Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
As usual, the day started with training in the morning (fairly intense with 16x100 meter sprints, followed by 100m jog) and a technical session on the field. We focused on a variety of actual scenarios with players going to goal. The objectives was to determine if there was an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity. It was imperative that we considered the D's in making our decisions.
With no debriefing scheduled, we had the afternoon free. FIFA scheduled a shopping trip (the #1 attraction here in Shanghai and by far the most "experienced" by the referees). Not knowing exactly where we were headed I boarded the bus, just out of a need to stretch my legs and get out of the hotel. Needless to say unless I was looking for imitation hand bags, watches or t-shirts there was nothing for me at the market. However I did find a wonderful park just a few blocks away, actually called a Mausoleum for Martyrs. Some interesting Chinese history at this beautiful park.
But as usual the sign translations where a some of the most entertaining elements of the day. Select your favorite translation of the park rules on this sign
The true focus of the day however, was of course the semi-final which we all watched together live in the referee lounge in the hotel, as the match was being played in TianJin about 1:30 hour flight away.
Thursday's schedule is much the same as Wed, but nothing in the afternoon officially planned so I took team Asia (referees from China, Taiwan and Japan) out to explore. I had my first taxi ride in China. A bit safer than I expected. We made it to our destination with no problem
Now it is time to watch the USA v Brazil semi-final. This game is bound to be one of the most exciting games of the tournament. Go USA.
Friday night FIFA will announce appointments for Sunday's matches. Again, keep your fingers crossed for another appointment :)
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
With only 4 matches of the world cup remaining, we are all very anxious to see what is in store for us as we have some thrilling Semi-Finals coming up and of course the final and 3rd/4th place match.
Today we received assignments for the 2 Semi Finals. 2 referees teams from UEFA will be officiating. Dagmar from CZE is the referee for the Norway v Germany match and Nicole from SUI is the assigned to officiate the USA v Brazil match.
Now we must wait and see to see if the team remaining to represent CONCACAF receives another appointment: Kari Seitz, Isabel Tovar (MEX) and Rita Munoz (MEX). Keep your fingers crossed for us!
Also today Sept 25th, is a special holiday in China. Today is the mid-Autumn festival, where family togetherness is celebrated and moon cakes are eaten. FIFA was kind enough to buys us each a moon cake in order to experience the Chinese culture.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Sunday morning, we had breakfast together at 8:45am followed by a short walk in the nearby neighborhoods. We had our pre-match meeting at 10:45am and are now preparing for the match. We are all excited. The match sold out a week ago, 55,000 spectators. As we walked in the streets with our local guide, many Chinese people asked our guide if we were the referees for the match. Of course she told them “no”, but many called her a liar. They are very eager to see their team tonight in Wuhan.
We officially started our referee ping-pong tournament. Jen’s first opponent is Janie Frampton, FIFA instructor from England. We played our match after dinner with Janie commenting that this was a precursor to the USA vs. England match the following night. Janie put up a good fight, but Jen was able to defeat Janie in two matches and moves on to her next opponent, Fu Hongjue (China). Of course, ping-pong is the national sport in China, so the odds are certainly in favor of Fu, but Jen has been doing some serious mental preparation and visualization to get ready. Meanwhile, Kari’s first opponent is Jerome, our electronic communication expert from France. Both have been doing their fair share of trash talking, but we’ll see who comes out on top. The prospects are not good however; whoever wins will face Alejo, our fitness trainer from Argentina/New Zealand who is arguably one of the better players in the tournament.
Saturday morning, we had three different groups at the morning training session. For Jen’s crew, they had their -1 preparation (one day prior to a match) and for Kari’s crew, they had their +2 preparation. Both physical and practical training continue through the play-offs. At lunch, Jen and her crew departed for Wuhan while the remainder of the referees had their regular meeting to discuss match preparation for the quarterfinals.
When are we leaving and how long will we be gone?
We left for Hangzhou at about 2:30 on the afternoon on Tuesday. We threw or jacket over our heads and rushed through the pouring rain on to the bus scheduled to take us to the train station, on the direct, high-speed train. I glanced out the window to say good-bye to the onlookers when Sonia rushed over and waved us back into the lobby. There she explained the latest development – Typhoon Wipha would be delaying our match by a day - however we would still be leaving immediately. Of course our first thought was, “do I have enough clothes (read: undergarments)”
Jen had been waiting in the lobby to bid Kari and her crew farewell and also found out that her match would be delayed by a day and moved to Hangzhou. An hour later at the debriefing session, Jen and her crew found out that they would be leaving the hotel in less than an hour to travel by train to Hangzhou on the last train that evening.
Traveling at Speed
Hangzhou is only about 200km from Shanghai, so traveling by train is an excellent way to go; especially in a Typhoon. Both groups (on separate trains) were led by the local guide. Adrianna (Kari’s 4th official) had been to Hangzhou three times, so she was an expert. We navigated the station with ease. The train took us through the Chinese countryside, but with the rain it was hard to see. We traveled at about 175kph and arrived in only an hour.
Fun in Hangzhou
Given that the matches had been postponed for a day, we had an entire free day ahead of us in Hangzhou. Our hotel was located across the street from West Lake, a very tranquil setting. However, after an evening of pouring rain and more rain and humidity on its way, we started the day with an indoor activity. The local organizing committee shuttled us to the Hangzhou Silk Mart. We learned all about silk – how it is manufactured by hand and how to determine if it is real. Did you know that real silk is flame resistant and burns cold?
We spent a couple of hours shopping in the silk mart prior to returning to the hotel.
After lunch in the hotel, we spent a good portion of the afternoon walking around the West Lake. The park was originally the home of a famous Chinese poet and throughout the park we were able to see many tributes to his work. Because of the rain and impending storm, there were not many visitors at the lake so we were fortunate to have some tranquil time.
Later in the afternoon, we returned to the hotel for a work-out in the gym. We were planning to watch the other matches on the television at 5pm and 8pm. However, at 5pm, we could not find the match on the television so we went to the FIFA office to see if they had access to the broadcast. We then found out that the two matches had also been postponed only a few hours earlier. So Kari and Jen ventured out once again in the rain to do some sightseeing.
As a group, we started with Breakfast around 8:15am. We hurried along in order to be ready for our local guides who had a “plan” for us from 9-11am. We all agreed that sitting in the hotel all day was not the best way to get us in our optimal stated of mind. With 2 world cup vans and our local guides all seven of us set off for the Hangzhou countryside. Our bus ride ended at the Dragon Well Green Tea “plantation”. Here we learned about making and drinking green tea. Of course we all purchased something and took photos – typical of referees.
Norway vs. Ghana
The first match of the day was Norway vs. Ghana. Jen’s referee team met for their pre-game meeting at the hotel prior to lunch. The referee team left for the stadium 2 hours prior to kick-off. We arrived at the stadium, inspected the field and started preparing for the match. We were greeted by Mr. Angel Maria Villa Llona, the Chairman of the FIFA Referee Committee who was in attendance for both matches. He came to the locker room to wish us well. The match was originally scheduled for Shanghai so there were not many fans in attendance. Ghana had already been eliminated from the play-offs, but that did not discourage their spirit. Their fans were cheering them on with song and dance. There were many combinations which would allow Norway to advance, but to guarantee a place in the play-offs, Norway wanted a win. The match ended 7-2 in favor of Norway so Norway was guaranteed a place in the play-offs. The match was played with a good spirit, a tribute to the spirit of the Women’s World Cup. After the match, we finished our paperwork and then went to the VIP tribune to watch the second match, Brazil vs. Denmark.
Brazil vs. Denmark
In Kari’s own words:
Knowing that the Brazil vs. Denmark match was a critical match, with a win by Denmark necessary to stay in the tournament, I wanted to make sure that I was in the most positive frame of mind, in order to be ready for anything.
Keys for me were:
1. An upbeat walk around the beautiful West Lake, listening to inspiring music
2. A light massage to wake up the legs
3. Lunch with my team
4. Pre-game meeting
5. Relaxation and game visualization
43,000 fans were in the stadium eagerly cheering on Brazil. A win by Brazil and in the simultaneous match a win by China, meant team China would go through to the quarterfinals. Needless to say, the China supporters were extremely enthusiastic. Early in the second half, I was 1,000% concentrated on the match and despite the announcement being made in Chinese - I knew that China had scored on New Zealand – the crowd erupted! It was awesome. And they didn’t quiet down from there.
The Brazil vs. Denmark match proved to be a wonderful display of technical skill and speed. With some simple man management by the referee crew, the teams settled in and played a great game of football. Only 2 cards were needed in the match to keep things in order. The Danes fought hard, but in the end they could not beat Brazil’s attacking and individually skillful game at a final score of 1-0.
The greatest aspiration for a referee is to officiate a game which is considered safe, exciting (good football) and fair. At the end of the match I received a wonderful complement from #9 of Denmark. She touched my arm and said, “It is a pleasure to work with a good referee”. If the loosing team plays their heart out and feels they got a “fair shake” then we have done our job.
What an honor and a privilege to have officiated this match.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
This is the first time in 10 years that the eye of a typhoon will probably make landfall in Shanghai. Hangzhou is 200km southeast of Shanghai and also along the coast. Undoubtedly, they will also get plenty of rain and strong winds like Shanghai.
They are expecting up to 8 inches of rain over the next 24 hours so Jen's match has also been postponed and moved to Hangzhou on Thursday at 5pm. Unfortunately, Jen and her crew were not able to make the train tonight and most likely transportation will be stopped tomorrow due to the storm so they may very well be traveling the morning of the match by train.
Looking out the window right now, the rain is pelting down. We are not sure what will happen with the match tonight in Shanghai featuring the US and Nigeria, but we will probably find out shortly. For now, FIFA is saying that the match will kick-off as scheduled.
Never a dull moment here in China - as always, we have to be ready for anything. This brings back memories of Russia last year at the U20s final (for those who remember that match).
It is unclear what will happen with the television schedule at this point, so stay tuned.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Kari received a picture from her first match from the local organizing committee which we wanted to share with you.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
FAQ #2. What about the shoe?
I have received a lot of questions from interested referees regarding the correct decision for the player who removed her shoe(s) during the Japan vs England match.
Answer: FIFA encourages referees to allow players to demonstrate their joy when scoring a goal. However it may not be excessive. Of course, making gestures with are provocative, climbing on the perimeter fence, removing the shirt or covering your head or face with a mask is prohibited. FIFA expects referee to act in a preventative manner and exercise common sense. Since this instance was not deemed excessive, and no time was wasted (she got those things on and off quickly), FIFA agreed with my decision to exercise common sense, intervene and get play started quickly and allowing for the expression of joy as it was intended with NO caution. As always as referees, we need to read the game and act within the letter and the spirit of the law.
All the best. Kari
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Later in the afternoon, we had a debriefing session for the following matches: Japan vs. England, USA vs. PRK and Sweden vs. Nigeria. We watched selected video clips for instructional purposes. The topics of discussion included foul recognition, advantage, misconduct, wall management, game management and offside.
At the end of the meeting, we received assignments for the next round of matches. Kari will be the 4th official for Japan vs. Argentina in Shanghai on Friday, 14 Sept. She will be working with Dagmar Damkova (Cze), Souad Oulhaj (Mar) and Ndah Tempa (Ben). Jen will be refereeing Brazil vs. China in Wuhan on Saturday, 15 Sept. Jen’s team includes Isabel Tovar (Mex), Rita Munoz (Mex) and Estela Alvarez de Olivera (Arg). The China vs. Denmark match drew a crowd of 50,000 so we anticipate a great atmosphere. The match promises to be exciting. For those interested in watching, please refer to the broadcast schedule link below.
We wrapped up the night watching two live matches in the referee lounge – New Zealand vs. Brazil and China vs. Denmark. At half-time, we played a few quick matches of ping-pong. The atmosphere was light-hearted and the camaraderie was truly enjoyable.
Our 1st match is now under our belt and I am just now sitting down to write this report at about 1am. WOW, What an exciting evening!
The evening started off with a police escort to the stadium. Instead of the typical siren to clear cars, bikers and mopeds out of our way, the Police here actually speak over a loud speaker. Our local volunteers translated: "stop", "move", "let me go first". It worked. We arrived at the stadium 20 minutes early!
Upon arrival, Isabel, Rita, Jen and I did the pre-requisite check of the field. A great opportunity to make sure field markings were correct, understand the true field dimensions and get a feel for the atmosphere and the condition of the field. If you watched the match you could probably see for yourself - it was soft. Needless to say I did not even consider wearing the turf shoes I had planned, but decided it would be safer to go with cleats. It was my first good call of the evening.
Japan vs. England was bound to be an exciting match up. Japan is very skillful, tactfully sound and quick. England is also skillful and physically strong. Being in the group with Germany (an incredibly dominate team as seen in game #1) these teams knew that winning would give them an excellent opportunity to go through to the next round.
Tonight everyone was in good spirits. It was nice to say hello and wish good luck to previous stars from the WUSA - Kelly Smith and Homare Sawa, both excellent and key players for their respective teams. It certainly can be helpful in establishing credibility right away if the players respect the referee from past experiences.
The pace of the game was in a word - FAST. End to end, back and forth, any one's match for sure. The players really came out to play and after a few fouls and an early card, the game settled in and they played. As the referee, I had to stay on top of a lot of contact in the box, with players fighting for position on corners and free kicks. We had a very unusual free kick by Japan where two players knelt down in front of their opponents. It resulted in a deflection back to their team for a shot on goal. The referee team looked closely for any misconduct or handballs, but nothing - a strange one for sure. In the end England scored 2 goals in the run of play and Japan had 2 goals, both as a result of free kicks. A tie - one of several on the second day of games at the WWC '07.
This match was a joy to referee. I had a fantastic time and it was such an honor. I was pleased to work with two great assistants and of course a fabulous 4th official.
By the way, when working properly (sometimes it cut in and out), the Electronic Communication Device is an effective tool. Could you see the device around my waist? How many pounds did it add on TV??
Thanks everyone for watching and also the notes of support. We go out there and represent you - the USA - each and every time we take the field.
It is now 1:20; time for bed. Check the blog often for updates on assignments. Best, Kari.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday marked the official start of the Women’s World Cup 2007. We started the day as always with breakfast and training. The atmosphere at breakfast was riddled with excitement. The Australian crew was getting ready for their big day. Our training was light on Monday because we were scheduled to referee the following day. So we had a warm-up followed by sprints and stretching. Whilst the others started their practical training, we walked around the university campus where we have been training. The campus is quite quaint despite being nestled in the middle of a large concrete jungle. There are many trees and a stream that runs through the middle. It is an oasis for the students and visitors alike. We stopped to take a quick photo with the statue of Mao Tse-tung and then proceeded to meander through the campus for about 30 minutes before returning to the hotel.
At 5:45pm, we departed for the opening ceremonies. We had a bus full of eager spectators. When we arrived at the stadium, we were ushered to the VIP area where we were treated to some snacks.
The opening ceremonies began at approximately 6:30pm. There were numerous performers including dancers and singers, but by far our favorites were the girls dressed as soccer balls whom we had met earlier in the week.
The theme of the opening ceremonies was “The Power of Beauty”.
Many of the performers were women or girls, but probably the most moving portion of the opening ceremonies was Sun Wen running to the stage along a long red carpet, being hoisted up to the mock-up of the WWC trophy and placing a silver soccer ball appropriately to complete the trophy. It reminded us of the Olympic torch being lit. Sun Wen was a superstar both in China and in the World. She was awarded the prestigious FIFA player of the century award in 2000 and is now a FIFA ambassador. Shanghai is Sun Wen's home town so it was fitting to have her "light the torch" for the opening ceremonies. It was a great tribute to the past and future of women’s football. Fireworks lit the sky over the stadium and the crowd erupted as the ceremonies concluded marking the start of the WWC 2007.
Let the games begin….
The match started at 8pm – Germany vs. Argentina. The tournament is always kicked off by the team who won the previous WWC which in this case was Germany. Germany was far too strong for Argentina, but I don't think anyone could have predicted the final score – 11-0. Records had fallen: the most decisive WWC victory ever, two players scoring hat tricks which has only happened once before and Birgit Prinz moving to the top of the list of goal scorers at WWC events alongside our own, Michelle Akers. We would have liked to see a more competitive match, but nevertheless, it was a fantastic evening and quite a thrill!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Most days here are very similar and sometimes we catch ourselves trying to figure out what day it is. Our daily schedule typically follows the plan below:
Breakfast between 7:30-8:30am
Physical training 9:15-10:15am
Practical field training 10:15-11:30am
Meeting times vary, but generally 2:30-5:30pm
The physical portion of the training varies each day. For those referees who have a match that day or who are traveling for a match that day, they typically do not participate in training. For those referees who have a match the following day, the training consists of a warm-up, stretching and several accelerations. The remainder of the referees will spend approximately 1 hour in physical training, 1 hour in technical training and a cool-down.
The practical training changes each day, but over the past week we have worked on off-side decisions, penalty decisions and cooperation between the AR and referee. We have local players helping with our practical sessions. The players try to simulate numerous game situations.
In our afternoon meetings, we have focused on various topics including tournament/match specifics, mental preparation (with relaxation exercises), foul/misconduct and offside video review. Now that matches are starting, the afternoon sessions will be debriefing sessions from the matches the prior day.
As we mentioned in an earlier blog, we have wonderful facilities here at the hotel for additional training including a pool pictured below. After purchasing the required swim cap and goggles, Jen has already had two sessions in the pool. We have been threatened with a possible water aerobics session which Kari is anxiously awaiting.... For those who know Kari, swimming is not one of her favorites!
Many may be wondering what we are eating here in China. For the most part, our meals have been western prepared meals. Every meal is buffet style. At breakfast, we have hot selections including eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles and pancakes. We also have a cereal and bread selection as well as fresh fruit and yogurt. For lunch and dinner, we typically have hot selections including several meat choices including usually beef, chicken, pork and/or lamb and a fish selection. We often have potatoes, rice and/or pasta as well as vegetable dishes. We also have a soup selection, salad and fresh fruit.
We always have numerous dessert selections including ice cream and cakes. Yesterday we had chili ice cream which was quite unusual.
They are starting to introduce some Chinese dishes to our menu. Apparently the Chinese food inspectors have criticized our menu for not offering enough Chinese choices.
So what else have we been up to over the weekend? Shopping! We visited a Chinese market over the weekend where we practiced our bartering skills. Fortunately we were accompanied by local volunteers to help with the translation and bartering.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Friday, the 7th started with some speed agility training on a hot and humid day; a great way to loosen the legs as we move from the fitness and test portion of this experience on to pure game preparation.
Following lunch, the big moment, the first round of assignments were announced for matches 1-8. The opening match will be officiated by a team from the Asian Football Federation, the Australian team. The 2nd match of the tournament, Japan vs. England will be officiated by the CONCACAF crew of Kari Seitz, Isabel Tovar (Mex), Rita Munoz (Mex) and Jen Bennett in Shanghai on Tuesday the 11th. We are looking forward to a fantastic match on Tuesday. For those interested in watching the match, refer to the link below for the broadcast schedule.
Following the much anticipated assignments, the referees headed off to Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium to receive our credentials.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to grab a peak of the final preparations for the WWC opening ceremony. What a great treat! We were able to spend time with some very enthusiastic little girls ready to play “Mulan”, the WWC mascot. The girls soaked up the attention and gladly posed for numerous photos.
Following this inspiring and motivating visit we headed over to a dinner at the Convention Center hosted by the WWC Local Organizing committee, where we were treated to Chinese food and special Chinese entertainment.
All of the preparations are in place and China is ready to kick-off the WWC 2007.
Thursday night, we joined the staff for our formal referee dinner at the FIFA headquarters. We were joined by the chairman of the WWC organizing committee, Mr. Worawi Makudi (Thailand). Everyone looked dapper in their formal FIFA suit. We indulged in a 4 course meal with the best part being the final course.
We finished dinner around 10pm and headed to the river front for a little sightseeing including one of the more recognizable buildings in the Shanghai skyline, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower (seen in the picture below).
As usual, we had a training session Friday morning. Since Thursday was light training, Friday was a bit more rigorous. Sunshine covered the sky and the heat continued to increase. We did not have practical training Friday morning as the instructors were meeting with the teams today to refresh and discuss match specifics for the tournament.
The training portion of the tournament is coming to a close and soon the matches will begin. We are all excited for the opening ceremonies on Monday.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
For the first 4 days here in China, the weather has been moderate – some light rain showers, but mostly overcast. Well, the weather changed just in time for the fitness test. On the morning of Wednesday, 5 Sept, hot and humid was the order of the day. The assistant referees were divided into the first two groups and ran the fitness test first. The referees were in the third group and started at 11am. When we arrived at the track and began our warm-up, it was very hot and humid. Fortunately, there was a slight breeze. However, as hoped, the years and months of hard work paid off. We are elated to say that we passed with flying colors. The only change to our regular training was the water consumption before, during and after the test. Of course, on our very last step, a cooling down pour of rain closed the test.
So the first big hurdle at the women’s world has been conquered; with the 6x40 meters covered in the required time and the 20x 150m run followed by 50m recovery well within time.
After the fitness test, we returned to the hotel for a well deserved lunch and some enjoyed Chinese massages. Did we mention that we have 3-4 full time masseuses at our disposal throughout the day?
After lunch, we had our first chance to get out and see a glimpse of Shanghai. Our hotel is on the western side of Shanghai and we traveled by bus to the eastern side for a shopping spree. Shopping is always a favorite among the referees and is a great way to unwind. Of course unless you have shopped in China before, it is hard to prepare for the experience. We had several local volunteers assisting; getting a “good” deal is truly an art form in China. Many of the referees spent quite a bit of money, but we held off, buying only “necessities”.
Thursday brought more sunshine and fortunately a light training session. After some light jogging and stretching, we spent some time practicing our soccer (football) skills. Yes, we are sure that would have been entertaining for many of you.
We have our official referee dinner tonight. We will don our FIFA formal uniforms and enjoy a very nice meal at the FIFA headquarter hotel.
For those who are interested, below are views looking out of our hotel rooms – as you can see, we are several stories up (in this view nearly 40). In fact, every time we ride the elevator up and down, if we do not make some stops in between, our ears pop!
Monday, September 3, 2007
The WWC referees have all arrived in Shanghai. It is a diverse group of women with 29 countries represented from around the world. We are headquartered at a beautiful hotel in Shanghai with first class facilities.
We are fortunate to have the support of a fantastic staff including FIFA referee department members, FIFA referee committee members, FIFA instructors, match inspectors, fitness trainers, psychologist, IT specialists and masseurs.
We have started our regular training sessions. Every morning at 9am we head over to a local university for 45 minutes of physical training followed by 90 minutes of technical training. After we return from our training sessions, we have lunch followed by an afternoon meeting at the hotel.
Technology is part of our everyday life here in China. We use heart rate monitors at all of our training sessions. Also we have been introduced to the electronic communication system. Outside the men's world cup in 2006, this is the next tournament FIFA has hosted were the system is to be used. CONCACAF referees were outfitted first at Monday's training session. We got 30 minutes to practice with the technology. The equipment consists of 4 transmitters one for each official on the team. The transmitters are strapped to our waists via a "girdle/belt" with a cord that connects to a headset. The communication systems can be "open" for all 4 officials to be able to speak at anytime, or you can be outfitted with a "push to talk" button that allows speaking only when a button it pushed. In any case all 4 officials can hear one another at all times. The intent of these systems is to assist in situations where a good signal and eye contact are not adequate.
FIFA has really worked to create a team environment; they have set-up a lounge for us complete with 4 Internet ready computers, a big screen tv and the ever popular Ping-Pong Table - a MUST in China.
No change in the weather here in Shanghai. Still overcast, with light rain. And clearly high, high humidity.
Tomorrow (Wed. in China) we are set to take the fitness test. Wish us luck!
Saturday, September 1, 2007
We are having some technical difficulties with the BLOG, but hopefully we will be able to solve that problem shortly.