Who is a referee
All those who has watched a football match of any import would have seen a man holding whistle in his mouth and running along with the players keeping a distance and having a watchful eye on the ball players and the various lines drawn on the football ground. His whistle stops and starts the play and the players act understanding his gesticulations with hand and the strength and length of the whistle. He shows different coloured cads to the players sometimes. He is the referee.
To say it precisely and briefly, a referee is the authorised official on the playground who controls a match or game from its start to end and ensures that the game is played complying the related rules and regulations . Sports and games are rule specific and there should be one to oversee and judge and ensure that the game proceeds following and complying with these rules . In some games like cricket, the equivalent of referee is called umpire.
The main referee is assisted by two or more assistant referees also, who are called line umpires or line referees.
Who can become a referee
Anyone who has the aspiration, will and determination to become a referee and has the minimum eligibility can become one after undergoing the necessary specific course conducted by accredited sport body.
The minimum eligibility are:
Age; 18 to 45 years.
Physical fitness and good eye sight
The person should have communication and observational skills, knowledge and self confidence to take unbiased right decisions even under pressure, good people management skills, with a professional attitude and approach with calmness and stability.
Registration: One has first to register with the local Football Association which is a Member Association of All India Football Federation.(AIFF). Then one has to undergo training and pa the relevant tests. There are different levels of refereeing. The starting level or beginners level is category V. Then it progresses to category 1 in the National level refereeing. After that one can become FIFA referee.
Who conducts courses and tests
For Refereeing level
Category V to Category III- Relevant State Football Association
Category II & Category I- All India Football Federation (AIFF)
For the FIFA level refereeing the courses is conducted by FIFA.
The training at the beginner's level is given by the State Football Association. The candidates are given t raining class on the laws of the game. Tests are conducted as : Theory Tests, Praqctical tests and Physical fitness tests.
Candidates have to clear all tests.
After clearing Category V (beginner's level) tests, one has to officiate as referee in lower division matches like school, district level football etc. Performance of the referee is evaluated from these. Promotion to next level is made after a year of satisfactory performance and passing various tests, in a particular level.
Hence it takes minimum 4 years of successful performance and tests to reach category 2 national level referee. From there one can become category 1 professional league matches.
To become a FIFA referee one has to reach the highest level in refereeing in one's own country. FIFA referee has to retire at the age of 45 . AIFF in association with FIFA,( the world body of football associations ,) has started conducting various FIFA referee courses in India. That includes physical fitness courses too.
What is the remuneration for a football referee.
In India, as of now it is more a passion than profession. The referees were given remuneration for each game depending on the level of th game. Most people who officiate as football referee in India have some other job or activity as their main source of income. However things are slowly changing and AIFF has started engaging referees on contracts and salary. The Super League matches has come to stay and are becoming popular and income earning also. Referees officiating international matches(FIFA referees) are paid better.
What are the other prospects for an experienced /retired referee
Such persons can become referee training instructors, can use the knowledge and experience with various development and training activities related to football.
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This article of Mr. Venkiteswaran has taken me back to my school days. One of our sports teachers, Mr. Neel Kamal Biswas, was a football referee and weightlifting judge during the 70s and 80s. Mr. Biswas had travelled many places of the country and various other parts of the world. As far as I recollect, he visited Moscow during Moscow Olympics held in 1980 as a weightlifting judge.
After returning from foreign tours, Mr. Biswas used to tell us about the country which he visited and the tournament in which he was a referee. Some students wanted to become football referees but could not undertake the journey because of serious opposition in the family.
I immensely like this article because Mr. Venkiteswaran has indicated the procedure of becoming a football referee. He has also mentioned about the new pay structure for the referees. Earlier the payment of referees was indeed very low.
Many of us don't know that referees, umpires, judges of various sports, can travel many new countries and also earn handsomely. I also got an opportunity to meet Mr. Swaroop Kishan, an international cricket umpire who was famous during 70s and 80s. Mr. Saroop Kishan was a clerk in a Central Govt. Ministry, but he used to travel a lot (both within and outside India) those days.
I sincerely thank Mr. Venkiteswaran for this useful, informative and not-so-common article. Expecting similar articles on hockey an cricket umpires from him.