Matuidi: "Refereeing a football match is an art"

Matuidi: “Refereeing a football match is an art”

Earlier in the week, Blaise Matuidi dressed as a patron of La Poste’s Arbitration Days, which take place from October 18-30. After taking the whistle to put himself in the shoes of the men and women in black this Tuesday morning during a youth match, the world champion sat down for a few minutes to share his vision of refereeing, in light of this experience, and some memories.

This Tuesday morning you met young referees, others more experienced, such as Clément Turpin and Stéphanie Frappart, and especially you whistled in a youth match. What do you remember about this day?
It was a real moment of sharing, and I learned a lot from him. I had the opportunity to take the robe with me, not bad, huh? (Laughter.) I think he would have been a good referee. I loved the experience, anyway. Putting yourself in their place, you realize the sporting level and the difficulty in making the right decisions. It was also nice to be able to chat with Stéphanie Frappart and Clément Turpin, who are great French referees.

“Why not regularly put players in the shoes of referees to introduce them to the profession? »

Was it the first time you took on the role of referee on the pitch?
Yes, precisely, that’s why he was rich. I thought we should do this more often. Why not regularly put players in the shoes of referees to introduce them to the profession? Today I told myself that the referees deserve the hat before them. Respect, we must have it, but here I want to say bravo. They have to manage the sporting aspect, the stress, the decision-making in a few seconds, it’s quite exceptional. When you’re a player, you have to face these kinds of situations, put yourself to the test, as I was able to do with these youngsters. There they could tell us: “This is what we endure every weekend. » And again, they have the public, the hostile environment, professional and amateur, it must be something.

What was the most difficult for you?
Decision making, that marked me too much. It was not the same context as in Ligue 1 or in important games, but he happened to tell me “Damn, I’m wrong” knowing I couldn’t go back. I put myself in the shoes of the referees, taking into account that I can make mistakes. The important thing is to be responsible and not go back on a decision made. The hardest part is getting her to be accepted around me. I still saw the young people who were a little frustrated (laughs), even knowing that it was me at the whistle, that is what is extraordinary and revealing. We must be examples for everyone, and especially for the fans where there are many communication difficulties between trainers, players and referees. I believe that a system must be put in place, a bridge between the professional world and the amateur on these issues.

“The referee can even feel the football better than us sometimes. »

In the speeches of one and the other, we sometimes feel that there is a gap between the players and the referees, as if their vision of football was not the same. Have you ever had this kind of feeling?
Of course, you can have this feeling when you are in the field. But that is wrong, we are wrong. The referee can even smell the football better than us, sometimes. They have deep analysis of facts and gestures. He was talking to Mr. Turpin, who told me that at that moment, when he saw Maxwell come to the side, he knew he was going to cross instead of overshoot every time. He knew that he was going to look for Zlatan in the air. It’s analysis, detail, it’s also feeling the game at the moment. That is why I also say that the referee is part of this football family, we are together. Without them, we can’t play.

We often get the impression that communication between players and referees is difficult. Have you ever talked to people outside of the games?
Yes, we could talk fast when we got together at the end of meetings or at events. I totally agree that there should be more moments of dialogue, so that they can give their feelings, and we ours, in peace. It’s tricky when you’re in the heat of the action on the pitch, everyone’s on adrenaline.

“We lose a lot of passes or games, it happens. I imagine it can be frustrating for a referee to think that he has no right to tell us when we miss a penalty, when we come to reprimand him five minutes later for a trivial foul in midfield. »

PSG players were still criticized recently for going around the referee at seven or eight to play, it’s almost a tradition at the club in recent years. What do you think about that?
It is true that sometimes we abuse it. I say it, but I was also part of it. I think it is important to establish relays within the team. Two or three responsible executives are needed to talk to the referee and you have to communicate it to the rest of the locker room. There’s no point in rushing to eight with him. He would have to go through some sort of protocol with the captain. From the moment he conveys the message, everyone must respect him. It’s such an idea, it’s not my role either. To err is human, we all do it. We miss many passes or games, it happens. I imagine it can be frustrating for a referee to think that he has no right to tell us when we miss a penalty, when we come to reprimand him five minutes later for a trivial foul in midfield.

You have experienced football with and without VAR. What has changed this technological tool?
There are several considerations to take into account. Personally, I liked the natural, instinctive, VAR-free side. Leave room for interpretation and avoid waiting two minutes to find out if the goal we scored is valid. Then, I’m not going to lie, I would have liked the 2017 Barcelona-PSG video to be there, I’m not sure we would have been eliminated.

“Anyway, on the night of reassembled, we were wrong, we not only owe our defeat and our elimination to arbitration. »

the reassembled in Barcelona, ​​is this the worst refereeing memory of your career?
It must be a very bad memory. But hey, we were bad, we not only owe our defeat and our elimination to arbitration. I tell myself that if we had been better, the referee could have been wrong, and that would not have prevented us from going through after the great victory in the first leg. (He thinks.) In truth, even on game night, I’m not mad at the referee. Only the immense sadness of this defeat remains.

He has rarely challenged arbitration decisions in the media, except perhaps after the elimination against Real Madrid with Juventus in the Champions League in April 2018. (The referee awards a penalty in added time as Juve had fallen behind with a 3-0 lead.) After the meeting, you say that “The referee ruined everything” . What goes through your head at that moment?
All of that is the frustration of a man who has just lost, of being eliminated. It is not someone from Real Madrid who is going to come out with such a statement, he is the loser. But am I being objective? I’m horny and I’m not objective. In retrospect, we tell ourselves that the referee has made his decision in a conflict situation and that nothing can be done about it. We have the right to think that he was wrong, but there will be many people in front of him who will think otherwise. I should not have said that.

A year later, you are the victim of racist insults in Cagliari. Do you think referees should stop matches when a player is a victim of racism?
In fact, I am not in favor of it being the referee’s responsibility. Football is a family, we are 22 players on the field. If everyone decides to go out, why do they absolutely want the decision to be up to the referee? Why not the others? It may have to come from above and be automated, without the actors on the ground having to improvise.

Finally, would you find it wise and rewarding for refereeing if more former players decided to take the whistle after hanging up their crampons?
It is still a job, it takes years of learning. I would even say that refereeing a match is art. It is not easy for everyone. It also seems physically exhausting… But I agree that it could be interesting to see more former players become referees. The limit is perhaps that it would gain more respect, and that would create a new problem, an inequality. The most important thing is not to make a distinction between all football players.

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