ZURICH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants the mandatory retirement age for referees to be scrapped writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Currently all top-flight referees must quit on reaching 45 but Blatter, aware that FIFA Congress refused in June to endorse age limits for administrators, has decided it is both illogical and discriminatory to enforce an age limit of match officials.
England’s Howard Webb may consider that he was too quick to announce his retirement earlier this week. Webb, 43 last month, quit to take up an administrative role in the belief that he could not be selected again for a World Cup.
But the former policeman who refereed the 2010 Final and two matches in Brazil this summer would have stood an excellent chance of being picked for Russia 2018 if Blatter has his way.
Writing in the latest edition of FIFA Weekly, Blatter pointed out: “Colombia keeper Faryd Mondragon set a record in Brazil as the oldest player to appear at the World Cup finals, aged 43 and three days . . . there is no compulsory retirement age for players, coaches or all other club staff.”
Blatter recalled that FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo in June had voted against age restrictions and term limits and added: “Referees can also benefit from these significant freedoms.”
The enforced retirement age of 45, he added, “is in stark contradiction of competitive principles, because performance must take precedence over age in all cases.
“The modern referee is a sportsman – a mentally and physically trained athlete. His fitness to practice his trade at the highest level is earned and legitimised by his performance in applying the Laws, and in physical and psychological areas. For especially demanding tasks such as these, practised skill and experience are indispensable qualities.
“Removing age restrictions would open new horizons in the direction of professionalism. Highly pragmatic considerations have obstructed this path so far.
“Why would anyone choose a profession which requires him to step down at the age of 45? I think it is high time to extend the resolution made by Congress to referees. This has to be discussed by the referee committee.”