Rumours have been surfacing over the past few years confident that FIFA would abolish the age limit on international referees. Each time, it would return stronger in the form of news articles and even once, from the Third Team. Nothing concrete ever became of it despite the acceptance that it was a close-minded perspective to the game of football.
But this time…
Thanks to New York Soccer Referee Academy, I’m proud to be one of the first people to announce this. The news really washed over everyone in the refereeing blogosphere having been published over 2 months ago!
FIFA’s circular on the matter (notice the omission of a retirement age/any limit). The meaning of this omission was confirmed with the FIFA Refereeing Department.
Effective the upcoming calendar year, member associations can nominate anyone within the stipulated requirements which includes re-nominating referees aged 45 years. The argument in previous years was that:
- the limit allowed for opportunity for younger referees to get into the fold sooner rather than later.
- referees on the list could not monopolise their time there if their performance began to coast or decline (when regulations may have been weaker).
- an age limit helped set performance goals (achievability and timelines).
- fitness was easier to achieve for referees below the age limit striving for a FIFA badge.
- Good referees are retained as long as they can maintain fitness and performance standards.
- Refereeing is a career open to everyone.
Your thoughts? A good or bad decision?
Will recently retired referees be happy or upset at this news? Do you see any comebacks to refereeing happening?