As guest speaker for October, we were pleased to welcome for a return visit a living legend of lining Phil Sharp who has the distinction of being assistant referee at both a World Cup Final; and an Olympic Final. At the 2002 World Cup Final in Tokyo he lined to the great Pierluigi Collina, which Phil pointed out couldn’t happen today as officials go to top tournaments in teams from the same country. This does unfortunately mean that some top assistants don’t get the chance to go as they don’t have a top referee in their country selected for the tournament.
Phil has now retired after thirty years but the subject of his presentation was Euro 2012. EUFA obviously realised that they should make use of his talent and experience for they asked him to give some pre-tournament training to the selected assistant referees. Although he was left to devise the training what UEFA was looking for was improving the correctness of offside judgements.
There were twelve referees from twelve different countries so there were twice as many assistant referees, plus four from other countries who didn’t have a referee selected for the tournament and who were going to act as reserves. Phil took the decision to form four groups and to mix up the assistants from the various nations involved. He thought this would help create a feeling of togetherness of the whole group. He recruited local players to create offside decisions for each assistant referee in turn. These were videoed and then each participant was shown the result of his decision straight away on replay.
It was important he said when you run the line to have done your preparation and go out in the right frame of mind. Look at the whole body, the defender might for instance be keeping the player onside with his legs. If you have an attacker nearest to you when players are in a line, which he illustrated with members, he may be blocking the defender who is actually keeping him onside leading you into making a wrong decision. It can help in these circumstances to take a step backward which can give you a clearer view. Also sometimes when play is close to you it also helps to spot offences if you move away slightly. When lining he had trained himself not to flag for very minor offsides. Videos had shown that players moved so quickly that it was impossible to be that certain and again he illustrated this with members showing that players could easily be four metres apart in a second.