The Swiss talked referee training methods, tournament performance and much more.

FIFA Head of Refereeing Massimo Busacca was available for a brief chat with the media in Kolkata on Monday where he talked about how the referees have fared in this FIFA U-17 World Cup, how the host nation’s team performed and also how the tournament has been organised.

“As teams wake up and prepare for the games, so do the referees,” said Busacca claiming that referees train as hard as any other individual or team does to get physically fit for the highly-demanding job. He said that the referees’ training have two aspects – the physical and the tactical.

“The competition is very fast and the referees have to be fit and running even though the climate is very hot and humid here”, Busacca said. He also stated that the referees are prepared the tactical way where after the physical training they are made to watch the watch videos in the classrooms.

The videos help referees analyse what they did wrong and in the next training session, they are made to work on that particular aspect to improve like every other football team or individual does. Busacca also emphasized that even after such rigorous training, mistakes can happen since referees and assistants are humans.

“I have never seen these many spectators in an U-17 World Cup ever before and it shows that football in India is growing,” said Busacca praising the fans for their continuous support from the stands and expressed his gratefulness. He also praised the performance of the Indian Colts.

“The national side of the hosts did well. They probably don’t have much big experience but we saw some very good individual skills.” Busacca also added that India has proved to the world that it can organise a mega FIFA event like A World Cup.


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The Swiss said that he and his team are very content with their performance in this tournament and in spite of what happened in the GermanyBrazil game they are really happy with how they have fared.

“Indian referees were invited to watch how top referees prepare and train before a match and they really appreciated the opportunity,” Busacca explained when asked how the tournament could help Indian referees develop themselves.

He also added that he saw Indian referees as a group of highly motivated individuals who were keen to learn from the top professionals and predicted that in a few years there will be referees from India at top level FIFA tournaments.

The former Swiss referee expressed his gladness about the VAR technology and it’s success but also stressed the fact technologies can never be a substitute for humans. He said, “I have to admit that technology can never substitute.” He also added that the VAR can still play a big role in eliminating the big scandals from the sport if used the right way.

Busacca sounded thankful that no referee or assistant has been injured while training or during a match in the tournament despite the difficult conditions and hot-humid climate. He also said that the medical department did well to include the water-breaks that help the players and officials to cool themselves and regain the stamina for the rest of the match.

In the conclusion, when questioned about how the approach of referees and assistants has been different for U-17 players from that for senior players Busacca disapproved and said, “The game is the same and we are not changing the approach.”