After a World Cup there are always a number of analyses of different aspects of the tournament, including refereeing.

There were some high profile mistakes during the competition and while many of the refereeing performances were very good, the general perception is very much influenced by the things which went wrong.

One of the topics for discussion by FIFA is the age of the World Cup referees. There were some young referees making their World Cup debut and they performed admirably.

Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekistan, at 32 was the youngest referee in the tournament and FIFA made a clear statement by appointing him to referee the opening match, the second most prestigious appointment of the competition.

He was then appointed to another four matches including, unusually, a quarter final and a semi final, the match between Uruguay and Netherlands..

The other semi final between Germany and Spain was refereed by another young referee, 34 year old Viktor Kassai of Hungary. In some cases both Kassai and Irmatov would be younger than some of the players they were refereeing.

Howard Webb of England who refereed the Final was 38 and has come through the UEFA Talent Scheme for referees. He is now a professional referee having taken extended leave from his job as a policeman to officiate in the English Premier League.

In a recent interview, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he believes top international referees should be younger. He also said that he was also for professional referees, even though he knew there was some opposition to the idea.

In England there are 19 full time referees, paid attractive salaries through Professional Game Match Official Limited (PGMOL). They gather together at Warwick University every two weeks with the PGMOL Head of Refereeing, Mike Riley and have superb supporting back-up from Simon Breveik, Head of Sports Science and his colleague Adam  Kerr who design training programmes, monitor the referees’ training data and fitness test the match officials on a regular basis.

Prozone, the market leader in Match Analysis Systems, provides each referee with a detailed analysis of his match, including movement patterns, heart rate, average distance from the ball etc, and they also have the benefit of feedback from assessors, all of whom are former referees.

Working with referees on a world scale is very different from working within a national league, however.

In the build up to South Africa 2010, FIFA worked with a select group of referees and officials in all the FIFA Tournaments and gathered the referees and on some occasions the assistants together for Fitness Tests and courses. Eventually 30 trios were selected.

Will FIFA now consider creating a small group of elite full time referees and assistants, who will officiate at all the major FIFA tournaments over the four year period leading up to the next World Cup in Brazil and also be available to member associations to control top national matches?

For all the preparation in the build up to South Africa and the investment of a reputed $40 million, one error by the match officials in the Germany v England match will always be remembered.

The best referees are the ones who make the fewest mistakes – and carry a bit of luck!

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