His merits were also noted by the President. UZ24 journalist spoke with Ravshan Irmatov. Ravshan Irmatov tells about the story of how he became a world-class referee, how he prepares for matches, and what relations he has with Messi and the Argentina national team.
"I was told that I will not be allowed to judge the world cups!"
In 2002, FIFA seminar was hosted in Uzbekistan. During that time FIFA observers saw me and recommended to the panel of FIFA referees. Already in 2003, I took part in the World Youth Championship. Then we come to the attention instructors and organizers of World Cup. Instructors of FIFA World Cup and the inspectors are representatives of two different organizations.
In 2007, in Switzerland in February began the selection of referees for the World Cup in 2010. Preparation for the World Cup is held during three years. Instructors are carefully evaluating referees from around the world and in the end are 23 to 24 teams of referees are selected for the World Cup.
I'll never forget the first time I got there, I was called by the Scottish instructor and asked where I was from. After finding out that I was from Uzbekistan, he did not understand where it is at first and said: "Ravshan, you don’t put much effort here. You see how many referees are here from different countries where football is very developed. Train, raise your skills, but do not think that you will be allowed to judge the World Cup matches."
3 years have passed and I heard my name on the list of 24 referees, who will go to the World Cup. It was an exciting and joyful event. I think we have proved that we are no worse than others during that time. But that was just the beginning.
"Who is this Irmatov? Where is he from? Where is that, Uzbekistan?"
The main difficulty of judging is not that you run for 90 minutes, it is that you have to sharpen every movement, analyze each situation, because any movement decides your fate. Before the World Cup in 2010, we have been preparing for 4 months. Visiting all the seminars, which are organized by FIFA, June 6, gathered the whole refereeing council.
Then the representatives of the African Council announced that our team will judge the opening match. At first no one understood and all sat in silence, but after the news was repeated 3 times everyone stood up and started cheering. The next morning, the press agent brought me a whole stack of papers with printouts of newspaper headlines, where there was a mass of negativity in our address. There were questions such as: Who is this Irmatov? Where is he from? Where is that, Uzbekistan? It was very important to avoid mistakes during the match. Then we have already began to be appointed for different matches, and a negative opinion gradually transitioned to positive.
Each match is the fate of a participating country, it's millions of fans, so every match must be approached responsibly. Before the match, I tell my team that we should not only show what we are capable of doing, however, also demonstrate the upper class, because at stake is country's image.
At the match we should be at a distance of 10 meters from the ball. In one match we're running a distance of up to 18 km. The heart beats 3 times per second. In this mode, we are working for 90 minutes, sometimes 120 minutes. We spend 2000 calories. This is a stress on the body. And at the same time during the run, we have to watch the movements of the players and make a decision in a split second, taking into account the 6-7 criteria simultaneously, because on the field you cannot view the replay. Often we have to turn to intuition.
In addition, we carefully study the players of the team. For two or three days before the game, we review all the games and study the behavior of each player. In recent years, we see a lot of malingering by the players. I would like to tell you a story that happened when I was assigned to Costa Rica match with Netherlands. We have been reviewing their matches for three days viewed all their games, and recognized the most dangerous player Arjen Robben. Already before the match I went to Robben and said, "Arjen, you are the most exemplary player in the world. All young players aspire to be like you. Everyone loves you for your goals, for your excellent dribbling, but not because of the simulations of foul."
After the first half of the match, Robben, being close by, joked that he wanted to make a simulation, but always saw me near. I laughed. If he had tried to simulate during that match, he would have received a second yellow and missed the next match.
After each match, we hold special recovery trainings. There are specialists who are helping us to recover, because the human body needs 72 hours to recover from the maximum load.
"Maradona personally thanked us for the match ..."
If you remember in one of the matches involving Argentina, Maradona, who do not usually like to thank the referees, even if his team wins, came out on the field and shook hands with us. And note, this was after the defeat of Argentina. This means that he had no claim to our referees and all the rumors about the negative attitude of Argentina to our referee team has no truth. That's because of the lack of professionalism of one person can be deceived so many people. I found out about this from Uzbekistan, as in Brazil, from the Argentine side I have not heard any news about it, but we all say only that. After that, I turned to FIFA to clarify the situation, where I was told that what former referee writes on his page does not matter.
"Rumors of match fixing are profitable to someone"
Someone spreading rumors about match fixing in the framework of the World Cup, about this writes the media, however, no one can cite facts. Everyone thinks so, but there is no evidence. It seems to me that someone just benefits from the spread of such rumors.
"We were not prepared physically for the semifinal, but everything went well"
You better ask, was there an easy game? But if you admit this was a semi-final between Uruguay and Holland in 2010. Before it, one of the most difficult matches was a quarter final between Argentina and Germany. After that we spent a whole day on the road and only arrived, we were told that we should go back to Cape Town and to officiate the match Uruguay - Netherlands. Exhausted, mentally tired because of the long trip.
We have not even had a recovery workout and the next day we went to Cape Town. And after it again on the road, and again on the match. And just imagine - it was the semi-finals! If we were in Cape Town, it might be easier. We were not prepared physically, we have not examined the players previous matches and in this condition went out to the field. But the game went well.
"The goal was not counted because of our mistake"
If you remember, there was a moment when, because of the offside, the goal was void. On the 75 minute into the game Switzerland - Ecuador (World Championship - 2014), The linesman raised his flag and declared offside. I then asked Bahodir, if he is sure about the offside, to which he replied positively. We continued to play, unaware of the fact that a mistake was made. We have discovered all this later. When the match ended, the Norwegian referee said that we were wrong. Fortunately, the match ended in a draw, and it was not a fatal mistake. Usually after such situations in the referee team the assistant referees are being changes, but we decided to keep our team to end. I believe that it was the right decision.
"Messi realized his mistakes after getting a warning"
When you judge, you go out on the field, you're not thinking about who is playing there, whether its a star or not. Everyone should be equal. Of course, you hold on your mind, which players have a dangerous game, and who can create problems. But for the judges every game is played by two teams: in white and red forms. With Messi its a similar situation. I should add that he does not speak English, only Spanish. And I do not speak Spanish very well. If he spoke in English, maybe I would be able to better convey to him information about his wrongdoing. However, it turned out that he realized his mistake only after having received a warning.
"#IrmatovBest promotion gave us a spirit in Brazil"
We heard about this event in Brazil, and to be honest, were very happy about how we were supported in Uzbekistan. Everyone was curious and asked us to tell, what is happening in our country in connection with this promotion. It was a pleasant surprise, and raised us up and gave spiritual strength. I thank all those who participated in this promotion. Thank you all!
"We had a little time to discuss refereeing of Rizzoli"
After the final game, we immediately left for the airport, so we had little time to discuss refereeing of Rizzoli. And a team of referees is like a family, every mistake or victory of each member we are experiencing together. If we talk about the way Rizzoli officiated, its a world class specialist and his team did a great job at the final match.
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