Refs will be full of pre-match ten­sion

Daily Mail - - Sports - @MAIL_GPoll

RE­LIEF — that’s what the 35 ref­er­ees, their as­sis­tants and VAR of­fi­cials will be feel­ing as the World Cup gets un­der way to­day. Yet there will also be trep­i­da­tion. Ap­point­ments are re­vealed in batches of four to six at a time and you are des­per­ate to get your cam­paign un­der way, but know you may have to wait un­til match­day 12 or later. There is a real ‘team feel’ in­side the ref­er­ees’ camp which is en­cour­aged by FIFA as they look for con­sis­tency, ir­re­spec­tive of dif­fer­ent dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties in the video booth — surely an­other po­ten­tial is­sue, not just due to lan­guage but also ex­pe­ri­ence and ethos. Ar­gen­tinian Nestor Pitana will ref­eree that match, which is seen in ref­er­ee­ing cir­cles as the sec­ond best ap­point­ment af­ter the fi­nal. And the top of­fi­cials? I like San­dro Ricci (Brazil), Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey), and Ravshan Ir­ma­tov (Uzbek­istan), but Felix Brych of Ger­many is prob­a­bly best of the lot.

GRA­HAM POLL

ex­pe­ri­ence and cul­ture. The other feel­ing as your game gets closer is nerves, which will ei­ther be eased as col­leagues go out and do well or in­creased if things aren’t go­ing well and you are see­ing highly crit­i­cal de­brief­ings. Those present at the ref­eree base sit through video feed­back and anal­y­sis of all games. It’s very un­com­fort­able sit­ting with of­fi­cials who have erred and strug­gled. The group this time will be in­ter­ested to see what ef­fect VAR has in real and psy­cho­log­i­cal terms. As­sis­tants hav­ing been told not to flag for a tight off­side is all well and good but they tend to see de­ci­sions as black and white — off­side or not — so to ask them to change will not be easy. It’s also no­tice­able that the first match will have three

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