Ref­eree Clat­ten­burg opens up on cop­ing with er­rors

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -


In the hours and even days af­ter blow­ing the fi­nal whis­tle, Mark Clat­ten­burg en­dures hid­den anguish as the de­ci­sions made dur­ing 90 min­utes of ref­er­ee­ing whirl through his mind.

“If I make a mis­take, it beats me up,” Clat­ten­burg told The As­so­ci­ated Press dur­ing a rare in­ter­view. “It’s about be­ing able to cope with you be­ing wrong. I sup­pose that is some­thing I strug­gled with in the early part of my ca­reer where I couldn’t park it and soon I’d make an­other mis­take, an­other mis­take and an­other mis­take.”

Rarely is there pub­lic praise - only in­tense scru­tiny of any mis­takes - for soc­cer’s top ref­er­ees, par­tic­u­larly when you have over­seen foot­ball’s big­gest fi­nals in 2016 like Clat­ten­burg and be­come as well known as the stars of the game.

It doesn’t take long for Clat­ten­burg to be­come aware af­ter matches when he has erred in the heat of the mo­ment with mil­lions watch­ing world­wide. The so­cial me­dia back­lash and man­age­rial out­bursts against ref­er­ees are in­evitable. Even if Clat­ten­burg tried to blank out such pub­lic crit­i­cism, there are the pri­vate mes­sages re­ceived on his phone with cri­tiques from as­ses­sors flag­ging up mis­takes.

“You have some video clips sent to you on your phone (in the Premier League) or in Europe you have com­ments on your mobile phone af­ter the match,” the 41-year-old English­man said. “You will know if you have done OK or not. Then you start re­flect­ing on what you could have done dif­fer­ently. Nearly ev­ery game you want to do some­thing dif­fer­ently.”

Clat­ten­burg, who was en­trusted with the fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League, Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship and FA Cup this year, con­sults a psy­chol­o­gist. “The men­tal strength of ref­er­ee­ing now is prob­a­bly one of the big­gest things,” he said.


Such can­dor is rare from English Premier League ref­er­ees who are usu­ally pre­vented from speak­ing pub­licly. In­stead, fans make as­sump­tions. “Some peo­ple have this per­cep­tion that I’m an ar­ro­gant per­son but, when you are on the pitch, you have got to deal with these play­ers dif­fer­ently than in life,” Clat­ten­burg said, adding he has ma­tured dur­ing 12 years over­see­ing games in the Premier League af­ter be­ing named ref­eree of the year at a cer­e­mony in Dubai.

“I am strong willed now,” Clat­ten­burg said. “I do what I be­lieve is cor­rect. I’m a pro­fes­sional but I have to make sure I ap­ply my per­son­al­ity to the pitch be­cause you have to have per­son­al­ity and not ro­bots. Play­ers want a lit­tle bit of per­son­al­ity.”

Clat­ten­burg reached the pin­na­cle of his pro­fes­sion the hard way. He was fired by the Premier League ref­er­ees’ body in 2009 over busi­ness deal­ings but won an ap­peal and was re­in­stated. In 2014, Chelsea ac­cused Clat­ten­burg of mak­ing a racist re­mark to­ward mid­fielder John Obi Mikel and it took a month for the au­thor­i­ties to clear the ref­eree of wrong­do­ing.

“It was a tough mo­ment in life and the pres­sures were huge. It took me a lit­tle while to come back be­cause I didn’t know if I wanted to ref­eree or not be­cause I lost the love for ref­er­ee­ing,” Clat­ten­burg said.

The love was re­gained and Clat­ten­burg feels stronger cop­ing with pres­sure. And rather than just re­flect­ing on the highs of 2016, Clat­ten­burg now opens up about where he went wrong - start­ing with — AP

SEVILLE: This is a Nov. 22, 2016 file photo of English ref­eree Mark Clat­ten­burg of Bri­tain as he shows a yel­low card to Ju­ven­tus’ Pa­trice Evra dur­ing the Group H Cham­pi­ons League soc­cer match be­tween Sevilla and Ju­ven­tus at the Ra­mon Sanchez-Pizjuan sta­dium in Seville, Spain. — AP

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