, the refereeing sector managed to reach important objectives. In fact, Malta reached objectives which larger countries are yet to achieve.

Vassallo stressed that the refereeing sector could not be left out of the association’s investment as referees were one of the key figures in the game. He concluded by thanking part and present officials of the Refereeing Department for their hard work.

Adrian Casha said that recruitment of new referees was of utmost importance and following the launching of the Academy, the number of referees increased by 45%. The Refereeing Department is not going to embark on a new campaign meant to attract more interest from individuals who could take a career in refereeing. As part of this campaign, four yellow cards with a message to promote refereeing and other promotional material will be distributed.

Former English international referee David Elleray – UEFA Referees Committee Member responsible for Maltese match officials and senior course leader of the CORE programme – said that since his first visit to Malta in 2011, there was remarkable improvement in the refereeing sector. Demanding high standards and creating competition was the recipe for improvement. He said that the ‘old guard’ were being challenged in a positive way by the younger referees. The former English international referee praised the performance of referees Philip Farrugia, Fyodor Zammit and Trustin Farrugia Cann, over the weekend, saying that they had put in an exceptional performance.

“Malta has a good generation of older referees and an excellent generation of younger referees,” commented Elleray.

David Elleray said that refereeing was becoming a sport for youngsters who have to be athletic and fit and days of the old referees are long gone.

Refereeing should be there to help and not hinder the game. He said people enjoy it when referees leave the game flow.

He stressed on the importance of ‘safe refereeing’ – protecting the game by preventing small situations from escalating in something serious. Referees should be strong on bad fouling – physical offences should be dealt with strongly and technical offences managed.
Football benefits

“A referee who understands football can be a better servant of football,” said Elleray.

Bjorn Vassallo thanked David Elleray for his support and for his commitments towards association.

Meanwhile other international appointments in the coming weeks include the appointment of referee Adrian Azzopardi, assistant referees Alan Camilleri and Jurgen Spiteri for the Under-21 international friendly between Bulgaria and Cyprus on June 9; referees Marco Borg and Esther Azzopardi for the World University Games in South Korea between June 2nd and 13th and referee Esther Azzopardi for the UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship finals between the 15th and 27th July in Israel.

In the mean time, two teams of match-officials, namely referee Alan Mario Sant and assistant referees Edward Spiteri and Paul Apap; referee Andre Arciola, assistant referees William Debattista and Thomas Debono – will be controlling domestic league matches in the Republic of Ireland.