A referee’s ability and competence to handle a competitive football game really commences BEFORE THE MATCH. His warming up appearance and communication skills must have a good impression on players, team officials and the spectators before he tosses the coin for the captains to make their choice of ends.
Although this discussion deliberately ignores some commonplace duties of the referee, it is important to repeat that the referee and his assistants must carry out an INSPECTION of the stadium. Particularly the field of play, the field markings, substitution equipment and first aid services.
The referee must also remind both teams and their managers of the KICK-OFF TIME, confirm the kick-off time and emphasise punctuality. It is expected that during the PRE-MATCH meeting, the referee would have reminded the players, coaches and other team officials of their obligations to respect fair play, the decisions of the referee and generally be aware of the serious consequences of poor sportsmanship and a lack of discipline.
It is important, especially in our part of the world, to emphasise that it is the duty of the referee to select the match balls, which should be FIFAapproved and inspected.
Although shin guards will be inspected as the players line up in the tunnel, they must be reminded that the shin guards must be on throughout the duration of the match.
Also, thetechnical benches and their occupants should be told that only one person per team is authorised to convey technical instructions to their players at any one time from within the confines of the technical area and that they must return to their position after giving the instructions.
It is very common for our local referees to ignore giving instructions to ball boys before the match. Ball boys must be properly briefed and instructed as to why and where they should be positioned and that they should release balls quickly unto the field of play without delay. There are many occasions where they try to delay and keep balls, especially to the advantage of home teams.
Finally, referees must ensure that there should be no kick-off until the situation within the stadium, its environs and the stands is under complete control, especially with regard to security. This, however, does not imply that the stadium must be quiet or silent.
Paying good attention to issues before the beginning of any competitive match is very important since referees cannot go back to address these issues once the match has started, nothing should be taken for granted. Attention to all details go a long way in establishing the authority of the referee. It also helps to impress upon the minds of both players and team officials that the referee is up to his responsibilities and duties.
Again, it helps to establish a good relationship between the match officials, the teams and their officials.